Microsoft’s version of “the force awakens”
The original Gears of War launched in 2006, was developed by Epic games and was the reason you purchased an Xbox 360. The game showcased not only what the Xbox 360 could do but also showcased the power of the Unreal Engine. As Gears 2 and 3 were released, Epic games not only optimized the Unreal Engine, but also weaved a very interesting story arc and addictive multiplayer ensuring the franchise grew in the right direction. Today we have with us Gears of War 4. The game is based on an engine that I have been waiting to see in action – the Unreal Engine 4. The game is also developed by The Coalition and not Epic Games.
Put simply, Gears of War 4 is for the franchise what Star Wars: The Force Awakens is for Star Wars. The game plays it safe with things like story and gameplay but introduces new characters, while keeping fan favourites in the mix. It also throws some new elements in the game that will please both fans and newcomers to the franchise while keeping the core gameplay very close to the original.
Gears of War 4 takes place 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3. The Locust and the Lambent have been destroyed, and humanity is “setting up” life all over again. You don the role of JD Fenix, son of the legendary Marcus Fenix. The events of the game unfold over a period of 24 hours. JD and his friends decide to raid a COG settlement under construction to steal a special fabricator to provide power to the settlement they are living in. As always things don’t go according to plan. With the standard slew of plot twists we find our hero and his friends facing off a new invasion. The story is quite similar to what we have seen in Gears of War 1 but it does set itself apart from GOW1. Its just how the Force Awakens is similar yet different when compared to a New Hope.
Overall, the story of the Gears of War 4 is good. There are the obvious plot twists and turns but the way they have been executed will keep you engaged and entertained.
Anyone who has played a Gears of War game will feel right at home here. The cover based shooting mechanics haven’t changed much throughout the life of the franchise but there are some cool additions in Gears of War 4. To begin with, you can now grab an enemy that’s hidden behind cover and stab him with the knife. The movement between cover to cover feels smoother. There is the stand pull this leaver to open that door to progress through the game that we have seen time and again.
The gameplay is linear just as we have seen in the Uncharted franchise and previous Gears of War games. What will keep you going is how well the game is paced between set-piece moments, hoard mode and the standard corridor shooting. There are some vehicle moments in the game too and this is a nice break from the standard cover based shooting. The inclusion of Hoard mode in the story of the game is really nice and an effective gameplay mechanic.
Coming to the weapons all the fan favourites from the previous games are here. There are two new weapons that deserve mention – Dropshot and the Buzzkill. The dropshot is a grenade launcher where you can manually trigger the time and place where the grenade explodes. The Buzzkill fires buzzsaws and is essentially a lot like the blade launcher we have seen in Ratchet and Clank. The addition of the new weapons is nice and mixs up the gameplay quite a bit.
Moving on to online, there are the standard slew of modes, including hoard mode for you to enjoy. If you have played any of the previous Gears games, you will be right at home in multiplayer. It is slightly unfair the advantage gamers have with the shotgun in multiplayer but then again, I ain’t that great a player when it comes to GOW online.
This is the first action adventure game that I have played that is based on the Unreal Engine 4. Put simply the game looks gorgeous. We played the game on the Xbox One S and even though we didn’t have an HDR capable TV during the process of reviewing the game, the game looks great in SDR. If you remember, Gears of War 1 and 2 had a grey scale colour scheme. With Gears of war 4, the colour scheme is not only diverse but vibrant too. From the blue in the armour of the lead protagonist to the red in the storm and the green of the forests, the environments in the game look great. It’s needless to say that we can’t wait to see what developers do with the Unreal engine 4 especially when you consider the fact that we have games like the Batman: Arkham series, Borderlands, Balltleborn, Mortal Kombat X and more based on the Unreal Engine 3.
There are times when you see patchy textures, or texture pop-ins but these are far and few. The reason they are so noticeable is because the overall game is so beautiful.
There was no noticeable stutter or frame rate drop even in the high octave action sequences. The game runs at a sold 30FPS in single player and 60FPS in multiplayer on the Xbox One.
Platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Overall Gears of War 4 is a game that you can really appreciate visually.
Getting the worst out of the way, I personally didn’t like the voice acting of the lead protagonist. The developers have tried to make him a Gears version of Nathan Drake but it hasn’t turned out like that. Also the fact that as long as Marcus is on screen he overshadows everyone else. Apart from that, the sound quality of the game is what you’d expect from a Gears game. From the whirling of the chainsaw as you cut through enemies to the sound of rapid fire during gun fights, the sound is immersive. There isn’t a quiet moment in the game and that’s good in a way considering how fast paced it is.
Some of the standard NPC dialogues are repeated quite often but that’s an annoyance you can get over
gears of war 4 verdict
The only drawback is that the story end in about 8 hours in Normal difficulty. The campaign isn’t long but if you have a friend visiting there is reason to play it in split screen co-op. Add to it the fact that the online multiplayer can keep you going for about 100 hours and you have a value for money proposition. I really appreciate the fact that Gears 4 offers offline split screen co-op. It makes gaming with friends on the days the Internet isn’t working a lot of fun. If you own an Xbox One, then you should definitely check out Gears of War 4. Its campaign is fresh enough to entertain new comers and has enough to keep fans of the franchise happy, just like the Force Awakens.
Fun gameplay with stunning set pieces
|Campaign ended sooner than I’d like|
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.