-- Gears of War
Gears of War
Release Date: 07-Nov-2006
Developed By: Epic Games
Published By: Microsoft
ESRB: MatureOfficial WebsiteWhere to buyAdd review
Gears of War is a tactical third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games using Unreal Engine 3.0 technology and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It centers around the soldiers of Delta Squad as they fight to save the human inhabitants of the fictional planet Sera from a relentless subterranean enemy known as The Locust Horde. The player assumes the role of Marcus Fenix, a former prisoner and war-hardened soldier. In cooperative play, the second player plays as Fenix's friend and fellow soldier, Dominic Santiago. The two soldiers join up with Delta Squad and battle the Locust Horde through the course of an action-packed campaign.
The game achieved major success after its release. On November 20, 2006, Gears of War became the most popular game on the Xbox Live service, overtaking Halo 2, which had held the spot since its launch in November 2004. It was named the GameSpot Game of the Year. By January 19, 2007, just ten weeks after its debut, over three million units of the game have been sold.
Unlike previous efforts by Epic Games, which were first-person shooters, Gears of War is a third-person shooter. This design choice reflects itself in the gameplay as Gears of War focuses mainly on sound team-based and cover-dependent tactics with limited weapons rather than brute force.
Instead of a healthbar found in many first-person shooters, Gears of War uses the Crimson Omen, a COG shaped icon that fills up with blood to represent damage. If there is a faint appearance of the Omen on the screen, it shows that the player has experienced minor wounds. When the Omen becomes more defined, it shows that the player has experienced severe wounds. When there is a skull inside of the symbol, the character has been incapacitated; in the single player mode, this represents player death and game over, while in multiplayer (both co-op and competition modes), another team member may attempt to revive the player. A downed player in some competition modes (Execution) may also try to restore himself from incapacitation by rapidly pressing the (A) button for several seconds, though during this time, the enemy can brutally end the player's life by using the chainsaw bayonet, smashing the player's head with the butt of a weapon, performing a "curb stomp", or also a headshot. If the player has taken damage but is not incapacitated, the damage can be healed by staying out of the line of fire for a short time, which causes the Omen to slowly fade away.
Epic Games placed emphasis on the importance of cover, and on the harder difficulty levels where being exposed to enemy fire for only a few seconds can result in death. While behind cover, players can choose to aim carefully with their weapons or use blind-fire to avoid subsequent damage from showing their heads from behind cover. Players have a wide assortment of rolling and cover maneuvers at their disposal with the press of a single button. The availability of certain maneuvers are also indicated by context sensitive icons that appear at the bottom of the screen. The game also includes a sprint, known as the "roadie run", a roll, and the ability to jump over small walls. The roadie run is part crouch, part run, which can help traverse exposed ground quickly as well as making characters harder to target. During a roadie run, the camera lowers towards the ground and bobs considerably, as if the camera were being held by another person running behind the player.
Gears of War features a small variety of weapons, following other first-person shooter weapons sets with assault rifles, shotguns, pistols and sniper rifles. One of the most notable weapons is the game's signature firearm, the Lancer (an assault rifle with a chainsaw bayonet). This weapon gives the player the ability to cut enemies in half, killing them in a single blow. Some of the more powerful weapons in the game include the Torque Bow, a high tech mechanical spring bow that fires explosive bolts, the Boomshot grenade launcher, the Longshot sniper rifle and the Hammer of Dawn, a targeting device for a powerful orbital particle cannon but only usable when outdoors. All weapons can be used to bash an opponent at melee range (except for the Lancer, which uses the aforementioned chainsaw bayonet). Both smoke and fragmentation grenades are also available which can be tossed, but can also be stuck onto an opponent by hand at close range. Single player missions usually carry over weapons from previous missions, while multiplayer matches provide players with a smoke grenade, Lancer assault rifle, Snub pistol, and Gnasher shotgun, with more powerful weapons being scattered at strategic locations on the map, though the host can select to randomize weapon locations. Discarded and dropped weapons and ammo can be collected by the player, but the player may only carry one type of grenade, one type of sidearm, and two types of the remaining weapon classes at any time.
