It’s been a long time since Gears of War’s Emergence Day. It was the day that introduced gamers to a new Xbox franchise and a machine gun with a chainsaw attached to it. In other words the stuff gamers go crazy for. Gears of War 4 brings back the pop-and-shoot action that made the first three blockbusters hits and also manages to fit in some much needed improvements.
The last time we stepped into the world of Gears Of War (not counting Gears of War: Judgement) COG badass, Marcus Fenix saved the world by helping to emit a pulse that wiped out the Locust horde. The pulse had a adverse effect on the imulsion that the Locusts used as a life source.
Gears of War 4 begins 25 years after those events. The game brilliantly handles exposition by allowing you to play through some major events that occurred between 3 and 4. For example, the first bit features you as a random COG solider during the Pendulum Wars. These expositional bits act as an organic tutorial system to boot. I noticed that each of these stages go from graphics that look like Xbox 360 graphics to full next gen Xbox One graphics as you advance through them. It is a nice way of playing nostalgia while showing how much graphic prowess this one has.
Once you get through that you step into the boots of Marcus Fenix’s son, JD. JD and his friends have grown up outside of COG walls. They spend their days scouting and commandeering parts from COG facilities. The COG facilities are fully automatized and are full of robots constantly repairing and building.
First Prime Minister Jinn leads the newly reformed COGs. She attempts to keep everyone in COG facilities and takes issue with those that live on the outside. I love the duality of Jinn, while she at times seems tyrannical, she is obviously also so demanding because she wants to keep humanity safe and the only way she knows to do that is to keep them inside of COG walls.
For good reason too, it turns out that tons of humans are mysteriously disappearing without a trace. JD, Del and Kaite are taken by surprise when one night their base is attacked by an unknown monstrous force. During the attack Kaite’s mother is taken. With little idea what to do, they seek out some help from yesteryear and begin their journey of finding out what was behind the attack and to rescue Kaite’s mother.
Gears of War 4 features the same gameplay mechanics of previous Gears games. Run for cover, flank, lay down fire, repeat. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. The formula of past Gears games have all worked due to that system of combat. I was cheering to discover little was changed in that department. That being said, there are some big surprises and mechanics in the finale that are some of the most visceral and all around badass gameplay moments I have had this year.
Your old trusty weapons are back too. Lancers, boomshots, longshots, etc… are all welcomed sights. We are also given some new weapons that will help to blow your enemy to bits. The buzzkill fires saw blades at high velocity in order to slice and dice your foes. All the new weapons are great. I am still emotionally attached to my lancer but enjoyed the ability to mix up play styles based on different weapon abilities.
“This is the best
Gears of War yet.”
Much like ‘Star wars: The Force Awakens,’ Gears of War 4 introduces new elements, while also paying fan-service to loyal Gear fanatics. The most welcome of the new stuff, is the story and dialogue. We actually have some now! I think we can all agree that, while the original Gears games were great, they were always lacking in the story department. This time around you are introduced to JD, Del and Kaite, whom each have their very human back stories and motives. The world that used to be completely lacking color outside of grays and blues, now features fall colors and does a lot to immerse you into a more believable world.
The character interactions and their dialogue is the glue holding this game together. Sure, there is the bigger story that has you going after a new enemy and blowing shit up, but it is nice to have the human element thrown in this time. Not only do we get story and dialogue either folks! Gears of War 4 has a sense of humor. JD, Del and Kaite are playful and feature moments that mirror sensibilities of characters from series like Uncharted. There are some genuinely funny moments in there that are a nice break from the colorless, totally serious tone of the entries before.
Do not worry though, Gears of War 4 is also very much a Gears game. The big action set pieces and long firefight-filled journey are all in place. All the wonderful blood and gore are still glorious. Cutting through an enemy with your chainsaw is still a bloody good time. Absolutely nothing was taken from Gears, things were only added to make it even better.
Like Gears games before you can go at the campaign alone or in co-op. You are gonna need a friend around if you decide to have a go at the hardest setting. Sure, hardcore difficulty might sting but the hardest difficulty is nearly impossible alone.
“Absolutely nothing was taken from Gears,
things were only added to make it even better.”
If you are an achievement seeker, like myself, Gears will give you replay value. If you aren’t going back to try out another difficulty level, you can go back and search for collectibles and achieve near impossible feats to help gain more glorious achievement points.
The enemy’s AI is some of the best I have experienced. These dudes are playing to win too. They will lay down cover fire, rush in, flank and are relentlessly precise at it. I highly recommend playing on one of the harder difficulty modes to get the best out of your enemies AI and the game as a whole.
This is the best Gears of War yet. There are enough cool new elements mixed in with the old formula to keep Gears fans very happy. For the first time in Gears history there is an emotional sledgehammer that resonates, to go along with sawing your enemy in half. Gears of War 4 does excels at everything that it aims for and has a finale that is gripping and promises a great story going forward.