Despite the fact that I'm about to rent my third copy of this from Blockbuster - the first two have been scratched - and have only gotten a few hours of play in I have to say that Gears of War is a pretty cool game.
It's a futuristic third-person shooter that pits massive gravelly-voiced dudes against The Locust - warriors that look like Draks from Enemy Mine and sound like pissed off daemonic Helghast from Killzone. The combat is possibly some of the best and well programmed third person combat I've played. Gone is the ridiculous "jump" button - seriously who jumps? Vaulting, steepling, hauling ass yes but jumping? It's pretty much just an action button that allows you to take cover and do perform various actions. Cover is essential as is not staying in one place too long. The firefights in Gears of War are intense when they really get going - trying to take down heavy gun emplacements are kind of a nightmare. The Locust are real bastards to kill due to heavy armor and pure meanness. I have actually gotten into drawn out gun battles with Locust only to finish the fight in close combat.
The game looks amazing, sounds amazing, plays well, and still can't manage to have competent squad AI. These guys love running into machine gun fire, charging balls out deep into enemy territory. Sure you can revive them but they are often in such an inconvenient spot that it's easier just to take on the Locust hordes on your own and then patch up your buddies later. There is a bare bones amount of squad control and the squad is successful at drawing attention away from you - allowing you to sneak up on emplacements and better firing positions. I just hope that some day squad AI will be better than cannon fodder/buller magnet.
Gears of War is definitely worth playing and is the first game I'm actually considering playing online because it's that fun. Just expect to die. A lot. Fortunately there are many checkpoints to make life easier. Now if only Blockbuster had a copy I could play.
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