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Gears of War: What is it Good For?
game: Gears of War
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
developer: Epic
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 08:09 PM Thu Dec 7th, 2006
last revision: 03:21 PM Fri Dec 8th, 2006

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Click to read.After partaking of the ferrago of chainsaw wails, shotgun bursts, and squishy dismemberment every day since its release (seriously, I wouldn\'t be surprised if I never missed a day), Epic\'s \"Gears of War\" has me unabashadly, unequivocably hooked. It\'s only been now - one month after release - that I feel confident enough to write about the game\'s strengths and weaknesses. Sure, I\'m still short the \"100 headshots\" or \"kill 3 enemies at once 10 times\" achievements among others (I just got the \"kill 100 enemies with the curb-stomp\" achievement), and I\'m still working through the game on Insane, which will give you an idea of my hackneyed skill (I\'m no Luke Edwards, by any stretch of the imagination), but I feel secure in my experience now. Not secure like locked away; secure in the way a prostitute knows what his libelous job, every day, must entail.

For the sake of levity, I will also admit that my win to loss ratio online is somewhat dissapointing, my kills to deaths ratio subpar. That is, as of this week, for every kill I make I had died two times. But \"Gears\" being what it is, I pull my weight, downing people when I can, reviving teammates, acting cannon fodder so the good players can mop up my rivals.

My accuracy is average, from what I\'ve seen of other people, but I\'m not a \"great\" player. My luck is such that, just yesterday, a 15 year old boy (I think) found it cunning and necessary to not only \"down\" me, let me rise, down me again for fifteen minutes, but to tag me with smoke grenades whilst his teammates held a bonfire to my teammates\' splattered remains.


But I still love to play; my ego is e\'er a slave to this game! I usually play Execution/6 Rounds by default as I\'ve found that to be the game\'s really real sweet-spot. Any more and people begin to drop if they\'re losing. Any fewer and I don\'t feel compelled to try hard enough.

I love that \"Gears\" has the option of going to 19 rounds in versus, but I\'ve only done that once and probably won\'t again in the near future. Six seems good. Anywhere above 10 and you\'re risking gamer fatigue. With 6, people can make comebacks without the affect of droppers (usually), or can find time enough to organize a strategic venue - capture the sniper, capture the torque-bow, capture the...and so on.

That being said, after ample playing time and consideration, there are some things I\'d like to see changed in the inevitable sequel.

Matchmake Me - Bitches

Usually you have to just jump into a game with random strangers and hope that their accuracy is as good (or better in my case) as yours, or that they even have headsets (which is IMO the most important necessity for Gears).

So it is for this reason I wish \"Gears\" had an option for team matchmaking in \"Ranked Matches\" (I have read rumors of a patch of this sort) in the same fair as Halo 2 - or something to that effect. I found the online gaming community (unless you\'re playing \"Player Matches\" but who does that?) to be in conflict with \"Gears of War.\" Namely because getting a friend to join a game with you requires far too many keystrokes (or button-presses) in order to tell your friend the game creator, the type of game, and the number of rounds, so he or she can join accordingly. And isn\'t this a game about \"rolling with squad\"? How then can I not have

1) the option of assembling said squad


2) the ease of by which my squad might \"roll\"?

Have we gone back to the stone-age of multiplayer here? Can\'t we learn something from the use of matchmaking in yet another and much older Microsoft game that isn\'t even made for the Xbox 360? I think we can.

That Chainsaw Glitch

Not \"glitch\" per-say, but rather purposely given invulnerability. If you\'ve been playing online you might have noticed such an instance. It happens all the time in my matches: someone on my team gets chainsawed and I come to his aid only to be rendered impotent by the inability to SHOTGUN AT POINT BLANK. I don\'t think this can be underscored enough. Sure, they\'re vulnerable to another chainsaw, but I rarely have it out in close quarters and opt instead for the handy-dandy shotgun. Should priority be given to the chainsaw-bayonet in this case? Maybe. I assume that Epic has gone in to testing fits and come out with this solitary, inexorable solution.

