Gears of War almost made me buy an Xbox360. Forget Halo 3, this game IS the system seller. Gears of War is the highest rated Xbox360 game on my Top 52 and that's partly because I don't own an Xbox 360. Still, I think it's impressive that two Xbox360 games made my top 52 favorite games of all-time despite not owning the system.
Title: Gears of War
Release Date: 11/07/06 (US)
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
My Ranking: #41
Cooperative campaign mode. I could end this review right there and that would explain why I loved this game so much. Sure, plenty of other shooters have had co-op before but never did I enjoy myself with a shooter as much as I did with Gears of War.
The co-op was dynamic for a number of reasons. For starters, the level design seemed to be built for two-players. Wide area maps really allowed two people to spread apart and flank the enemies and you feel as though you are "trading off" bosses when in a boss fight. Usually the boss stays only on one player, letting the other player move and deal some massive damage.
There was always enough cover for the player to utilize and they were strategically placed so that you could gradually move up the level and get a better shot. Then, in some of the levels, they would have an enemy wave appear from the side you came from and the level would invert so you would have to use the cover from the opposite side.
In co-op you were always faced with a choice in how to work with your partner. Flanking is always a good idea but if you happen to die, then the other player needs to dash across to where you were in order to revive you. (Reviving is somehow magically done by a player picking a fallen player up). If you stick together you give the enemies one target but you can constantly revive each other and avoid a game over. It a simple choice but, the choice you make on how to fight will change how the AI enemies approach you.
There is a story in Gears of War but do you really care about the story in a shooter? Some people thought the story was really interesting; I just saw it as another generic "aliens (the Locust in this case) attacking! We must fight back!" I didn't expect much of a story though, so I wasn't disappointed.
However, for me to like a shooter, there needs to be a solid engine and control scheme. This is where Gears of War truly shines. Instead of just standing behind a wall and strafing the whole time, there is a very sophisticated covering system in Gears of War. Anytime you see any sort of barricade you can press the action button to fall behind the cover where you can do a variety of different moves.
For the cover position you can dash out from the left or right, stand up and fire, blind fire from the left, top, and right sides, back off the cover, or jump over the barricade, Rambo style. So instead of just standing behind walls or ducking, you can really get involved with the environment and use just about anything for cover. Thankfully, the camera is also reliable. You will probably get a good view of the battle from where you are crouching/hiding.
I remember first playing this game at my friend's dorm two years ago and just blasting through the campaign in about two or three days. I was disappointed when it was over not because the game was bad but because I wanted more. Wanting more at the end of a game is both a good and bad sign since it was too short but the gameplay rocked. I can't wait for Gears of War 2. I will tear apart that game at my friend's dorm again.
My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby's Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
#49 --- Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
#48 --- Metroid Prime (GC)
#47 --- Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
#46 --- Bomberman 64 (N64)
#45 --- Guitar Hero II (PS2)
#44 --- Super Street Fighter II Turbo (GEN)
#43 --- Pokemon Puzzle League (N64)
#42 --- Soul Calibur II (GC)
#41 --- Gears of War (Xbox 360)*
#40 --- Revealed on 09/30
*- Denotes highest rated game for that console