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Gears of War Review
|ON OTHER PLATFORMS: Xbox360, PC|
developer: Epic Games
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 06, 07 (released)
|» All About Gears of War on ActionTrip|
As you may have heard by now, Gears of War has had immense success on the 360. It was pretty much the title which carried the console till the arrival of Halo 3. Even now, Gears is one of the most played games over Xbox Live, so a port to the PC was, well, a no-brainer. Given, of course, that sufficient amount of time has passed and MS and Epic felt like they've squeezed enough money out of the whole 360 "exclusivity" deal.
Obviously, these conditions are now met as Polish-based studio, People Can Fly, in cooperation with Epic Games releases the PC iteration of GoW.
You might know the flying Poles from their work on the Painkiller franchise. Epic, apparently, saw enough potential in that to let them develop Gears for the PC (and even acquire majority stake in the company).
Overall, this has proven to be a smart move by Epic.
Now for those of you not in the know, it honestly pains me to have to go through the GoW plot, or the general idea behind it. What about reading our X360 review, eh?
Suffice it to say, you play a bad-ass in a world infested by aliens who are bent on eradicating your squad along with the rest of humanity. Gears is a macho, testosterone-soaked action-romp through linear levels with a distinctly arcade feel to the combat - with enemies spawning in pre-scripted sequence as you clear stages of the main campaign.
This "bad-ass" style is really the prevailing theme in GoW, and the designers are adamant in emphasizing this in every bit of dialogue and scripted action sequence. As such, Gears works quite well if you're in the mood for that sort of stuff. The production value is very high, of course, and a lot of the cinematic stuff is worthy of a Hollywood summer blockbuster.
Those of you who haven't played GoW on the 360 should also be aware that, graphically, the game may seem too strict in its implementation of the art style, with very little variation on the predominantly grayish overtones of the decrepit urban backdrops.
Still, the AI works quite well and, as I said, the cinematic and scripted action sequences will make your adrenaline levels jump often. Ironically, while many people slammed Clive Barker's Jericho for its particular style of gameplay, I have found many similarities between that title and Gears of War.
GoW was hailed as the second coming on the 360, but it's really not. It's a good action game nonetheless, and with that in mind, PC gamers who like their action visceral and intense should definitely give this one a shot.
Of course, you probably know all this about Gears of War already, but what I should apostrophize here is that People Can Fly has truly done an excellent job of porting this one to the PC.
First up, GoW is extremely playable even on low-end rigs. I played it first on an Athlon 3500+, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA 7800GT rig and I was able to eradicate Locust scum quite comfortably at 1280x960 and with most graphical bells and whistles maxed out.
My second test rig was an Intel CoreDuo Extreme, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA 8800GTS and Gears ran flawlessly at 1600x1200 and with all the graphics details set to max.
I should also mention that the game can be played in the DirectX 10 variant, under Microsoft Vista, but seriously, just forget about it. Please, before you go drooling over nothing, remember that the game was inherently created for a DirectX 9-based system - the X360. And don't even get me started on Microsoft's shenanigans with forcing DX 10 down our throats.
Additionally, the controls on the PC version feel a lot more natural than on the 360. What the green "A" button was for the 360 game, the Space Bar is for the PC version. This in combination with aiming down with the right mouse button, in addition to the standard mouse look and WASD controls, makes killing stuff in the PC version a lot more enjoyable, easier and more intuitive. Those of you who have played the 360 version will get into the groove of things with consummate ease.
The ONLY thing that may bother you about the controls is the system for issuing orders to your squad members. You have to press down on the "G" button while simultaneously pressing either "Q," "E," or "Space Bar." Not the most fortunate solution to have to press "E" and "G" at the same time while trying to keep your fingers on the "WASD" buttons.
Still, this is a very minor issue, especially given the fact that ordering your squad around is not something that you'll do often in the game. I always let them fend for themselves as they will automatically "resurrect" as soon as the area is cleared of enemies.
As far as the controls, hell, if I didn't know any better I'd say this game was built from the ground up on the PC *cough, cough*.
8.9 Very Good
Great port; smooth performance, great controls, added content, weapons are fun to use;
Games for Windows Live issues, ordering your squad; issues I had with the original: short-ish campaign, rigid, droning art style and linear level design.