At The Man Times we couldn’t be bigger Gears of War fans so after teasing ourselves with the Ultimate Edition for what seemed like forever we finally have a shiny new addition to the franchise. It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for this game and let me tell you now, it is worth the wait. Life on the planet Sera has not returned to Normal and Humans are still an endangered species, the planet has become hostile and the humans of Sera fight for survival on a Daily Basis. We re-join the Story 25 years after the end of the events of Gears of War 3 and you play the role of JD Phoenix, Son of the Legendary Marcus Phoenix and his companions. Young JD is a little more precocious than his father but still with some of that trademark sarcasm.
The gameplay is familiar, very little has changed in that regard, mechanically the game has changed very little since the first one, but there are a few new weapons brought into the game, including my personal favourite the Overkill an oversized shot gun with ridiculously short range but with the power to obliterate anything within that range. The Voice Talent in the game is noticeable, Liam MacIntyre (Spartacus), Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue, The West Wing) and Claudia Black (Stargate SG-1, Containment) all join a stellar cast led by Marcus Phoenix actor and voice acting legend John DiMaggio (Futurama amongst loads) and a few returning people too.
Multiplayer has changed slightly too, the Lancer actually has some stopping power which changes the game away from a shotgun storm of previous games to something that requires a little more patience and changes the playability and the addition of new weapons into the game adds a dimension particularly at range. There is the standard range of new maps mixed with few old classics and the game mode.
The Story has that familiar feeling to it. Like Star Trek 2009 and The Force Awakens, everything seems and feels familiar and feels right. It’s different but the same, one of those magical touches that story tellers often find so difficult. Story has always been the Gears franchise’s strongest suits. Where as in games like Call of Duty you are just a cog in a machine, completing missions while the story happens around you, in Gears of War you are the Story and that allows you to invest more in the characters, you fight your way through and the story develops around you, each new piece of adversity throwing you deeper into the mire. In Call of Duty games you feel like the story would be going on even if you weren’t there, some other mindless drone would replace you and do your job instead, whereas with Gears of War the story wouldn’t be happening if you weren’t there, you are it and humanity would have been wiped out by the Locust before the end of Gears 2 without you.
Let’s talk bad guys, the lines are a little blurred at the start of Gears 4 but the emergence of the Swarm, the new nemesis of humanity quickly clears that up and brings out a terrifying new enemy. The Swarm are similar to the Locust in many respect but where the Locust were lumbering great brutes, the swarm are fast, smart and hyper aggressive. Where some of the larger locust would lumber across the map and allow you to slowly pick them off, there’s no such luck with the Swarm. Don’t get me started on DeeBees, those guys are insane, these are the first bad guys you will come across, and they have an almighty temper for robots, particularly some of the larger ones.
Life on Sera changed forever after the end of Gears 3 and after playing through Gears 4 on insane difficulty you’ll wish Humanity hadn’t survived to see what’s coming. Brilliant, Simply Brilliant.