The future, according to Gears of War, is a hard old place. In the future humanity as we know it has ceased to exist, having been seemingly replaced by a race of huge, heavily armoured testicles fighting an endless war against an unstoppable alien host.
It’s tough to love the hulking behemoths that make up Delta Squad: Gears of War’s wisecracking team of tough-talking central characters. They’re just too damn manly. So manly in fact that you’ll begin to have suspicions about them. It’s as though Marcus and Dom have made mad cathartic love amongst the last ruins of human civilization and are spending the entire game desperately trying to get back into their respective closets. This might initially be hard to twig as all Marcus Fenix really says for the entire game is “ah shit”, or “copy that”, but it’s all there once you realize, in those glances exchanged between reloads, in the way one tenderly revives the other when he falls. It’s Brokeback Mountain, in the future, with aliens.
In fairness for all we know they might not be aliens at all, they could be mutants, or vampires, or just extremely ugly humans. Nothing in the game is really explained, and at any given point it’s never quite apparent where you’re going or why. Fortunately this hardly matters as the guns are big and satisfying and the blood is globulous and plentiful. Honourable mentions go to the now infamous chainsaw bayonet for its spectacular melee attack, and the torque bow, which is a longbow that shoots arrows, but this is the future, so once your arrows hit they detonate after a few seconds sending pieces of your enemies everywhere. If that’s not to your taste then there’s the Hammer of God, a giant space lazer that rains fiery death upon your enemies at your command.
Despite the difficulties that arise from trying to make your grey character shoot another grey alien in an immensely detailed but ultimately grey environment Gears of War manages to be rather enjoyable to play. This is thanks mainly to an extremely well implemented cover system. One button handles all of your cover activity, allowing you to deftly shift between the many obstacles placed conspicuously throughout the levels. You can blind-fire or pop up for more accurate aiming, and you can go ‘over the top’ to make a mad dash for more advanced shelter. The game especially shines in co-op play, providing branching paths that cross and interact, making for some fascinating strategic interchanges with your partner. The game is a good length too, never letting its core mechanics grow stale. It introduces new ideas that keep the gameplay fresh and exciting all the way up to the end.
Unless you’re especially interested in the fiercely competitive multiplayer scene Gears is a solid gold rental for a rainy weekend, especially if you’ve got someone to play with. Alternatively, pick up the PC version if you have a machine that can run it, it contains a good amount of extra content, and is the only way to see Gears at its manly best.
Things that happened while playing this game:
-Watched from a distance as Dante, playing as Dom, grenade tagged a Boomer, rolled backwards into a wall and died gloriously in the explosion.
-Bludgeoned a locust to death with the butt of a revolver.
-Shouted “they’re coming out of the walls!” when first swarmed by wretches.