Gaming Today Reviews Gears of War (PC)
While I wouldn’t call Gears of War for the PC a highly anticipated title, for those of us who prefer our shooters on the PC, it’s a chance to take a look at what all the hullabaloo was about when Gears was garnering the attention of the majority of XBox 360 gamers. So, I can safely say that I was looking forward to checking out Epic’s console shooter on my PC. I wondered how the game would stack up against shooters designed specifically for the PC, as most console-based shooters simply fall short in many areas.
First off, I liked the fact that there’s a bit of a story woven into Gears. Granted, it’s nothing overarching or anything, but just a little something to help move the action forward. The game does a nice job of working the tutorial areas into the escape from the prison. It allows the player to grasp the mechanics of the cover system and the controls without the tutorial feeling completely out of place.
The player is cast as Marcus Fenix, a troublemaking ex-soldier who is considered a traitor by many of the ‘establishment’ types. Due to the turbulent times in which the game takes place, Fenix is plucked from prison by a fellow soldier (who is apparently acting on his own), handed a suit, and brought back to fight. This is where the story begins to get a little off-kilter. As you’re leaving the prison, your rescuer says something to the effect of, “If they knew I was here to get you, there’d be hell to pay.” However, upon boarding a chopper and flying straight to the side of a high-ranking officer, the officer’s only statement on the matter is that Fenix needs to keep his nose clean, or something similar, along with a passing reference to him as a traitor. It makes one wonder exactly what Fenix did to get into all this trouble in the first place.
Unfortunately, once you get into the meat of the game, you quickly realize that it’s a fairly linear slog through material that most XBox 360 owners have seen before. Yes, there are five new campaigns, but they’re not really that markedly different from the content that was already there. Judging from the similarities, it almost feels like material that was cut from the 360 game for some reason (disk space concerns, perhaps?).
As far as the environments the game takes place in, there’s not a lot of diversity in them, mostly because everything is bombed out or blown to bits. On the plus side, it does give you a fair bit of cover to use the much-vaunted cover system. The cover system works well, and is easy to use intuitively. Unfortunately, it’s all about duck, pop out, shoot a few people, then duck for the rest of the game.
One thing I’ve come to expect from Epic is that they tend to produce games that are fairly well polished. Gears of War is no exception to this. However, and I’m sure you all already know this since you’re such avid readers of our posts, this time around there’s an issue with a title update that can stick you in a cycle of perpetual updating. Thankfully, the steps provided in our post cleared the matter right up for me. I tend to think that this may be more of a Games for Windows LIVE issue than an Epic issue anyway, but then I’m biased against Games for Windows LIVE because I think it’s stupid. Anyway, outside of this small issue, the game plays well at just about any resolution, has reasonable system requirements, and has a remarkable lack of bugs.
As a whole, the port of this game from the XBox 360 to the PC leaves a bit to be desired. I don’t think it’s a failing of the game so much as a reflection of the platform. It’s not that I dislike my 360, it’s just that shooters on a console are necessarily different in their aims, goals, and methods than those on a PC, and they don’t always translate well from one to the other. In many places within the game, it still feels like I should be wielding a gamepad rather than my trusty mouse and keyboard. The cover system, while well-designed and obviously revolutionary for 360 titles, feels a bit awkward under PC control schemes.
Most of all, I think Gears of War isn’t super impressive simply because we’ve seen it all before on the PC. It was a GREAT shooter on 360 from all reports, but it just doesn’t stand shoulder to shoulder with the other PC shooters we’ve seen this year. It’s more like their little brother that sometimes tags along when you go out to play. If you’re looking for a shooter that’s revolutionary, groundbreaking, and one-of-a-kind, this is not it. It’s a competent game, and most certainly not a bad one. It’s just really run-of-the-mill on the PC, and it’s surrounded at release by gobs of FPS titles that present a much stronger product.
While it’s not the best port we could have hoped for, it does capture the feel of a war-torn world on the brink of annihilation.
Graphics are good, but not great. The upside to this is that the game will run pretty well on even a mid-range system, unlike many of the PC shooters that we’re seeing arrive these days. A GeForce 6800GT will be more than enough to run this one.
Again, good but not great. The voice acting isn’t anything to write home about, but the weapon sounds are all pretty impressive.
Replay Value: 7
A solid title, but lacking the polish and intricacy we’re used to seeing from first-person shooters on the PC. You could do a lot worse on PC than Gears, but unfortunately for Epic, you could do a lot better too.