Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gears of War (X360)

Collector's Edition

- There's already a patch that gets downloaded on first boot.
- About 3.5 hrs into the campaign on hardcore. I'm somewhere in the early part of Act 2 (out of 5 acts)
- Graphics are some of the best I've seen in any game to date.
- Framerate is pretty steady throughout the game
- All cut scenes are in engine and done really well. Voice acting and script aren't bad.
- The game play is a perfect blend of tactics and action. It's just one set piece battle after another. Pacing is brutally tense. I actually feel a bit exhausted after the play session.
- You get use to roadie run and cover system very quickly. The fire from cover, aimed fire, blind fire all work really well and you'll use them all many times based on the situation.
- The basic enemy takes a lot of rounds to take down (almost a full clip) so learning the active reload becomes quite important. After about an hour you really get into a rhythm. The quick reload makes quite a bit of difference when you are in a pitched battle.
- Health auto regenerates after a few seconds so there are no health packs.
- Ammo has been plentiful so far.
- After the first act you can start issuing basic attack/defend/regroup commands to your buddies. It works quite well when you have to storm a machine gun nest.
- If there is something interesting you should be looking at press "Y" flashes on the screen. It's a nice system that gets you to look at the cool stuff without taking control away from the player.
- checkpoint auto save system hasn't been too frustrating so far.
- hardcore is pretty difficult so far. There were quite a few battles I had to retry 4 or 5 times before I got through it. The level design, cover, and tactics required in some set piece battles almost gives it a puzzle feel. When you continue the campaign from the main menu it lets you change the difficulty so you aren't stuck at hardcore if you can't handle it.
- Very forgiving squad mate system. If they go down you can just go over and hit X to revive them. Even if you don't at set points in the game (after killing a certain wave of enemies or taking down a particularly tough one) all down squad mates will revive. Trust me this is a very good thing since you will need them.
- The AI has been pretty good so far for both enemy and friendlies. They do a pretty good job of taking cover, blind firing, and aim firing much like you do.
- Great sense of scale in the levels. There are great huge outdoor areas and tight CQB indoor areas. Levels are LONG with little to no load times. Load times are under 4 or 5 seconds when you die and restart from the last check point.
- You can carry two main weapons (which you can swap out), a pistol with a bit of zoom, and some grenades (4 max I think).
- melee works well and pretty intense since the enemy can basically also kill you in one hit when they are that close. Chainsaw is great but it splashes a LOT of blood on the screen making things a bit difficult to see. There also seems to be a bit of delay/recharge period before you can chainsaw your next victim. Don't expect to be able to chainsaw a ton of guys in a row like a Doom.
- weapons in general are very well done (some with an interesting twist) though I've only used about six so far.
- haven't tried multi player yet.
- This game is just so polished with so many innovative gameplay elements/tweaks and amazing graphics, it really does live up to the hype.

I can't recommend this game enough.
It's the one x360 game you have to own.
This IS an X360 system seller!

UPDATE: 11/13/06
Finished on hardcore!
- Sometimes when you just want to run, if you brush up against an object or a wall it will kind of suck you into cover which is very annoying. This is especially apparent on the last boss.
- There seemed to be a big time and story gape between acts 4 and 5. It almost felt like something was cut maybe.
- The final boss was crazy tough. It also made you play the game a bit different that everything up to that point. I used a combination of torque bow and snipe rifle. I had to run back and forth at least twice and nailing something like 15-20 sniper head shots to finally bring him down. I must have played this last boss fight for a solid hour before beating it.
- Ok this game is NOT perfect. There are a few flaws but still a great game.

UPDATE: 11/16/06
about 3 hours of vs and 1 hour of co-op multiplayer
- Co-Op is amazing and I'm trying to finish insane with co-op. Even cliffyb said insane is basically designed for co-op. Having a second human makes insane a lot more enjoyable. I suggest anybody playing the campaign to give co-op a try especially if you are having a hard time. Just create a public one and usually somebody will join up in a few minutes. Better yet create a private one and invite ME and I'll be glad to help. It's so much fun I don't mind replaying levels at all. All the levels were really well designed with co-op in mind from the ground up. You still get all the achievements for completing the campaign in co-op mode vs single player.
- Versus is also amazing with a perfect blend between tactics and action. There's also quite a bit of skill involved and the usual level memorization of where all the good weapons are. Chainsaw and sticky grenade never gets old! The weapons and all the melee attacks are very well thought out and very balanced. There are trade offs for everything. Melee and ranged combat takes a different set of skills. After 3 hrs or so I'm finally starting to suck a lot less and learning the maps. There is a bit of a learning curve. Stick with at least 2 man teams and focus fire on single targets makes a big difference.

UPDATE: 11/23/2006
I finished watching the Bonus DVD
- standard video DVD (no pc extras), single layer
- all shot in 16:9
- destroyed beauty (art slideshow, e3 2006 mural)
- trailers (3)
- inside epic (holidaty 2005: kind of a cheesy company video with their kids, gears: a closer look (30min) - nice kind of making of)
- The race to e3 (20min same aired on mtv, mtv shorts: another nice 25min of making of type footage)

Overall a pretty good bonus dvd.

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