I had a bit of a scare right off the bat — I started up my 360 to the red ring of death. I panicked because I ran the Dashboard update last week and hadn’t booted up the 360 since. Just last night I chatted with a buddy of mine whose 360 died on him shortly after updating, so I was certain mine was down for the count, too. But I turned it off, took a deep breath, restarted it and it booted right up. Phew. I thought I’d be GoW-less for a minute there.
So, what to say about my first impressions? I’ll be honest — for the first half hour, I was not digging GoW at all. I didn’t like the controls, they felt too sluggish for me and things didn’t feel right. The action was intense, almost too much so. At times, so many things were going on around me that I was completely disoriented and going crazy trying to figure out what the frack was going on. I couldn’t tell my teammates apart from the bad guys. As soon as I’d find something to shoot at, someone was blasting me in the face. I had no idea how he got around me, but there he was, punching my face in.
Then I realized that all the mayhem was exactly how the game was supposed to feel. The bad guys were actually using a little bit of strategy. One guy kept me occupied with the other one flanked me. I finally got comfortable with the duck-and-cover gameplay and how to watch my back and things started to click. I was using the environment to my advantage and I was curb stomping grubs in no time.
I think my first mistake was not starting off with the easy/normal difficulty. I jumped right in with the higher difficulty and I think that hindered my progress. When I go back to the game tomorrow, I’m starting over with the normal difficulty. Call me a sissy, but I’d rather get a better hang of the game before I tried to tackle the harder difficulties.
Aside from the control issues I have primarily, I can say that Gears of War is, so far, an excellent game. The visuals are stunning. The details, like heat coming off the barrel of the gun to the sweat and grime on the soldiers arms, are amazing. I still can’t get over how good things look, especially on my standard-def TV. It looks FANTASTIC. The sound is great and the voice acting is a treat as well. Gears of War is one polished game.
I will say that the learning curve is probably going to be steep for a lot of people. I think it may turn some people off, especially those who will be hoping for a run and gun shooter. GoW certainly isn’t that at all. But if you’re willing to get past the learning curve, GoW is extremely fun. I can’t wait to get back to it.