Over the Christmas holidays, I purchased Gears of War 4 from the Xbox Online Store. It was part of their end of year sale, saving me 40% off their standard online price, not only that it would include the entire Gears of War collection that came out on 360. The first game I had completed on the Xbox 360 was in fact the original Gears of War (on my uncles 360) and the first game I had bought for my own 360 was Gears of War 2. Unfortunately I never got round to playing number 3, so I thought it would be a perfect excuse for some nostalgic gaming, beginning with the first one.
Before I begin, I want to point out the copy that I had received was not the remastered edition that came out in 2015, it was a straight 360 version for backwards compatible use. In some ways, I was happy about this as I got to relive playing the game as it had when it first came out.
The game opens, with the Locust attack already in full swing and you see crawlers lurking above you and you are introduced to Marcus Fenix who is actually a war prisoner. But he is freed by his comrade Dom, and he gives you the option to learn how to play the game or go straight into the combat. This time around, I chose to go straight into combat, and boy did it go straight in. Immeadiatly you are going into cover and repelling locusts coming after you, now if you remember this is the game that introduced “Stop & Pop gameplay” that has been a stable of third person shooters since. Even after all these years, and all the improvements made to this gameplay, I was still impressed on how quick and snappy the gameplay was and how smooth it felt. You really need to give credit to Epic games, on getting it right so well the first time around. Even though this game is more than 10 years old now, it did not feel out dated and could hold up to many modern shooters of this genre.
My first small gripe came with how much the camera shakes, when you are sprinting. Like damn… I could not recall it really moving the screen that much when I was running.
Maybe it was because at the time we were playing on a 26inch screen, as suppose to a 42inch screen we are currently playing on?
I would imagine this is the case, and even on split screen co-op it wasn’t any better. Still it sort of did add to the experience, of you being in a war or in this case running for safety.
Now the graphics them selves while at the time was a technological standpoint, this is obviously no longer the case. However it still holds up well, and even though it shows its age a bit, it doesn’t feel like it is 10 years old.
I have to admit though, I was never a fan of the whole constant dark grey colour palette
Yes, I have to say I was sort of squelching for a more vibrant colourful atmosphere. The dark gritty war look was used well to create the devastation that was being caused by the Locust, but it was a bit over bearing.
Survival horror experience?
As you progress through the game however, it actually becomes even darker and it goes for the more claustrophobic approach as you try to get to safety. I had actually forgotten how much of a thriller the campaign can be at times. From when you have to run away from the Berserker to when you have to navigate your way through the city at night, but having to stay in the light to avoid being killed by the swarm during nightfall. There is a lot of suspense to this game, where one wrong move when switching to the cover or not sprinting in time to get to a safe point will get you killed. To add to the suspense, the music which is all orchestrated really punches in that dramatic effect and really sells you on how alone Marcus and his crew are. They are in serious danger and even though you have some bad ass weapons at your arsenal, they need to run and keep running.
Keep progressing and the game continues to get darker, where enemies are cloaked in darkness, moving in the shadows while you can hear their screams in the distance. When the corridors get tighter and your kicking through the next door, you see blood everywhere and decapitated bodies, the game puts in flashpoint images of the scenes that happened earlier. There are times where you have to split up and you can hear in the comms of them being attacked, or even finding survivors but later being malled by an enemy as they turn the corner.
Sticking to an Action Shooter
I feel the developers could have really honed in on this, and actually created the game to be more survival horror/thriller suspense. Playing through it again, I was sort of disappointed they didn’t, and how did they not manage to do this?
Oh yes the dialogue!, When the game first came out, everyone was making jokes about it. You know the one liners, the cheesy quotes and sometimes cliched conversations between soldiers. Although I think now the dialogue, would not be getting ripped into as much as it did when it first came out. In this day an age, we are all about throwbacks and looking back on the old days, and the dialogue on this game will remind you of those 80s action movies and you cant help but chuckle at it now.
Baird and Cole, pretty much optimise this and actually help give the game some fresh air, from all the bleak moments.
Its a Classic still.
Overall this game does what it was supposed to do when it had first came out, which was to give you an intense and brutal third person shooter. That you cant help but be impressed by, on what it achieved on being the first game on Xbox 360 to really showcase what the console can do.
Lets not forget the chainsaw and ripping enemies into two, with blood splattering all over the screen
Yes this game is savage, you see limbs exploding, decapitations and curb stomps that completely wreck characters. I am looking forward to playing through the trilogy, and will keep a close eye on how the trilogy developed over the years, but without a doubt. The first Gears of War, was the most darkest and suspenseful of the lot. I hope that the future installments, maybe try and go back to those routes, as this is what made the franchise really stand out.
Did you play the first Gears of War when it first came out? and what were your favourite memories of it?