Gears of War, a week later

Image1.jpgSo last Thursday, I finished the Gears of War single-player campaign. Here are some observations from the single player game.

I’ve noticed this a lot with games lately, but it seems like there is so much detail paid to setting the scene, creating the mood and starting the story that the rest of the game never lives up to the first few hours. I’m sure it’s not intentional and more of a consequence of schedule pressure and deadlines, but it’s unfortunate. Gears of War suffers a bit from this problem, but a bigger issue is a disjointed story. If you hadn’t been paying attention to the trailers and teasers before this game launched or if you hadn’t read the manual, you’d have no idea what was going on with the story. Then things happen so fast that there isn’t time to fill in the story. Things just happen, without a whole lot of explanation.

That being said, the pacing of the game is excellent. There’s no backtracking, no pointless objectives, just non-stop action. Checkpoints were seamless and the action moved quickly. This is the way action games should be paced. I just couldn’t believe how short the game was! I didn’t time myself, but I bet I didn’t spend more than eight hours here. That’s disappointing. Sure, I’ll spend some time trying the game at the higher difficulties and play a bunch of multiplayer, but the single player is just too short.

The actual game play is a mostly good with a few flaws. There have been many different descriptions of the in-game action. Some call it “stop-and-pop.” Hiding under cover and knowing when to pop out and shoot and when to blindfire, keeping yourself safe, is the name of the game. Me, I’d describe the game as a next-generation whack-a-mole. There were countless times where I’d be hiding under cover, being shot at by three different bad guys. I’d pop out to shoot and have to guess which of the three was going to pop up first. The first time it happened, I thought to myself, “I’m playing whack-a-mole.” What a buzz-kill that was. Where was the innovation? Where was the new game play? I sure didn’t find it.

After finishing the single player, I jumped on to Live to try out some multiplayer games. Most games are four-on-four, with different objectives like “killing the leader.” Most of the guys I ran around with were pretty cool and the games were fun but nothing special. The games are quick and demand teamwork, but with the pick-up ground aspect of matchmaking doesn’t really lend itself to developing that “teamwork.” Another problem with the matchmaking is the fact the game kicks you out to the main menu after the match is over. There’s no lobby or any other way to socialize. The games themselves are enjoyable but the overall experience was uninspired.

I was gonna try to jump into some co-op, but I haven’t been successful with that yet so far. Hopefully I’ll be able to give that a fair shake soon, to complete the experinece but overall, I’m satisfied. Not overwhelmed and definitely not blown away. This is not a 10/10 game. I would recommend this game with qualifiers. It’s short, yes, and it’s multiplayer experience is less-than-stellar, but it’s still a fun game.

Comments

  1. I agree with all of this except for multi-player.

    However, let me address single-player first: It totally fits my lifestyle. It’s not deep and I can just sit down and play 10-15 minutes at a jaunt. Yes, the pacing is great and the checkpoints worked well.

    Multi-player: the team based matches is where this is at. Nothing is better than outflanking your enemy….especially when it comes to using chainsaws.

    Co-op: I’ve had the most “run-and-gun” fun with this aspect of the game. Great for getting through tough spots (increase that difficulty, Tony!), and it’s also great for just shootin’ the breeze with a friend.

    I’d give it an 8.8 out of 10. Maybe a 9-9.3 if I didn’t have to do some parts over and over (Bezerker!) until I figure it out.

  2. FlamingSquirrel says:

    As of right now (5 hours into the game) I have found no problems with LoZ:TP.
    lol at whack-a-mole!

  3. ag – I’ll have to hook up with you to try out some coop. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle. The multiplayer mechanics work, I’m just not in love with them.

  4. mister slim says:

    According to Mike Capps, several levels were cut during development, apparently due to lack of time. I’m guessing there was supposed to be a bit more story in those chunks. I’ll still enjoy watching this story trickle out in two more installments over the next three years.

  5. Yeah, speaking as someone who was (surprisingly) unversed in the story before the game’s release, I can confidently say that I was thoroughly confused throughout the entire game.

    That being said, I happily enjoyed the romp. I wish it was longer though – I thought it weighed in a little short at about 8 hours tops for me.

  6. mister slim – You bring up something I had meant to comment on – I was disappointed by the obvious cliff-hanger they used at the end of the game. I’m okay with sequels but the way the ended GoW was so blatant that it was almost insulting. But I’ll give the sequels a fair shake, of course.

    Jason – about 8 hours for me , too. Maybe the insane difficulty will prove a little more.

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