The next game in the series that includes killing underground monsters, shooting lasers out of the sky, and burly-men in bright blue armor is finally here. Gears Of War 4 re-introduces the Coalition of Governments (COG) in a whole new light along with a lot of returning characters in a world set 29 years after Gears Of War 3. As a player that’s gone through the four previous games in the series I was pretty excited to get this game and see how the world has changed after the end of the Locust threat; Now that I’ve finally gone through it, along with going through a few hours in Horde and Versus modes, I’ve got to say that there’s not a whole lot that’s changed.
Good setting and characters: J.D., Del, and Kait’s backgrounds are interesting in the overall plot that comes 29 years after the third installment of the battle against the Locust. While playing the game you hear little tidbits into their backstory and some other information about the world and how it came to it. It gives the player a reason to look for the collectibles, as well, as they each tell more about life after the Human-Locust War through magazines, statues, and other memorabilia. The best part of it all is that it really educates players on more history in the world by walking through locations from before Emergence Day when humans would fight each other over natural resources, courtyards and burial grounds from when kings ruled over lands, and the new COG-created settlements produced by machines.
New array of weapons and enemies: Alongside the traditional weapons that every one who’s played Gears Of War in the past are accustomed to are new and unique weapons that are fun to use (Sadly, no Hammer of Dawn anymore, though). These definitely add to the entertainment value and give a bigger sense of satisfaction when going up online against other players or playing in Horde mode. The enemies are also fun to face like the Snatcher, who tries to gobble you up in their stomach and abduct you, requiring your ally to shoot at them to save you. It’s different from the older titles because you need others’ help to get you out of sticky situations, making it more fun to play co-operative rather than alone.
Out of this world in looks and sounds: From the soundtrack all the way to how the environment gets blown away during Windflares, the game is simply beautiful to say the least. You pass by locations that all look different, explore locations from the world’s history that haven’t been seen before, and fight enemies that look fantastically ugly and visceral. To add to the immersive nature of GOW4, the music track amps up the player while the sound effects from creatures and the environment strike fear in your heart (or groans from hearing a Juvie’s scream). Hearing flesh being blown apart or sawed in two generates the exact grotesque feeling that one expects when they imagine it and the creatures just sound plain amazing. Where this game may lack in a unique plot-line it definitely makes up for by wowing the player’s senses.
AI is amazingly intuitive: Everything from the Swarm to the DBs are very aware of cover, your location, and how to flank you. Even Pouncers, which are a creature you encounter in the game, know exactly what object to hop to for the best position to shoot their jump and shoot their quills at you. Putting the difficulty up to Insane just enhances this and gives the player a massive dose of fear and apprehension because not only does the health drop significantly quicker but it’s instant-death for any quick-time moments.
Lackluster plot and cliffhanger ending: Without spoiling too much of the story it just didn’t do the awesome setting and well-written characters justice. A lot of the twists and central plot have been pretty much re-hashed from the older games and it all gets left off at the end with this cliffhanger that’s not very exciting but clearly reveals there will be more to this than just a fourth game. Not to mention that the final boss felt more like a mid-game boss than anything as it had a very plain pattern to defeating it and not even a proper name! It was simply called “that” or “Hive Boss”. This all comes together to bring the player a short campaign, leaving them disappointed and wanting more.
Customization is whatever: It seems that The Coalition caved into putting in micro-transactions for players to splurge their real-life money on card packs that provide boosters to online gameplay. This has been happening for many of the newer titles out there like Halo 5 and Call of Duty, giving developers and publishers more money in their pockets. Not only that, but the customization isn’t even that great as it only adds color palettes or alternate costumes for characters. Players are accustomed to these color palettes from previous Gears titles but they were usually only applied to weapons, now the characters themselves get them to but at the end of the day it’s not anything to go crazy about. Couldn’t The Coalition make the time and effort to at least add in physical alterations like armor additions or hair-style changes? Well the coolest thing that you’ll get when playing enough and selling your cards is zombie versions of titular heroes that say “braaaaaiiinnsss”. It’s well worth the time and effort for that, at least.
It all feels the same: It’s great to be true to the entire series in terms of gameplay and carrying over the feel of its predecessors but as a title that’s been released later on (like other series adding new mechanics or changing gameplay format) there was nothing really that made it stand out from the others. Gears 4 was more like another addition to the same thing, nothing changed in the gameplay aside from vaulting over walls parkour-style and putting in new weapons. Multiplayer remains the same with similar game types to older Gears titles, and Horde mode has been changed with the inclusion of classes so players can be Engineers to help fix up fortifications and sentries or even a sniper class that boosts your stats with cards like in Halo 5: Guardians. This definitely makes it different but still ultimately the same mode that everyone is used to from the past.
At the end of the day, Gears Of War 4 blasts its way back into our hearts with a good round of the same gameplay that we all love but with all new settings and characters. The world will blow you away with its stellar graphics, granular effects, and immersive soundtrack/effects. Though it lacks in a good plot it more than makes up for it with its replay value, focusing on Horde mode and multiplayer so the player can level up lots like in Call of Duty games. There’s nothing new about it, which would probably be good to some but others might want an experience that feels completely different but from the same world. However, it is still a fun joyride that will face players off against fearsome creatures and deadly weather forecasts. It’s highly recommended for players returning to the series to get it along with players who haven’t tried any of the titles before as backstories and previous games are glossed over pretty well.
- Graphics - 95%95%
- Gameplay - 73%73%
- Controls - 80%80%
- Sound - 88%88%
- Replay Value - 78%78%
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Gears Of War 4 was developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released for Xbox One on October 11th, 2016 worldwide. The title was purchased and played by the reviewer on behalf of The Hidden Levels. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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