If you have played a Gears of War game in the past you will feel right at home. Gears of War 4 takes the old formula of their cover based shooter and builds upon it to make it feel fresh and new again. The story gives you enough of the old to help you welcome in the new for a fantastic new adventure.
J.D is the son of the legend Marcus Fenix. His constant sarcasm and smart ass remarks are what you will notice first about him. No matter what someone says, he always has something to say. Being a former Lieutenant in the COG, leadership is one of his strong points. Even with his constant charm and humor, he can be serious when it really counts. Del is also a former COG soldier. He’s also quite similar to J.D but his wit is something that shines out. Watching the dynamic between both Del and and J.D is one of the more entertaining parts of the story. The constant joking between the two makes for a good laugh when you’re coasting in between battles and keeps the pace going. Kait is the strongest of the three and most intriguing characters. She is the daughter of Reyna, who leads of the Outsiders. Kait is tough and capable on her own and towards the end her story gets much more interesting. These three are the new Gears squad and for their first installment, they are most definitely likable.
After the prologue, the story begins much different than any other Gears games. You go through huge wind storms, when you’re in these storms the weather effects are quite awesome to play with. You’ll see the environment push huge objects everywhere, killing a bunch of enemies in front of you in scripted events but you can also use the environment yourself. Some items are held back by a rope or barricade but you can destroy it and watch the wind push it into your foes. Another thing that is different to the Gears series is that usually you are accustomed to fighting in broken and beat up ruins or just very old buildings while going against wretched monsters. But in this game you are in start out in a beautiful state of the art COG city and you are fighting a bunch of machines that are like an army of RoboCops. These machines are called the DeeBees, they watch and protect over the city and talk like what you think a robot would talk like. These enemies have all new weapons that some of which are satisfying to use such as the Embar which is a charge shot sniper rifle. Just like the locusts from the original trilogy, the DeeBees have different enemy types. They have the small enemies that roll up to you and self detonate, these are called Trackers. They also have the common enemy type who are armed with SMGs, these are called Shepherds. Then they have the heavy set enemy with a power weapon, these are DR-1s. And lastly they have a flying enemy with a turret attached to them and it’s called the Guardian. If you have played Gears in the past then you will see a correlation between enemy types. While the DeeBees because they are fun to battle against and it would have been nice to see a different enemy classes. One thing introduced in the campaign are three wave horde mode sections. These are basically areas in which you set up fortification and fight enemies in waves. These sections don’t happen often but they definitely ruin some of the pacing for me.
After the robot fighting fun of the first few hours of the game, we are introduced to a new enemy – The Swarm. With the introduction of the Swarm we are also introduced to the legend once again, Marcus Fenix. Spoilers, he is still a badass and more grumpy than ever. The writing in this game is probably one of the best things about it and separates it from the rest of the games. The original trilogy had these macho dude bros humor and didn’t take itself too seriously despite having a bunch of locusts emerge from the ground to kill millions. This one still has some similarities but the tone is a bit different. In the latter half of the game the enemy is primarily the Swarm. The Swarm is quite similar looking to the Locusts but have a different way about themselves. They still have the same enemy types of the Locusts but they have a few different ones that are just enough to make them interesting. Also just like the DeeBees, they have some new weapons as well. One of my favorites are the Buzzkill, it’s a heavy weapon that shoots out these large buzz saws out at a high velocity. Watching the Swarms limbs and bodies get sliced in half is a good feeling, and it’s fun to use. Pretty much after the squad starts fighting against the Swarm, then the game feels like just another Gears game. Fighting in deserted and destructed areas, picking where you want to go when your squad splits up, doing mini objectives such as turning on generators to get from point A to point B, etc. They kind of play it safe in the second half of the game and that’s okay, they make this up by adding some amazing set pieces. It is still a fun, entertaining and satisfying story to play through. If you’ve played a Gears campaign in the past you will most certainly enjoy this one.
The first thing you might notice on Versus if you’re playing on the Xbox One is that it is running at 60fps compared to the campaigns 30fps. With the fluid gameplay you can play the usual Team Deathmatch, Warzone, Guardian and King of the Hill. The two new game modes are Dodgeball and Arms Race. Dodgeball is where when you kill someone, your team gains a life. Whoever loses all their lives first then loses. Arms Race is where each team’s gun changes every three kills they get. Whoever goes through the most gun then wins. If you are looking for something more competitive then you can play in the game modes Execution and Escalation. From what I’ve played the multiplayer seems like any Gears game does. Loads of fun and variety throughout. They have also added bounties. These are cards you can unlock in packs of cards. You can turn on these bounties prior to a match to attempt to earn extra XP. For example, one card says “Get 5 assists and gain 500 XP”, if you get five assists you will earn the extra XP. When opening the packs you can also earn skins for your weapons, new looks for your multiplayer characters and you can get bounties for Horde mode. In this mode you can play by yourself or play with four other people. In this mode you can choose between five different classes and if chosen strategically you can have a good chance at lasting longer than if everyone was one class. Once you are dropped into a match you need to get the fabricator. This is where you will get all your defenses like barbed wire to slow down enemies or turrets so you can kill them. After you are all set, waves of enemies start trying to kill you. The max amount of waves are 50, as each wave goes the difficulty and amount of enemies start to rise. This is a nifty and fun game mode to play around with friends.
Gears of War 4 may be just another Gears game but we haven’t gotten one in five years. This game gives every Gears fan what they want and more while also appealing to a new generation of players. Even if you have never played a game in the series you will probably enjoy this on gameplay and the beautiful graphics alone. If you have an HDR (High Dynamic Range) compatible TV you will be even more enamored by the vibrant colors popping and the more detailed darks. The story is conveyed in an easy way to understand and enjoy. Even though there are some minor gripes about pacing in the story or a lack of variety from different enemy types, the game is still fun. This game is a must own for anyone who owns an Xbox One or a PC.