Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gears of War

I beat Gears of War last night. On the easiest difficulty, of course, but it was still pretty tough there toward the end, but never so difficult I thought about giving up. That's how games should be: challenging but never so frustrating or cheap that you want to throw the controller out the window. Anyway, I beat Gears of War and thought it was the bomb.

Gameplay wise, Gears of War is the kind of game that ruins you for other games because it feels so right. Begin able to quickly duck behind cover and pop out to time your shots brings a level of tactical strategy to the shooter genre that it's hard to go back to a game like Halo where all you need to do is strafe around while shooting. That isn't to besmirch shooters like Halo, which I love, but that the pop and shoot style of cover found in this game is more my style. This is a thinking man's action game, requiring thought and strategy for every encounter or you're not going to make it very far. I died a lot, but after almost every death I was able to look at what happened and understand why I got killed. It was usually because I got sloppy and the enemy outsmarted me. Sun Tzu would've enjoyed this game.

Of course, there were also a few cheap deaths here and there, because the controls are so deep and each button has multiple uses depending upon the situation or location. The duck and roll button is the same as the one used for ducking behind cover, for example, so there were a few times when I'd try to jump out of the way only to find my character planting himself up against the wall in front of enemy fire. It's hard to explain, but if you've played the game, I'm sure it's happened to you. Also, the character is pretty slow, which is a design choice that works 99% of the time, but a quick turn feature would've been great. So there were a few times when I felt like I was fighting the controls a bit, but never so often that it made me mad.

Storywise, this game kind of sucks. It hints at a really deep, sci-fi storyline, but the writing is just bad. I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters and appreciated how the story started in media res with the war already underway, but nothing every really made sense. Mission objectives were never really set up or explained, and the chapters never really transitioned well enough together. All of a sudden you're on a train and have to drop some bomb that is never explained. And why were the locusts coincidentally hiding out in the main character's childhood home? It was just a bad story that was poorly told.

But who cares? The action was fierce, the controls were tight, and the graphics are outstanding. There are also a bunch of multiplayer options. You can either play through the entire game with a friend, or fight online against other people. Of course, this game is a few years old, so at this point I can last about 3 seconds online before getting killed. But it's still a fun 3 seconds. I give this game two thumbs way up. I enjoyed every minuted of it and will definitely play through again on the harder difficulty levels, or die trying anyway.

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