A gameplay component unique to Gears of War, the Active Reload, entails hitting the right bumper on the controller to start the reload, and pressing it again at the correct time to quickly reload the weapon. There are three possibilities for the result of the second tap of the reload button: perfect, good, and fail. If timed perfectly, the reload takes less than a second and any bullets refilled will momentarily do more damage. If timed well, the reload will simply take less time. If timed poorly, the gun will jam momentarily and the reloading process will take longer than if an Active Reload was not attempted.
There are 49 Achievements that may be unlocked during gameplay. These achievements may be unlocked from either single player, playing 2 player co-op as Dom Santiago, or ranked match games.
Gears of War takes place on a planet known as Sera, inhabited by the human survivors of a once-glorious civilization. For a century, however, they fought among themselves. Eventually they knew the hush of peace that blanketed the land. That was until the discovery of Imulsion, a phosphorescing, low-viscosity fluid. Discovered by an oil-exploration drill, it was unusable until a woman named Dr. Helen Cooper created the Lightmass Process, which enabled production of cheap energy. The world economy soon collapsed due to its extremely low price and the elimination for the need of hydrocarbon and nuclear fuel sources. The few countries that had an overabundance of Imulsion under their feet soon found themselves at war with nations who were not as lucky, and so began the Pendulum Wars. During the seventy-nine year war, the Coalition of Ordered Governments, or COG, became a legitimate minor political party. Founded long before the Pendulum Wars by fanatical socialist Alexiy Desipich, the party was based on an obscure world-government philosophy based on eight guiding principle values: Order, Diligence, Purity, Labor, Honor, Loyalty, Faith, and Humility.
The Pendulum Wars ceased on what is now called Emergence Day. In less than twenty-four hours, a ravenous species known as the Locust burst from under the ground and attacked every major city on Sera. By the time human forces pulled together to form an effective defense, it was too late. The Locust Horde had already taken control of the majority of the world's urban, military, and manufacturing centers. Billions lay dead, approximately one quarter of Sera's population. The COG took matters into their own hands and re-enacted the Fortification Act, allowing martial law to be placed on all remaining survivors from the initial invasion. All survivors were ordered to evacuate to the Jacinto Plateau, a safe haven that the Locust Horde could not penetrate from the underground due to its thick granite substrata. Survivors who could not make it to the plateau were given the following apology: "For those citizens who can't make it to Jacinto, the Coalition appreciates your sacrifice. Please forgive us, this is the only way."Chemical and orbital particle laser weapons were used in a scorched earth strategy to deny the Locust Horde survival on the surface, forcing them to stay in their underground warrens. This war would continue for another fourteen years.
Somewhere around the tenth year, Jacinto was being fortified into an unassailable fortress. Its once magnificent cities, envied for their beauty, were soon converted into military defense platforms. The plateau's natural fissures and utility systems were destroyed or flooded with nerve gas to delay the Locust Horde's inevitable attack. People who had not made it to Jacinto Valley, but had survived, were called the Stranded. The Stranded are living in horrible conditions and malnutrition, and have to find ways to defend themselves. When the Locust Horde began their attack on Jacinto, Marcus Fenix abandoned his post in a response to a distress call from his father, a renowned scientist, at the East Barricade Academy, but he was too late to save him. At his trial in the House of Sovereigns, Marcus was charged with dereliction of duty, cowardice, and failure to obey orders. Exempted from execution due to his exemplary tours during the Pendulum Wars, he was imprisoned instead. Years later, the COG found themselves running low on able-bodied soldiers, so they turned to untraditional sources of men: the infirmed, the young, and the condemned. Marcus Fenix was pardoned and freed by his friend Dominic Santiago. Shortly afterwards, the Locust Horde overran his prison. The Gears of War campaign begins here.
