|Release Date||September 6, 2019|
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Xbox for review purposes*
It’s been a long time since I’ve touched a game in the Gears of War series. I remember playing the first game on Christmas Day the year it came out after my brother received it as a Christmas gift. It was a revolutionary game back then and so much fun to play cooperatively. Beyond that, I played a bit of the second game before not really paying too much attention to the series beyond that. Jumping back into it, I can see why the series is still popular to this day.
The Gears of War (Gears now?) series has come a long way from the dark, gritty, and serious setting that the original trilogy was known for. The first act starts off with a vibrant waterfall with some of the most beautiful video game water I’ve ever seen. It’s a stark contrast to everything I’ve known about the series. It’s a more light-hearted approach with a lot of witty one-liners and generally very good writing that kept me engaged as I played through the campaign mode. Gears has evolved while still retaining the cover-shooting qualities that made it stand out all those years ago.
The story focuses on the first female protagonist on the series in Kait. The Locust were resurrected in Gears of War 4 and Kait has since begun seeing strange visions and having extreme headaches embarking players on more of a personal quest. It’s a constant tug of war on whether Kait can be trusted or not. The series seems to have ditched its linear levels for a more open-ended experience allowing for some level exploration. I thought I would hate this choice, but it really works for the series and gives it a fresh coat of paint. Seeing an Arctic landscape that you can cruise around on the back of a sled in while hail is falling from the sky is nothing short of amazing.
The maps aren’t truly open-world and I think that’s for the best. Gears definitely didn’t need to become a collect-a-thon, especially with so many other games out there doing that to pad some playtime. You don’t get that here, there are some collectibles, but they’re pretty easy to find for the most part and it doesn’t take you hours to scour around the world looking for them even if you don’t find them right away. Each map only has a small number of side-activities and they all revolve around combat. The activities like helping nomads in the desert get their water pumps going or plundering an abandoned mine always seem to make sense the story and never seem to out of place or added in just to give more content.
The weaponry in Gears 5 brings back the iconic Lancer for some chainsaw action and mowing through enemies has never been more satisfying. There is also a classic Lancer with a bayonet on it as well as a version with a cluster grenade launcher which helped take out swarms of enemies in quick succession. There is pretty much every type of weapon you could imagine included in the game along with things like Venom Bombs, the Breakers Mace, and the Buzzkill that add some variety to the regular weapons available. I kind of expected some more experimental weapons, but Gears 5 doesn’t stray too far from what you’d expect.
What Gears 5 lacks in experimental weaponry, it makes up for in your awesome drone companion Jack who returns from Gears of War 4. At first, I really thought that Jack was kind of a pointless piece of the game, but I was completely wrong on that. Jack allows for some different gameplay mechanics to be introduced like light puzzles to unlock doors where you have to figure out how to get Jack to unlock a locked door. He can even grab weapons and ammo which is a life-saver at certain points in time. Jack starts off by doing things that are somewhat insignificant like flash-banging the opposition to give you a tactical advantage. Later on, he can cloak the entire team to allow you to sneak up on Locust enemies. You can even upgrade Jack to deal more damage to enemies. He becomes a very valuable part of your team as you upgrade him through the campaign. He can even be used in coop mode (which can be played by up to 3 players) using his cloaking ability instead of cover to protect himself.
Beyond the campaign, Gears 5 adds a new multiplayer mode called “Escape”. This mode has players running from a toxic green wave while battling enemies with an ever-growing arsenal of weapons. The goal is to make it through the complex as fast as you can before the wave hits you. The end sequence can be pretty amazing with all 3 players throwing everything they have at the enemies as the door closes slowly assuming you make it that far. It’s a nice addition to the series especially considering it’s another co-op offering, but it probably isn’t going to take many people’s attention away from Horde Mode.
Horde Mode makes its return and is as good as it has ever been. There are 12 maps at launch and tons of waves of enemies to deal with. There’s even a new enemy in the form of Leeches. There are also hero traits that can alter the way a match is going at the drop of a hat. 50 waves is a tough task for even the most skilled group of players so this is a game mode that a lot of people are going to be playing again and again. I plan to make my way through it more than a few times.
Versus Mode is a little bit more accessible this time around thanks to the new Arcade Mode which is a 50-kill battle where each kill and assist awards skulls and that can be exchanged for better weapons. You can also switch characters at any time. Freedom is the name of the game. Once a new player is ready they can go on to some of the ranked modes for stiffer competition. Rewards come in quite frequently as you rank up and you can start to get some pretty good ones fairly quickly. The odd thing is that there are Terminator and Halo Reach skins right out of the gate along with a Batista skin coming along by the end of the year. These skins seem a little out of place, but why not? it’s fun to have some different characters to play with.
|Fantastic graphics and settings|