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“Gearing Up” For Gears Of War

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One of the nice things about having my sister living in my house is that — once again — I have a partner when I just feel like playing a video-game that focuses on shooting the hell out of things.

Lately, that game has been Gears of War for my Xbox 360.

Having made my way through both Halo games for the first generation Xbox, I thought that I would come into this game with a fairly good idea of how things would go.

Basically: I’d scream like a girl and shoot things as I ran about and ducked for cover.

That’s pretty much how I made my way through single-player on both Halos. Now, when it came to the 2-player experience on those games, it was pretty much more of the same, really. My sister and I would run about and scream and curse at each other like drunken sailors on leave.

Eventually, we’d get to the point where we’d turn on each other during the game. If one of us were out of ammo, we’d shoot the other and steal said ammo. Or, if there were a level where driving was involved, we’d rush to the vehicle and drive off and leave the other person behind.

Okay, admit it: driving away while leaving my sister running behind the tank/car/whatever — and watching her as she gives pursuit while firing a machine gun fiercely in my general direction – gives you the giggles too.

It’s okay to laugh: she’s a teenager.

Thinking of all of that, I found myself purchasing Gears of War. When we actually fired it up and began to play, however, all thoughts of how we acted as we played Halo vanished.

While there are some similarities between the two games, Gears is very much a unique creature. Sure you are basically doing a “one man must take on the entire evil disgusting alien-like race” kind of deal, but these creatures are smarter than the average bear, bubba.

The AI for the “Locust” in Gears is just phenomenal. As you ramp up the difficulty, they ramp up their smarts. By the time you are playing on “Insane” they’re basically using solid flanking maneuvers and showing much initiative and dogged determination than any other video-game creatures I’ve ever had the misfortune of being annihilated by.

What makes it all so damned addictive, however, is the fact that when more than one person fires up this game and decides to play together it just shines!

Gone is the occasional boredom you might find in a Halo game, that would prompt you to consider leaving your partner behind as you giggle and drive over the landscape. Oh no, bubba, you don’t have time for that.

If you stop for a moment to consider mischief, you’re most likely going to be stopped for a long long time, as something will kill you.

Two-player co-op in this game is amazing. You really need the other player in Gears. Especially on the higher levels, the chance to have another person run and revive you when you are totally destroyed by a taunting monster is a blessing.

If it were one-player, you’d be toast.

Teams can revive each other, however, at least until the point where one character is killed. Then… you’re up Gears creek, my friend.

That’s not to say that Gears doesn’t offer any moments of levity. Hell no, the game's characters are foul-mouthed as anything you could hope for, and they drop one-liners faster than Robin Williams on acid. They are rude, crude, and in the mood… for destruction.

Actually, Robin Williams on acid would be scarier.

My favorite moment of Gears so far, was during a lull in a particular fierce battle. I was hiding behind a boulder, and praying for the Gods of ammo to deliver unto me some… well, ammo.

My sister ran up to the boulder and began to complain about how many enemies there were, all the while reloading her gun, only to suddenly scream and begin shooting at me like a lunatic.

Rather, at what she thought was me.

She’d managed to find a totally different boulder where one of the locust were hunched down and hiding, and she’d thought it was me. When she stopped right next to it, of course, it began to shoot at her.

“DEAR GOD!!” she screamed. “That’s NOT YOU!!!!!!!”

And, as I sat there and nearly choked to death on drool while laughing at her and attempting to take a drink of my soda, she proceeded to blast that poor creature into video-game oblivion.

Gears of War has been fun as all get-out, is what I’m trying to say, I guess.

At the moment — as I mentioned earlier — we’re running through the difficulties and seeing how “easy” we really did have it earlier in the game. Where we’re at right now, should I have to qualify it, I think we’re at a solid “one death per minute” rate and holding.

It's still a blast.

My only hope and prayer is that the game I have sitting on my counter — waiting for me to be finished with Gears — is one-tenth as fun. What game is that? Find out when I babble about that one, bubba.

Until later…

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