318w ago - A year back when Gears of War (GoW) released on the XBOX-360, it was the best thing next to sliced bread and reviewers from every corner of the gaming empire waxed long and sweet poetries about it.
This year, Epic Games has gone another mile to extend their award winning masterpiece to the PC elite. Packing five new chapters in the campaign, new multiplayer content and an epic finale in the form of a boss fight, this game has created some serious concerns among many XBOX360 fans over the "incomplete" version they played yesteryear. How well does this bone crushing title play? Is it worth the delay and extra content to buy it on the PC? Hell, yea!!! Read on to find out more...
Marcus Fenix is back and you play as this ex-prisoner who's silent on the lips and ruthless on the gun. The story takes place fourteen year after an event called Emergence Day where a group of creatures called the 'Locust Horde' burst from the ground and launch a full scale invasion on an otherwise peaceful planet. In a desperate attempt to thwart the ongoing brutality, every person who calls himself a human is called to war for mankind's ultimate survival. Macus Fenix' body armor looks shinier than ever and we're praying solemnly that it would show up on Ebay someday like those 'Big Daddy' costumes of late. Shooting is what makes a shooter game fun but you'd be doing that only half the time in this game.
GoW focuses on strategic coordination of attack and defense maneuvers and it's unlike any other run-and-gun titles these days. Poor use of cover or staying too long in one place will either leave you as the main dish on the Locust's menu or end up being utterly repetitive. One thing the PC gamers can be proud of is the ultra high resolutions and pumped up DX10 eye-candy that this game offers and being used to HD gameplay over the decades; its like night and day compared to the measly XBOX-360's attempt of 720p. Epic entices PC gamers with five new chapters into the campaign ending in a battle with the new 4-storey monster of teeth and guns ready to tear your character apart like a lab rat in the hands of a psychotic med-student.
Multiplayer in GoW is supported by 'Game for Windows-Live' with voice communications, includes three new maps and an all new game mode called 'King of the Hill'. In King-of-the-Hill, players stand and defend a single fixed objective to gain points; much like the Annex mode except it's a lot more fun and challenging to play. Finally, the inclusion of an online co-op feature puts the icing on the cake that's overlooked by many PC shooters of today and this coupled with the online multi-player is what extends the value of the game.
Co-op is an intense action filled drama that will require you to shout out militaristic commands through your microphone while your mom is screaming at you to clean your room, "This is Fox-Alpha requesting permission to engage parental forces and clean out the perimeter"! If you thought the single-player campaign was fun, you'd be thrilled to know that nothing compares to its multiplayer experience but, be aware that you'd need a Windows Live account for the online renegade and you have the Microsoft Marketing team to thank for that (pun intended).
One major source of concern in this game is the ease with which you can kill opponents with the sniper rifle as the game turns into a headshot day and it requires very less effort to accomplish that with the almighty point-and-shoot mouse (hope the Counter-Strike players don't get hold of this title). If there was the freedom of cross-platform play between the XBOX360 n00bs and PC gamers, it would be child's play to beat the gamepad huggers to the ground with the help of your rodent and put those pesky console fans to shame.
The off-camera angle of GoW is something that would require some getting used to and it's pretty obvious that this was created with a gamepad in mind. There's always the option of connecting your 360 controller for the sake of 'old-skool' memorabilia and added rumble effects. Epic has mapped the sprint, leap and cover functions to the same key and gamers can alternatively double tap the movement keys to go into a "roadie run" or dive out of the path of danger. Moreover, the enemies can be felled easily under Casual or even Hard difficulty and only playing on Hardcore mode would do skilled PC gamers justice.
Apart from the clunky controls, the A.I in the game is a thing to worry about since it takes no rocket scientist to figure out that they're downright stupid, but they do create an illusion of being smart none-the-less. An 'illusion' that is! Not only would you be given most of the action for yourself to handle, but also the responsibility of reviving your squad-mates after they take a dozen bullets to the chest due to an A.I malfunction. And failing to be a compassionate "team player" will produce you a 'game over'. Not a big deal really since you'll notice that the enemy A.I. is equally pathetic.
In GoW, there is no question as to how good the graphics are. If the 360 version left gamers leaving chunks of drool on the floor, the PC version just does much better. Gun models are beefy, nothing short of perfect and your squad-mates reek of human feces while trying to hold a conversation with you. The art direction is bloody awesome with buildings looming as rubble in the background and the exhaust of dirt and smoke in the surrounding give you the feeling of being chocked and suffocated. The movements of your character are exceptionally amazing and you can feel Marcus Fenix' weight on the ground as he scuttles across the battlefield in a frenzy of hostile fire.
Character models are impeccable and every minuscule detail is visible from the scratch marks on your buddy's armor to the bullet holes on their fat asses. In-game blood and gore are induced in perfect mixtures and such an amalgam can only be enjoyable even for those that get light-headed on excessive gore (unless you're Buddhist that passes out on the sheer thought of blood). If that doesn't impress you, then maybe the full blown game editor included with this title might. This tool can be used in any number of combinations to create characters, environments or even a new game type and your creative skills are only limited by your imaginative powers.
Sound effects is another world of beauty and magnificence in GoW and the reverberating cackle of the chainsaw bayonet tearing through flesh and bones is the best gaming experience bar none. Weapon sounds are also unbelievably amazing and you get the actual satisfaction of firing a real weapon that not many games have been able to achieve so far and can only be understood when playing the game. Dialogues with your squad-mates are sometimes cheesy and can be considered on the iffy side of things but hey! Who really cares about squabbling team-mates, right?
Alas me lads! Gears of War has lived up to its expectations and keep in mind that this game is not a port of its XBOX-360 counter part or neither does it play like one. The performance of this title is solid; the idea is well implied and levels are thoroughly designed. If the poor A.I and 'weird' controls pass by undeterred in your books, this title would be a must-have ornament for any PC shooter fan. With that said, Epic has enticed PC gamers with its outstanding graphics, extended campaign and added features that has caused our neighboring XBOX fans some unrest. Gears of War is definitely worth playing a second time on a different platform.
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