Gears of War focuses primarily around the characters of Delta Squad and their encounters with the Locust Horde. Delta Squad's members fluctuate throughout the first act, consisting first of Min Young Kim, Carmine, Marcus Fenix and his best friend Dominic Santiago, but during the last four acts of the game, Delta Squad consists of the former prisoner Marcus, Dominic or just Dom, and the dynamic duo Augustus "Cole Train" Cole and Damon Baird. Players take control of Marcus Fenix, freshly rescued by Dominic Santiago (controlled by a second player in cooperative play) from the Jacinto Maximum Security Penitentiary. In multiplayer on the COG side there are all the Delta Squad characters to choose from, plus Victor Hoffman.
Some of the characters received voice overs from popular culture icons. Marcus Fenix is voiced by John DiMaggio, best known as the voice of Bender in Futurama, and Augustus "Cole Train" Cole is voiced by Lester "The Mighty Rasta" Speight, who plays "Terrible" Terry Tate, the "Pain Train", in the Office Linebacker commercials made for Reebok. The Cole character is clearly based on the mannerisms and catchphrases of the Tate character.
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Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Act 1: Ashes - As the game opens 14 years after Emergence Day, former soldier Marcus Fenix is freed from the Jacinto Maximum Security Penitentiary by his close friend, Dominic Santiago, who needs Fenix's help in the fight against the Locusts. Both manage to escape the prison moments before it is destroyed by a Corpser (aka Burmak), and then meet up with the other members of Delta Squad, Private Carmine and Lieutenant Kim with orders to find Alpha Squad and secure possession of the "Resonator", a device intended to map out the Locust underground tunnel network for the Lightmass Bomb. En route to Alpha's last known location, Carmine is killed by a Locust sniper and Kim killed by General RAAM. Dominic and Marcus are able to meet up with 2 Privates from Alpha Squad, named Cole and Baird at the House of Sovereigns. After defeating a Locust Berserker, the team confirms with headquarters that the Resonator is safe, and are then ordered to an immulsion mining facility ten kilometers from their position. Marcus is also granted a rank as Sergeant in place of Kim.
Act 2: Nightfall - Dom suggests that the fastest way to reach the mine would be to borrow an APC from a Stranded named Franklin, who owes Dom a favor from deals in the past. After reaching the camp, Franklin reluctantly agrees to give them his "Junker" the APC on the condition that Cole and Baird remain at the Stranded camp to help them defend against the Locust. Marcus and Dom head across the ruined city as nightfall descends, bringing out the carnivorous bat-like creatures that attack anything in the dark known as Krill. The two reach the gas station where the Junker is kept, fight briefly with Locust forces, and drive the Junker back to the camp via a highway, arriving just in time to help defend the camp from a large Locust onslaught. Once the situation is secured, the team moves onwards towards the mining facility.
Act 3: Belly of the Beast - Delta Squad reaches the mining facility just as the Junker ceases to function. They must then make their way on foot through the abandoned facility and into the Imulsion mine tunnels, making their way to a location where the effect of the Resonator should have maximum effect. During this mission, Dom and Marcus re-encounter the Corpser that had followed them into the tunnels, but they are able to defeat it. After setting off the Resonator device and narrowly escaping back to the surface, the team learns the data was much too limited to be of use for the Lightmass Bomb. However, a device found by Baird seems to already contain a near-complete map of the tunnel system, with the data linking back to Marcus' father and his home at the East Barricade Academy.
Act 4: The Long Road Home - Delta Squad rides a Raven helicopter to the East Barricade Academy, now ruined and heavily controlled by Locust, losing a helicopter to an attack by Nemacyst air spores in the sky. The team is dropped off just outside the Academy and are forced to fight their way through massive numbers of Locust to the mansion where Marcus's father lived. Cole and Baird discover another APC in need of repair at the back of the manor, and they rush off to repair it while Marcus and Dom search the manor for the data. After finding the hidden laboratory in the basement, they leave their cloaked robot Jack to download the data and defend the house against waves of Locust attackers. As Jack finishes downloading the tunnel maps, the two soldiers rush for the newly repaired APC behind the manor with a gargantuan reptilian-like Locust called a Brumak already charging towards them. The Squad and Jack reach the APC just as the Brumak smashes through the manor, escaping the pursuing monster.
