Friday, December 29, 2006

Gears of War

Gears of War (GoW) is a first person shooter for the X360. It won best 360 game and game of the year on GS. I was surprised when I head this as I thought it was going to go to the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion which is a open-ended RPG that came out earlier this year. So, when my friend got it, I was round their instantly to check it out and see if it was worthy of the award. In short, yes it is. Although I prefer Oblivion, the addition of multiplayer gives this game have a very strong advantage.

I started off with the tutorial. With in seconds you are wowed by the game graphics. Then, you are presented with a choice. You can either go one way, which is safer but longer, or the other way which is quicker but far more dangerous. Choices such as these are scattered throughout the game, but, as I understand, are few and far between. I choose the safer one so that I could get used to the controls. The controls are very intuitive with only a couple of buttons as a surprise. One of the main features to survive is pressing (A). This will put you behind any cover you are near. You then use left trigger to come out and aim (using the right trigger to fire). Alternatively, you can "blind fire" which is where you hold your gun above cover and shoot. The A button also allows you to dive to over cover quickly so you can improve your position without too much danger. However, while you are still getting used to the controls, you may find yourself darting from two bits of cover when you just want to walk away. Also, you can, when you are hiding behind cover, jump over it in a cool, action movie style way. The problem is, to do this you must first hind behind the cover, so, if you are just trying to look cool it is difficult.

The combat, which is clearly the focus of this game, is fairly standard bolstered up by above-standard graphics, awesome physics and a chainsaw! Combat is almost non-stop and very chaotic. Picking up the game thread, my friend loaded himself in, which was perfectly seamless and this happened whilst watching a intro video which I was very impressed with. In combat, you need to hide behind cover if you want to survive for a lengthy period of time. As I mentioned, you press LT to come out of the cover and aim. You then must quickly find a enemy, shoot it and hide again. You can carry up to four weapons but in the game play I experienced, more advanced weapons, such as sniper rifles, would be completely unsuitable as the enemy is about 20 feet from you and swarm towards you in huge packs. The common tactic is just blowing them away as quickly as you can with the machine gun you have. Sometimes, if the enemy surround you, cover is unusable you must charge at them with the chainsaw. This is both very effective and bloody affair with blood being spurted all over the screen.

In the middle of combat, one of your team with probably be killed, in my case, it was my friend. In the game you can bring people back to life or "revive" them as the game calls it. As I ran towards him and leaped over the cover I noticed the bady was still there. I kicked up my chainsaw, sliced him and was just in time to save my friend. Just as I did, he shot a bady from behind me. What makes this game so good, is that this pace and intensity is non-stop. Portals open in the ground and the enemy come pouring out of them. You roll around on the floor dodging fire and searching for some cover, only to see it get shredded by the bullets.

The multiplayer manages to recreate this mayhem with only two people. The maps are dense which makes finding each other quite easy. A battle with 8 or 16 people would just be physco. In MP you can revive yourself except when you have been chain sawed. However, while you are reviving yourself, the other person can stop you by shooting you, stamping on your head or chain sawing you.

In one MP game, we were in this mansion, I was hiding behind a wooden pillar and he had just entered on the ground floor. I swung round the post and sprayed him with fire. He dived to the floor and shot up at my deck. I inadvertently undocked from the cover, which was shedding splinters at the time. I dived to the next pillar and slammed my back to it. I swung round again but he was already behind the sofa. I shot the sofa and he saw it shred in front of his eyes. He leapt over the remains’, I shot him. He fell. I ran over to finish him off, but in my desire to be speedy I docked on to some cover and kept diving between the opposite post. I finally got free and he shot me having revived himself. I desperately tapped (a) to bring myself back to life but he was already on top of me with a chainsaw. By this point I had broken a sweat and was breathing fast. "Again?" he said, "Hell yeah."

The graphics have raised the bar to a very high standard, and this wasn't even on a HD TV. The detail on everything is astounding and the blood is, well, bloody.

I think this puts us in very good stead for a solid Halo 3. This game has showed what the system is capable of as the game showed no noticeable lag, even in intense fire fights. If Halo 3 can reproduce this intensity, which has never previously been possible (which is why I like DF2 so much as the MP has the chaotic intensity which every other game is now starting to reach), but with the amazing Halo 3 vehicles. If Bungie do this, Halo 3 truly will be amazing.

On the note of Halo 3. I have a theory that I am going to try and validate. A month or so ago there were rumours that Brutes would be playable in the upcoming Halo. This rumour was inspired because the Brutes were having a lot of attention realted to weapons development. This is what happened with the Elite in Halo 2. Then, on the front of XBM there was the Halo "3" with "the holy trinity" written underneath in Halo script. Everyone just interpreted this as the holy 3 games. Today, I viewed this video and it spent quite a long time dipicting the time gone in to developing the new brute. My theory is this, That you can control the Brute, in a battle against a greater evil. These 3 act as the Holy Trinity. A more off the wall idea is that it will be like "Brute Force" (coincidence?) which allowed you to switch between the different characters. At the very least, the Brutes are going to play a crucial role in Halo 3.

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