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Gears Of War PC Review - Beautiful Yet Bland

by: William Usher ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

A review of the classic console game that was ported over to PC via People Can Fly and Epic Games.

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    Just A Cog In The Machine

    Gears of War There’s really no denying that the one game that has reinvigorated Epic Games as a standout group of developers for making a breakaway next generation game, which also sparked a huge following and iconic new heroes for the Xbox 360, is the classic Gears of War.

    The third-person shooter doesn’t open any new doors in the way of gameplay innovation; however it sets a standard for visual and gameplay immersion that many games thereafter have adopted in their own paradigm of playability, namely cinematic gameplay immersion (i.e., Uncharted, Splinter Cell Conviction, etc.,). If you’re somewhat interested in laying down some cash for the PC version of the game, then you might be interested in finding out where the game shines and where it falls flat, in this Gears of War PC review.

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    Presentation

    Eyeing a statue I don’t think I’ve played a game on PC that’s as cinematically poignant as Gears of War. Epic didn’t just create a gritty, atmospheric shooter, they created a visual masterpiece that encompasses a visual art-style all its own.

    Nevertheless, graphics are almost an entirely useless resource without some sort of gameplay immersion, and the team does an astounding job of ensuring that each and every level feels like an authentic representation of a war-torn society. What’s more is that the Victorian aesthetic in a distorted post-modern European setting gives the game the creepy horror factor that makes it feel so visceral. All of this is accompanied by convincing looking characters with suitable enough voiceovers headed up by renown voice actor, John Di Maggio.

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    Graphics And Sound

    An unfortunate Cog As mentioned in the last section, John Di Maggio and crew lends their voices to a seemingly unstoppable force of rough and tough-as-they-come soldiers known as Gears. They fight on the side of the Cogs against the Locust horde and every wrinkle, crease, crater and scar shows up with impeccable detail on the characters, within the game.

    The Unreal Engine has been used in countless games. However, the engine shines the best with flag-ship projects by Epic Games, and Gears of War is a true testament to the engine’s capabilities in both the audio and visual department. The added physics-based reactions during shoot-outs, cut-scenes, vehicular segments and general character responses make the game a true visual standout even amongst newer shooter titles.

    And even with a sparse soundtrack with only brief spurts of music here and there, the game’s amazing atmosphere and unequaled depiction of a post-war society more than make up for it.

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    Gameplay - Part 1

    Blind firing from a coverspot 

    Of all the things that suffer in this game it would easily fall in line with Gears of War’s lackluster gameplay. While many-a-fanboy would jump up and shout “foul” the one thing that most shooter fans need to keep in mind is that Gears of War has a very, very basic gameplay formula that Epic rinses, repeats and recycles for about four to six hours of the rather short campaign.

    The wall-hugging action is put on display with remarkable dynamics thanks to the beefy animations of the hulking characters, and the added immersion of the sound effects and physics properties littered throughout most of the environments. However, the originality of the gameplay only extends about as far as the character’s aesthetic interaction with the intensely action-packed combat scenarios.

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    Gameplay - Part 2

    Marcus And Dom fighting in a house Yes, the game does feature blind firing that works well with some weapons and is completely useless with others. Nevertheless, outside of hugging walls and blind firing, Gears of War is just the standard-fare third person shooter wrapped up in very pretty package.

    There are a few sparse segments that push the gameplay outside of its repetition factor, such as driving an APC while using a spotlight to keep deadly swarms off the vehicle. Another scenario worth mentioning is when Marcus and Dominic have to push a flaming car down a hill while, once again, trying to stay in the light and away from swarming creatures that devour anything in the dark. Outside of these brief hiccups of gameplay gimmicks, it's just one shootout after another that repeats the very same tactics throughout the entire game.

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    Replay Value

    Marcus finds the APC at a gas station 

    The single-player portions of the game are decent but no where near as re-playable as say, the original Halo’s uber-fun campaign. Gears of War for PC still features the cooperative mode that made the game famous on the Xbox 360, save there is no splitscreen co-op in the PC version.

    Given the limited scope of gameplay featured in the main campaign mode it’s one of those modes you may or may not return to after a couple of months of letting the game sit on the shelf for a while. The multiplayer modes are slightly more fleshed out but the meager 4-on-4 matches pale in comparison to many other shooter games out there that have far more modes, customization features and weapons to boot, such as Operation 7, Exteel or BattleSwarm: Field of Honor. Still, for gamers who enjoy chainsawing their friends into a gooey pile of human (or locust) flesh, then I suppose the multiplayer in Gears of War has a modicum of lasting appeal.

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    Overall

    Cole leads Delta team to Alpha team 

    Despite heavy shortcomings on the forefront of gameplay, replay and story depth, Gears of War is still a hallmark game of its generation, if for nothing else for its remarkably (and nearly unmatched) cinematic approach to the third-person shooter genre. If you don’t have a PlayStation 3 and can’t get your hands on Uncharted 2 or you don’t have an Xbox 360 to experience Gears of War 2, then I suppose the original Gears of War wouldn’t be a bad way to go to get in some viscerally gory thrills. Just make sure you have a PC that can spare around 14 gigabytes of hard drive space and has a fairly up-to-date video card to handle all the high definition textures.

    Official Gears of War Website

    For more first-person and third-person shooters, be sure to check out the complete Online Action Game Directory here at Bright Hub.