Act 5: Desperation - The team now rushes for the train station to get aboard the Tyro Pillar, an armoured freight train carrying the Lightmass Bomb at its front. Locust attack them at the station and prevent Cole and Baird from jumping onto the train as it speeds past, leaving only Marcus and Dom to battle through to the front of the train as it travels across the wasteland towards the Locust stronghold. They unfortunately encounter General RAAM at the front of the train, guarding the Lightmass Bomb, but the two are able to defeat him. With a destroyed bridge quickly approaching as the train speeds ahead, Marcus uploads the tunnel data into the Lightmass Bomb and activates it, escaping the train by jumping into a nearby Raven helicopter, with the help of Dom and Col. Hoffman seconds before the train falls off of the tracks and into the Imulsion below. The bombs from Lightmass launch into the Locust tunnels beneath, successfully eradicating most of an important Locust stronghold. Hoffman's voice later announces their victory to the rest of the world, but the haunting voice of what is assumed to be the Locust Queen clearly tells the player that the Locust have not been defeated, and will fight back.
Gears of War supports both split-screen and regular multiplayer over Xbox Live and System Link. There are two multiplayer modes in Gears of War, Cooperative and Versus mode. Multiplayer also adds the "downed" state, which works similar to down comrades the player must help in the single-player missions. When a player has taken too much damage from enemy, their character becomes incapacitated instead of dying instantly. The player remains in this state until they bleed out and die, are killed by the enemy, or are revived by another player. However, in cases where the damage is severe as to cause mutilation or disintegration of the body (including chainsaw attacks, short range shotgun blasts, boomshot hits, sniper headshots, or grenade explosions), the player is dead instantly.
Cooperative gameplay in Gears of War multiplayer allows two players to play through the game from start to finish. The game offers the ability to invite players on the users’ friends list and have them instantly pop in (known as "Drop in, Drop out" gameplay) the player’s game to help them out. Gears of War chooses each player's character depending on certain factors. The first player or multiplayer game host plays as Marcus Fenix (the main character) while the second player as Dominic Santiago, Marcus' best friend.
Cooperative Play differs from the single-player game in some ways. On the sections of levels that offer multiple paths, the first player chooses their own path and effectively sends the other player onto the other. Both players are separated and each tackle separate parts of the level. If either player is downed while on these split paths, both characters will begin from the previous checkpoint. While outside these paths the players may revive each other and use unique flanking maneuvers impossible with the AI.
Multiplayer is team-based, supporting up to eight players (four COGs vs. four Locust) engaging in battles over Xbox Live or through System Link. In versus mode, matches consist of several rounds. Each player starts each round with the same standard set of weapons, but more powerful items of warfare are laid out across each map to be contested by the opposing teams. The team who has won the most rounds at the end of a match wins. There are two types of versus modes, player matches and ranked matches.
Three types of versus modes have been developed: Warzone, Assassination, and Execution.
* Warzone mostly follows the standard Team Deathmatch archetype, with each team trying to eliminate the other. When players are downed they can only get back up when an ally revives them
* Execution is very similar to Warzone, except that when an opponent is down, the opposing team must finish them off using certain violent fatalities. Should the opposing team fail to destroy the downed player during the allotted time, the player will be revived and will once again become a threat.
* Assassination requires that teams focus on killing the other team's designated leader while protecting their own. The leader is the only player that can pick up weapons during play initially. However, if the leader picks up a weapon and drops it, the rest of his team can pick it up. If a non-leader player kills the other team's leader character, that player becomes the new leader on their team the next round.
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