Tag Archives: Gears of War

Best of 2011 #10: Gears of War 3

My enjoyment of the Gears series up to this point is such that Gears 3 is deserving of a position on this list, even if the overriding impression that I was left with was disappointment. That’s unfortunate, because it wasn’t the fault of the game itself – that was as strong as ever – but rather the anticlimax of a finale. In retrospect, both its predecessors ended on notes that swung between frustrating and insultingly simple, so perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising, but to leave so many unanswered questions was just messy and felt like a lazy setup for inevitable returns to this universe.

Frankly, though, who plays Gears for the story? Its narrative accomplishments can be counted on one hand, and one of those is serving as a mildly distracting vessel for what is still the benchmark in this third-person cover shooting sub-genre. Although I didn’t think that Gears 3 was the series’ high point, mainly thanks to some flirtations with almost Halo-style, more open battlefields that really didn’t work for me, it had a lot of great ideas and a mercifully more diverse graphical style. The latter went a long way towards making the game feel like less of a stereotype than its characters frequently did.

With three of these games in a generation, though, I don’t feel like there’s more to be said with this franchise for a while. It’s the right time to leave it alone until there are some worthwhile new ideas, hence this one’s diminished standing in this list when compared to its predecessors. Still one of the best action series of this generation, then, given a send-off that slightly underwhelms.

Best of 2008 #5: Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2

At the risk of making this entry sound negative, even if Gears 2 improved on the original in pretty much every way, I just didn’t like it as much. It looks staggering at times, the vehicle sections were actually far from being atrocious this time, and Horde mode is a work of genius. But the lull in the fourth act and a multiplayer mode that just didn’t do it for me after a year of Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3 means it doesn’t quite hit those heights.

Like I said, though, I didn’t dislike it at all. When it’s on song and you’re playing on the right difficulty the combat in this game is second to none, as visceral and thrilling to play as you could hope for. Enemies are just intelligent enough to keep you on your toes while still being possible to take down with some clever teamwork or led into a trap, and while some of them annoy on higher difficulties, there’s enough variety to them to bring distinct tactics into the mix.

I’m sure that in two years – or maybe early on in the next Xbox’s release cycle – I’ll be wanting another Gears game to sink my teeth into, but I can’t help but hope that Cliff Bleszinski and his team can find enough new content and extend the 360 hardware enough to make the inevitable sequel worthwhile. If not, let’s see what Epic can do with Microsoft’s money and a game where the height of the dialogue is, “They’re sinking cities with a giant worm!”

There I go, sounding all negative again, but constructive criticism is what will make the next one the revelation that the first game was rather than the impressive but safe sequel that this game turned out to be. Make sure to keep Horde mode next time, though. It’s awesome.

On Gears of War 2

I finished Gears of War 2 the other day. It took me far longer than it should have done because of a slightly doughy patch in its middle that I needed a push through, but overall it was a better game than the first in every way. Crude and brainless, yes, but is that a bad thing?

There are a lot of gamers who will hold up games like Gears 2 as the worst thing to ever happen to gaming, somehow responsible for denying the medium its rightful place among the ‘respected’ entertainment media, but I think that there’s always a place for this kind of thing. Besides the point that no one except gamers takes it that seriously, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think that games aren’t respected enough because of testosterone-fuelled action games.

Gears of War 2 - The Hollow

Aliens, Terminator 2, Die Hard, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Matrix… All of these movies are, to various extents, considered to be classics, if not in general then certainly of their genre. They might have some cod philosophy to please the chin-stroking crowd, but at the end of the day you watch them to see people with guns doing cool shit.

Gears is the same as that. It’s as subtle as a brick, but it looks amazing – see the above shot – the tight action is second to none when it’s on a roll and, on the whole, I just had a brilliant time with it. Is it art? Who cares? I’d prefer movie posters and comic book artwork on my walls to Monet, and I’d prefer Gears to a game that’s trying to be clever for the sake of it. At least Gears of War is honest about the fact that it’s a game, and the point of them is to be fun.

If you’re looking to Gears to bring you closer to enlightenment you’re barking up the wrong tree – hell, it’s barely even a tree in that case – and I won’t come away from it as a better person, but I got to ride a fucking Brumak!