- Magnificent show (by Unreal Engine 4)
- Quick, visceral combat
- Streamlined movement
Room for Improvement
- Largely unchanged gameplay
I’ve been an avid Xbox gamer since Halo 3, but I’ve never beaten a Gears of War game. Partly due to disinterest and partly due to missing out on co-op with friends, I’ve just never seen the appeal.
It may come as a surprise, then, that Gears of War 4 is one of the games I’m looking forward to most this year.
One of the things that turned me off to previous installments was the ridiculous character modeling. (Ah, Marcus Fenix, the “lovable” meathead space marine who tried to look like Tim Roth’s character at the end of The Incredible Hulk.) J.D. Fenix and his squadmates, however, are streamlined. They’re still space marines, but they feel truer to life than their predecessors. As a result, I felt less like a 12-year-old in a power fantasy and more like a 26-year-old trying to tactically win a firefight.
This brings me to the game’s greatest strength. My time with Gears of War 4’s multiplayer wasn’t just about mutilating enemies with chainsaws and shotguns. The combat hinged upon working together as a squad. When I played with a group that focused on teamwork and flanking, we won every match but one; when I played with people who ran around like headless chickens, we lost every game—badly. In a way, Gears 4 felt like an action-oriented version of the XCOM games, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
Lone wolves be warned—this game just isn’t for you.
The weapons are mostly familiar to returning players (with a few additions), the maps were interesting, and the game modes were fun. Overall, the combat changes seemed minimal to what I remember from sampling the other games, as well as from the commentary of my teammates. The general consensus was thankfulness that the game fans loved was returned to them, unharmed. There were a few who felt that it was too safe for a fifth entry in an established franchise, but even those skeptics seemed to enjoy themselves when actually playing the game.
I won’t pretend like I’m capable of writing a review. (I mean, I only played a few hours of the multiplayer.) Still, I can’t help but analyze what little I did see.
Maybe Gears 4 is a step “back to the basics” for the series’ multiplayer, with more drastic changes tucked into the singleplayer. Personally, as a long-time advocate against Gears of War, I’m just surprised with how much fun I had, and how excited I still am for the full game’s release in October.
In a Nutshell
The Gears beta was exactly what we were told to expect: gorgeous visuals, gory combat, and familiar controls. The squad-centric tone was refreshing after my time in recent third-person shooters (I’m looking at you, Battlefront) and there wasn’t anything in particular that I disliked. Overall, this is a strong sample of the best of what Gears multiplayer has to offer, but (for some) that sample is a bit too familiar to the older games. Time will tell what developer The Coalition brings to the final product.
The Opine doesn’t rate unfinished products, so keep an eye out for our review when the game releases.