Developer(s) – Epic Games
Publisher(s) – Microsoft Game Studios
Designer(s) – Cliff Bleszinski
Producer(s) – Rod Fergusson
PEGI – 18
Released back in 2006 to widespread critical acclaim from both gamers and reviewers alike, Gears of War went from a beloved third-person shooter to go on and spawn a huge system-selling franchise for Microsoft, with 5 main entries in the series and 2 spin-off titles thus far. Out of the original three games, to me, the original still remains the best, as it delivered the best in every aspect that the next two games would both fall short on and failed to expand on at the same time. The original game remains a seventh-generation classic and for good reason.
Graphics – 9.5/10
The first thing to notice is the visuals, which stood out as not only technically marvelous, doing incredibly to show off early on what the Xbox 360 was capable of graphics-wise, but out of the original three games, it also does best to perpetuate the inexplicably wonderful sense of dread that the series came to be known for, literally from the start of the game, as it begins in a dank prison cell with a history of violence. The settings are also incredibly diverse, and although it can be argued that the settings of the second game were possibly more so, in my opinion, the first still did better to set the tone of the entire series. It definitely does this better than the third game, and the settings are still more diverse than that of Gears 3.
Gameplay – 8/10
In its basic design, Gears of War, as well as every other main entry in the series, is a third-person shooter involving blasting through hordes of alien enemies, limited to just the Locusts in the first game, as well as finding strategic cover to become protected from enemy fire, and subsequently advancing through each phase of the story, as well as there being a very progressive online multiplayer mode. There’s not much to the series in general than that, and that’s why in my opinion, the following games in the series failed to impress me as such as what should come to be expected from sequels, but as this was the first, it seemed less disappointing, and it was a relatively new style of play at the time of when it came out. It was a breath of fresh back in 2006 to play a game structured like this after the market had become firmly oversaturated with FPS games throughout the sixth generation.
Controls – 10/10
The game’s movement controls and shooting mechanics were also very crisp and fluent, even for what was at that time a relatively new idea. Though it had borrowed from games like Resident Evil 4, Kill Switch and Second Sight, Gears of War, in my opinion, did a lot of the same things bigger, better, and all at once, and it made for a far superior game; not only in terms of controls but in terms of overall quality as well.
Lifespan – 6/10
Lasting around 5 to 6 hours, the lifespan of the game is not great, but at the time, it was just about tolerable since it seemed inevitable after playing that there would be a sequel or two. The lifespan of each game remained there about the same, and so later entries seemed much more disappointing than this because of that, but regarding the first game, the amount of time seems more acceptable; though not outstanding. There could have been a lot more added to the first game to make it last even longer outside of the small side quests of collecting the cog tags.
Storyline – 8/10
The story of Gears of War centers around Marcus Fenix, a soldier fighting an interplanetary war between humanity and an alien race known as the locusts for the human faction known as the Coalition of Ordered Governments, or COG. After recently being reinstated into COG following his prior court marshaling, he is joined by his best friend Dominic Santiago, as well as a contingency of other COG soldiers, to continue the fight against the locusts and one of their highest-ranking leaders General Raam. The first game contains a lot fewer emotionally charged scenes than what the next two games would bring, however, to me, it still has the best story, since it accommodates for the lack of the tragedy element with things such as horror, mystery, and build-ups of tension. For example, the sequence in which the team is being chased around by the berserker remains my favorite moment in the series to date.
Originality – 8/10
Though again, the series would seem far less unique as time went on, since the developers seemed far too reluctant to switch things up to any great extent (at least with Gears 2 and 3 anyway), the first game was far more unique at the time because it was an idea that had yet to be expanded upon with future games that played out similarly to it, such as Uncharted and Mass Effect. The first Gears of War set a trend throughout the seventh generation that was welcomed with open arms by gamers, and for a game that’s able to do that, you can’t help but consider it a unique experience.
Overall the first Gears of War is most definitely the best entry in the original trilogy. It’s fun to play with a decent story, and though it doesn’t last as long as what it had the potential to (along with the next 2 games), there is a fair amount of fun to be had for the short time it lasts.