If you owned an Xbox 360 back in the late days of 2006 chances are that you played Gears of War. It was at that point one of the first high selling Xbox 360 games. So when I got the game for Christmas I was eager to play the game that everybody was excited about. What I found just wasn't my Jam, I didn't like the story, I didn't like gameplay and I couldn't identify with any of the characters. My issues with the story should be self-explanatory, and I do not I need to expand on it. Not enjoying the gameplay, however, seems like more of an affront to the game, which has influenced many successful games (some that I enjoy too). The issue wasn't in how the gameplay felt, which is to say “tight,” the issue was that the game was arena after arena of dudes on two sides shooting at each other for roughly just less than ten hours. The characters’ lack of appeal comes from the fact that they're a bunch of assholes who go around “Chainsawing Locust in the Face,” which I guess makes them rapscallions. The game lacked, for me, the appeal that it held for the many people who played and loved the game.
I feel as though knocking Gears of War for the story is a little bit like criticizing the war in Iraq on tactical grounds, it wasn't the focus of the people making the game, but I like to have a reason to care about what happens in a game. Instead I don't, I don't really care about anything that happens because I know it's the just there to create an excuse for me to crouch behind waist-high walls. I also never buy that Humanity is near extinction. Part of that is, while playing Gears of War 2, I have a pop-up that records how many kills I have, sort of like the famous scene in Hot Shots part Deux. Currently, most of the way through Act 2 (of 5), I have over 400 kills. This means that my one dude is worth hundreds of dudes. I don't have any count of how many Locusts I have killed in the first game, but thinking back on it they are clearly outmatched. Of course, none of the other characters are players, and they seem to be killed off at a rate that makes me question the survivability of being an extra in a video game.
The main characters themselves don't really drive this game, however, despite their superior survivability. I guess part of my problem with them is who they represent, a super bad-ass soldier, a super bad-ass soldier who is looking for his wife, a Football player (or this universe's approximate) and an asshole. These were the people that made fun of me for spending my time playing video games in high school, not the sort of people I wanted to go home and play as in my off time. I do find the character Baird, the afore mentioned asshole of the group, to be of particular interest. The entire group, from what I can tell, are just a bunch of assholes, so I wonder if Baird could actually function in normal society. The only other character worth pointing out is the woman who speaks into your headset. She's pretty much the only female in this game (though I hear there are more women in the third game that are actually pretty tough) and she pretty much serves as a secretary, relaying orders between the General character and the main character.
As for the gameplay, there's nothing bad in the way it plays. It's actually what drove me through the first game, but it's very repetitive. They add some twists onto it by adding more enemies, but none of these enemies feel very original, just the same old character types that are older than this game. I have nothing against the paranoia driven, definitely more strategic, hiding behind walls and popping out to shoot a guy, but besides a terrible vehicle segment it felt like that's all there was to the game.
There's nothing terrible about this game, excepting the story, the game plays well and the multi-player, when the game was big, was very popular and played by many. My problem with this game isn't that it's unplayable or broken, it's just unappealing to me. If you're reading this and have never played the game then don't take my word for its quality, just look at the massive following and legacy that the game has. I just need something different from a video game then what Gears of War offers to a player.
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