Review: Gears of War 4 (Singleplayer)
“Gears of War 4” is a third-person cover shooter developed by “The Coalition” and has been released for Windows 10 and Xbox One. The game is a sequel to the original “Gears of War” trilogy but features a new cast of characters and is set 25 years after the events of the previous games. Please be aware that we will only be reviewing the singleplayer in this game. Determining the value of the multiplayer is left up to you to decide.
The main protagonist of this game is James Fenix, who is the son of Marcus Fenix, the protagonist of the previous trilogy. James and his comrade Delmont “Del” Walker have deserted the so called COG, due to disagreement with the hardline policies of its leader, First Minister Jinn. They have then joined an Outsider settlement, a community living outside of COG jurisdiction, where they’ve met up with the last member of the main cast, Kait Diaz. The story starts off with them, together with Kait’s uncle Oscar, raiding a COG settlement under construction to obtain a Fabricator, which is desperately needed by the Outsider village to restore their access to power.
From there on out a wild and exciting ride starts and you are constantly left wondering what there is around the next corner. You are oftentimes instilled a sense of war, danger and horror and are constantly imagining on how to get out of the current situation. Franchise veterans will notice all the references and nods to the previous installment, which unfortunately will be missed out on by newcomers. There is one fairly important point in the game where this is actually quite a problem for newcomers. We have noted it down in the Spoilerbox below.
Looking at the game’s atmosphere, the first thing you notice is the fantastic visuals. The game is made in Unreal Engine 4 and is one of the best looking games to date. It also has a great technical performance on PC, which makes it stand out greatly from most other games on the Windows 10 Store. The caveat here is that the game’s download size is close to 110GB, which is to be frank astronomical. Some may say that it is worth it, since the visuals play a key part in the atmosphere here. Practically every location feels distinct due to the care taken in the graphical design.
Then there is the character interaction, which happens to be quite entertaining. James, Del and Kait will quip and talk to one another throughout. This helps you learn more about them, while avoiding distracting you from the gameplay, and will sometimes make you laugh with some of the funnier interactions. The characters themselves are also very stoic and you can see that they are used to the kind of dangers they are in. However, the emotional impact of some scenes can be dimished, if the characters seem to immediately be fine right after some of the big moments happen.
Looking at the atmosphere overall we can say that we oftentimes just stopped playing to take in the scenery a bit. The ambient background soundtrack also emphasized each situation well. This really shows the care and attention to detail that has been put in by the developers to make this game truly shine.
“Gears of War” has been known for being one of the definitive cover shooter experiences. This being our first “Gears of War” title we played, some things greatly stood out to us. First point is the general gameplay. The more we played it the clearer it became what we needed to do. The game gives you a squad of multiple people for a reason, since your best bet is always to play strategically. You will rely on flanking and moving in certain ways to win your current battle. Taking aggro and letting your teammates kill the enemies is oftentimes necessary to progress.
You are also forced to adapt your strategy at some points, since the enemies that appear will have different abilities that will make you do so. Some low health enemies will straight up charge you, but will do so in great numbers. Other enemies are smarter, use cover and will try to outplay you at your own game. There are even more types of enemies and the different weapons they use also change up how they play.
Situations will occur where a multitude of different enemies will be thrown at you at once and figuring out how to best approach them is a great experience. Unfortunately a good variety in enemies only comes a bit later in the game. Around the first half of it, you will oftentimes only fight one type of enemy at a time for an extended period and then you’ll do the same just with a different type of enemy. While this could be interpreted as the game trying to teach you how to play and giving you enough time to learn how to deal with each enemy, we believe this could have been paced out a little bit better.
The weapon arsenal itself is also something we greatly appreciated. Nearly every single gun feels different and has a unique play style. For example, there is a shotgun that fires twice, once when you press the button down and another time when you let go of it. There are many more examples of weaponry, many more interesting than this shotgun. The important part is that there are a lot of different playstyles available, which add to the experience. There are however a few downsides to it. Many of the more exciting weapons have a very limited ammo capacity. So picking one of them up will take up one of your two weapon slots, which will diminish its usability since that weapon slot could have been used by a weapon with more abundant ammo. We found it was best to keep one weapon slot for your favourite weapon and use the other to cycle though the fun weapons you find lying around.
Let’s compare the value of Gears of War 4 to the one of Doom, since they seem to have some resemblence to one another. We previously valued Doom at $28 and compared to “Gears of War 4” it slightly takes the crown in terms of its gameplay. Using Data from “How Long to Beat” Doom has a playtime of 11.5h and once again slightly edges out “Gears of War 4” with a playtime of around 9h. However, the storytelling and the graphics are a bit more engaging in Gears of War 4. We would say that the quality of the atmosphere is comparable between the two games and here comes the conclusion in terms of value. Taking all these factors into consideration and also noting that there is a Coop mode available in Gears of War 4, we give the game the same value as Doom, therefore $28. Please take note that we only evaluated the value of the singleplayer in this review.
The graphics and the variety in weapons and levels can make this game worth a playthrough, especially if you have played previous entries in the franchise. However, the short length of the game makes it hard to build up a big story and the game could have mixed up the type of enemies in the game better sometimes. Nevertheless the game was an interesting and somewhat definitive experience that showed off the power of Triple-A games well. Many awesome visuals, scenes and interactions make this game a worthwhile experience. This results in us giving the game a score of 80.
(out of 100)
“Gears of War 4” is one of the best cover shooter experiences around and provides an interesting story with gorgeous visuals. The elements of this game really show off the strength of Triple-A titles.
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