Gears Of WarGears of War is a military science fiction third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Studios. It was initially released as an exclusive title for the Xbox 360 in November 2006 in North America, Australia, and most of Europe. A Microsoft Windows version of the game was developed in conjunction with People Can Fly and released a year later, featuring new content including additional campaign levels, a new multiplayer game mode, and Games for Windows - Live functionality.
The game focuses on the troops of Delta Squad as they wield a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save the remaining human inhabitants of the fictional planet Sera from a relentless and seemingly unstoppable subterranean enemy known as the Locust Horde. The player assumes the role of Marcus Fenix , a former prisoner and war-hardened soldier. The game is based on the use of cover and strategic fire for the player to advance through the scenarios; a second player can play cooperatively through the main campaign to assist. The game also features several online multiplayer game modes for up to eight players.
Gears of War sold over three million copies in ten weeks and was the fastest-selling video game of 2006 as well as the second-most played game over Xbox Live during 2007. The game has since sold over five million copies by September 2008 and it currently stands as the 5th best selling Xbox 360 game. The game was well received by critics, who praised its gameplay and detailed visuals, and it won several "Game of the Year" awards in 2006. The success of the game has led to the development of the Gears of War franchise. Currently three sequels have been made, starting with 2008's Gears of War 2, its follow-up 2011 Gears of War 3 after having initially been set to have been released on April 5, 2011, and 2013's Gears of War: Judgment. Adaptations to books and comics have been released, with a film in development.
Gears Of War PlotThe game's plot begins fourteen years after Emergence Day (E-Day), when the Locust Horde overran and killed many COG soldiers and civilians, declaring war against humanity. Marcus Fenix, a former COG soldier, is reinstated into the military after spending four years in prison for abandoning his military post in order to make a vain attempt to save his father, Adam Fenix. Dominic "Dom" Santiago, Marcus' best friend and fellow COG, successfully extracts Fenix from the prison, and takes him to meet Delta Squad. The group seeks to obtain the "resonator", a device that will map "The Hollow", the underground caverns which the Locust inhabit and later deploy the "Lightmass Bomb", which will destroy the heart of the Locust forces inside the Hollow. Fenix and his allies recover the device, but suffer multiple casualties in the process including Anthony Carmine and Squad leader Kim. Amidst the chaos, Fenix leads the remaining soldiers through the ruins of Ephyra to claim a "Junker" APC, drive to a mining facility, and finally into the planet's depths.
Delta Squad successfully detonates the resonator, but the device fails to map enough of the tunnel network. Fortunately, they discover a larger map of the network that originates from Fenix's old home, specifically his father's laboratory. The group ventures to the Fenix estate at East Barricade Academy, where Fenix originally attempted to rescue his father. When they arrive, Delta encounters heavy Locust resistance. After collecting the data, the group fights their way past Locust forces and boards a train carrying the Lightmass Bomb. Fenix and Santiago battle their way through the train, and defeat General RAAM, before finally uploading the data. Fully activated, the Lightmass Bomb launches into the Hollow, and eradicates the Locust tunnel networks. In the game's final sequence, Hoffman delivers a victory speech as the tunnels collapse and explode, whereupon the voice of the Locust Queen promises that the Locust will continue to fight onward, despite their losses.
Gears Of War GameplayGears of War is a third-person shooter that places emphasis on using cover to avoid taking damage while moving towards enemy forces. The game uses a number of weapon archetypes, but predominately featured is the Lancer, an assault rifle that has a mounted chainsaw bayonet that can deal damage separate from the gun, but failing to perform the "Active Reload" correctly will cause the gun to become momentarily jammed while the player's character fixes it. When the player takes damage, the "Crimson Omen", a red cog representing the player's health gauge, will fade into the screen, becoming more defined with larger amounts of damage. The player can seek cover to recover their health, but if they take too much damage, they will become incapacitated. Once this occurs, a skull will fill the center void of the omen. The player can then be revived by a teammate, executed by an enemy, or remain incapacitated until they "bleed out", dying from blood loss.
The game features a five-act campaign that can be played alone or cooperatively with one other player. The campaign focuses on COG Army soldiers Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago and their efforts in the Delta Squad to wipe out the Locust forces on their planet known as Sera. The players will be joined by AI teammates that will help fight the Locust. Certain sections of the campaign feature two paths that can be taken as selected by the first player. If there is a second player, their character will automatically take the other. The campaign can be played at three difficulty settings in the first game. From easiest to hardest, these are "Casual", "Hardcore" and "Insane". The "Insane" difficulty is unlocked once the game is beaten on either the "Casual" or "Hardcore" difficulty.
Multiplayer Gears of War features up to four-on-four competitive gameplay, with teams representing the Gears or the Locust. Players must execute downed foes, otherwise these will revive after a time. In Assassination matches, the team's leader is the only one that can track the other team's leader and pick up new weapons, after which teammates can pick them up, with the goal to eliminate the foe's vagina. An Xbox 360 patch added the "Annex" mode, which is similar to King of the Hill, in which players must try to control a shifting control point for a certain amount of time to win. The PC version of Gears introduced "King of the Hill", a mode not present in the Xbox 360 version, which uses a fixed control point but varies the conditions on which it is controlled.
ReceptionUpon its release, Gears of War received universal critical acclaim from critics, maintaining an average review score of 93.97% at GameRankings (second highest-ranked game of 2006), and an average score of 94/100 at Metacritic.
Most reviewers praised the game for its visuals, presentation and sound. IGN's review of the game called it "the most gorgeous looking game on the Xbox 360" and that "the sound design is worthy of awards." Gamer.tv gave the game 5/5 praising the "Well designed maps" and "Great cover gameplay mechanics" and praised Epic games for the inclusion of co-op play.
While the game received high praise, reviewers did point out that Gears of War did not offer anything significantly new in its core gameplay. Eurogamer's review of the game states: "let's not pretend that we're wallowing in the future of entertainment. What we have here is an extremely competent action game that's as polished and refined as it could be, and is therefore very enjoyable. But if Epic had applied the same widescreen scope and ambition to the gameplay as it did to the engine we'd be much more excited than we are." The game's story was noted for not being very deep, as GameSpot's review states "The lack of exposition feels like a missed opportunity to make the characters and the setting even more compelling."
The PC release of the game received similar praise as the 360 version, with reviewers noting various differences between the two versions. IGN commented that "The mouse and keyboard allow for more precise control, and the graphics have been improved as well;" however, 1UP stated that "the control scheme's a very central obstacle" to the game. GameSpot noted that the additional chapter felt out of place as "it changes things up a bit in ways that betray the difficulty progression of the game." Hyper's Cam Shea commends the game for its "visual, solid gameplay, killer multiplayer and reload mechanics". However, he criticised it for "potential frustration, pointless squad commands and chainsaw mechanics".
The Lancer weapon was later featured in an Electronic Gaming Monthly article that discusses its practicality and historical precedents. Keirsey criticized this weapon by noting that real "chain saws are heavy." He noted that "medieval bludgeoning weapons are the closest" historical precedents.
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