My thoughts on this are still maleable, provided one of my friends gives me a good explanation. But I wish that the game was given a little more flexibility with triggered instances of this sort. Maybe allowing the chainsaw-er some extra toughness in this instance would be acceptable, and should he expire before the animation finishes, so too would the chainsaw-ee. But as it is, when one gamer feels the need to whip out the bayonet, the only solution is to chainsaw that person in turn (which becomes a demented ballet of blood and bodyparts) or to wait until the animation has fully ended before pulling the trigger.

A similar situation happens in Execution with \"downing\" enemies. A downed enemy is invulnerable to any collateral damage, which forces the aggressive player to run up to finish him in one of three ways. Melee (including the chainsaw), curb-stomp, or bullets at close-range. Keeping with the style of the match, this forces the game to play out much different than Warzone or Assassination. Mainly, the game becomes more stategic - either you kill the opponent altogether, or you risk vulnerability to go \"finish\" him.

Take this situation: We\'re in the heat of battle and I \"stick\" the enemy with a grenade (a sure-kill), but my teammate \"downs\" him, sending the enemy into \"invulnerability\" mode, the grenade goes off (damaging nothing but my ego), and the enemy is picked up by his friend and continues to fight. Are we missing something here? Shouldn\'t the enemy have died from a grenade? I firmly believe the \"grenade tag\" should overrule, in this situation, the Execution rule.

I have to admit that I\'m not sure if a chainsawer is invulnerable in the same way. I have seen it go both ways, but it might be in regard to how finished the chainsaw animation is or isn\'t.

What Happened To Green Thumb?

I play Halo 1, 2, and (next year) 3 with the Green Thumb option. This controller layout has the melee attack on the right stick instead of the face buttons. Best thing about this is that I can turn and melee at the same time.

Problem with \"Gears of War\" is that I can\'t turn and melee at the same time. This is obviously a gameplay mechanic, forcing people to take risks in order to deliver instant, savage blows. It works, to an extent. But I sometimes scramble to hit the B button, only to find I\'m facing the wrong way. Sure, Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago are pretty burly, slow characters, but I think they\'d be able to melee and turn at the same time.

To have Green Thumb we wouldn\'t have to change the chainsaw activation. I\'m content with the \"rev\" and \"chainsaw\" buttons being where they are - (B) and (RT) - but couldn\'t we just move the other guns\' melees to the right stick? I would at least expect this to be in the next game. Please, CliffyB? Please?

Looking Over My Left Shoulder

If not the Green Thumb addition, then maybe we can swap fixed Over the Right Shoulder to the left shoulder in-game? Sometimes I find myself blind in a roadie run because my character is blocking my view of the left side. Let\'s just map that to the right joystick press and see how that goes. I wouldn\'t be surprised if the next \"Gears\" features something to this effect, or maybe the ability to define which shoulder to look over (in conjunction with whether your character is left or right handed) beforehand?

Just a Little Bit More

I cannot deny that \"Gears\" could stand to gain with a few new maps and game modes. The affect of killing lots of people is great, but diversity helps extend it\'s shelf life. I was thinking maybe a 2v2v2v2 (where we have similar character models working together?) or a few more modes like Execution and Assassination (maybe a combination of the two?) Or even some mods. Different starting weapons? Locations? Rocket Arena - what happened to that?

I know the game is supposed to be serious, but we could easily drop in a mod like \"explosive people\" so whenever someone dies they explode a harmless display, no matter what happens.

I\'m sick; I know it.

What is It Good For?

There\'s some amazing gameplay in \"Gears of War\" and most of it (if not all of it) has to do with the ingenious \"stop and pop\" mechanic, the roadie run, and the cover system. What \"Gears\" does so right is the preference put to teamwork over brute force, strategy over lucky shots (though they do happen), and formation over one-man-islands.

When working together and communicating, my team has a good chance to win, but once we start ripping each other down (which happens a lot online) the game starts to slip away. I\'ve seen games where one person on a team can have nearly 13 kills after 6 rounds, but their team lost simply because the rest of the team didn\'t work together.

But what can I do? I love this game. On one level it appeals to the strategy fan in me, on another the paintball lover, and on another still, the part of me that smirks at gratuitous violence.

But \"Gears of War\" is a gem of a game. The gameplay is intense. The graphics are just so pretty. The story lacks some depth, but it makes up for it in character and attitude - Gotta love the Cole-Train!

Look for me online, send a message, or friend invite: My GamerTag is \"Earthborn\".

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