Gears of War is special.
Actually, that doesn't quite get it done. Gears is more than special; it's the action video game you could have only dreamt of previously. Yet, here it is. While playing it, it's hard to feel like you're deserving enough of a title this spectacular, epic, and stunning in every aspect.
From a third person perspective, players control Marcus Fenix, this generation's current Master Chief. Draped in massive oversized armor, bulging with what have to be steroid induced muscles, and guns that would be considered cannons by some current state legislatures, Fenix barrels down the invading Locust horde as if it was a game.
Oh wait, it is.
Reality checks are the only flaw here. With a masterful graphics engine creating immersive environments, Gears is a title that looks ahead of its time. The Locusts are disgusting when popping out of the Earth's crust, with pale faces, scarred bodies and full of gooey blood waiting to be shot out of them.
Design sets the game in a psuedo-future, filled with architecture from a millennia ago, dark forests, high-end electronics and barren city streets. Level design is textbook, wrapped around the games focus on taking cover. The decision to move away from run-and-gun shooting turns out to be a brilliant one. While the Locust forces are hardly Harvard material, it takes only one to make it free of the attack to flank your forces and cause problems that quickly intensify.
Gears of War is jammed with shooting. When the repetition begins setting in, the designers throw in a section of eerie silence thats creates a completely different sense: terror. When the audio mutes, it generally means something bad is about to happen and you won't move without having an adequate source of cover to move to. You can only imagine what that becomes when enemy forces are barreling down on your position and you're stuck behind a small pillar.
It's easy to pass off Gears as a generic knock-off of Namco's Kill.Switch. The first level doesn't encompass the full experience, and around the middle of the second level, things enter the realm of unforgettable. While other games are intent are reusing game mechanics to stretch the experience as long as possible, Gears continually creates new scenarios to keep the duck and cover firefights engrossing.