Published on October 12th, 2016 | by James Wright
Gears of War 4 Review
Summary: Gears of War 4 once again proves why this franchise is so damn good!
The Gears are back! Set 25 years after the previous game, The Coalition (the developers of the game) return gamers back to this turbulent and broken universe that saw mankind finally get the upper hand over the nefarious Locust ‘plague’. Unfortunately over time, another threat has arisen that sees two generations from the Fenix family brought together to stop this new menace in this sci-fi action-packed third person shooter. The game is also Xbox Play Anywhere compatible which means you can play this title on both the Xbox One and a Windows 10 PC with just one purchase.
The story driven campaign mode (which supports co-op) of Gears of War 4 starts in the past as the player controls an unknown Gear that with the help of his team and key members of the Gears of War franchise help retell the struggles and victories between the humans and the deadly alien Locust. These short missions not only serve as a tutorial but supports players back into the gaming mechanics which highlights key moments from the ‘history’ of this memorable franchise. In terms of co-op, Gears of War 4 offers local split screen (yes) and the ability to host an online game for a friend or a public game.
The last flashback is when the COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) unleash their last resort at ending the war between the Locust and the humans which is situated on the planet of Sera. It is here where they unleash the Imulsion Countermeasure which literally decimates their enemy and as a result, almost pushed humanity back into the dark ages which forced them to look at new ways to survive. So in this brave new world, humanity attempts to rebuild without the dangers of the Locust.
However the biggest setback for those who survived on Sera is that this weapon caused the planet to be ravaged by windflares which are powerful storms that destroys anything in their path. To help counter these storms, COG created giant moveable walls around their major cities in order to protect their citizens but some have rejected their laws and live outside these boundaries as outlaws which does cause some interesting conflicts. Cue the Fenix family!
In the present, gamers control James ‘J.D.’ Fenix, the son of Gears veteran Marcus Fenix who is living the simple life after the war but uncovers another threat that is very close to home. In order to get help, he seeks his father who has been living in solitude after the death of his wife and needless to say, he falls right back into his role as a Gear. This next-generation of the Fenix family is quite an emotional one and without spoiling the story, there’s a great moment between J.D. and Marcus which really tore at your heartstrings. What I like about the story are the ‘wtf’ moments as the developers throw some great twists and turns at the player which at times left me guessing how it will all play out.
However after a few minutes of play, I must admit that Gears of War 4 brought a big smile to my face because it was like coming home again and it’s great that the old mechanics are still used, especially the clever cover system. Then as I played, I thought not much has changed, however the developers have added some new tweaks to the mechanics such as different executions and the ability to pull enemies from cover. Sure, it’s still the same old Gears but it’s really nice being back. Furthermore, it’s quite a graphical impressive game and although it looks open-world, the developers carefully ensure that you can only follow a handful of paths which is a little unfortunate in this modern world of gaming, Given that, it’s almost as if the game is on rails at times but one that is still very entertaining.
Initially enemies in the game are COG robots that come in all different shapes and sizes, each with their own strategies that require you to change your gameplay strategy. Some are just your standard robot soldiers, whereas others include flying guardians with shields to snipers and powerful Kestral which are basically deadly helicopters. There are even Condors or drop ships that add more enemies into the fray. One interesting enemy are these rollers which basically roll to your direction and then explode. One defence against them is to push the B button in order to kick them away which can cause damage to other enemies as well.
Of course, a Gears game would not be a Gears game without the Locust that are the Swarm. Although the Locust are creating their own army again, they are also kidnapping humans to help in the process which is quite a scary scenario for your in-game characters because one of the major characters does get taken. Enemies for the Locust include ‘juvies’ which are juvenile attackers that are weak but when swarmed together, can sometimes be a challenge to defeat. Others include pincers, drones, scions, snatchers (these guys eat you) and some REALLY big bosses and needless to say, there’s plenty of enemies to keep you quite busy. Ammunition can be scarce but thankfully before major battles, the game does help by giving you some items to stock up on.
In terms of weaponry, many of the old favourites return such as the Lancer or the Frag Grenade, including new ones such as the deadly Buzzkill which fires deadly blades at your enemies in order to slice them to smithereens. Add in other machine guns, shotguns and even this cool railgun which helps spice up your battles. You can even build your items via a fabricator to add to the battlefield like turret drones to other automated defences which once again adds to the overall strategy of the title.
The loader returns for Gears of War 4 which not only allows you to move objects in your way but you can run through your enemies and also squash them as well. However the highlight of the vehicles is the gigantic Pacific Rim type Mech which is massive and there’s even this memorable almost Godzilla type battle at the end of the game. The Mech even has the ability to call in airstrikes which is needed when you go against some of the more powerful Locusts. There’s also a cool motorbike scene with flying COG vehicles which is pretty damn impressive so the developers keep things quite unpredictable and fresh.
Apart from single-player, Gears of War 4 has some great multiplayer components that includes the really fun horde mode with up to 50 levels, including bosses to some very entertaining versus modes. Classes in multiplayer include soldier, engineer, heavy, sniper and scout with each performing a different yet important function. There is also this ‘card game’ that allows for micro transactions in order to give your characters more perks. Maps are also quite diverse an thankfully not everything is doom and gloom as there’s some really great outdoor maps. All in all, both the single-player and multiplayer aspects of this game really deliver!
Graphically, Gears of War 4 looks quite spectacular on the Xbox One and really highlights the power of the Unreal engine which creates this true gaming blockbuster. Characters are extremely detailed, backgrounds look stunning and the special effects and lighting just add to the overall immersion experience. The game has some great weather effects (some that are to die for), especially those powerful storms called windflares that literally tear the environment apart which even pushes you back from its ferocity. Furthermore, the environmental damage looks quite stunning and I’m guessing that’s because of the hardware platform as you can really see the difference between this console and the last. In-game cinemas flawlessly integrate with the main gameplay as well. The voice acting of Gears of War 4 is brilliant and it’s great hearing those old and new voices. Sound effects are great as is the musical score and all those chaotic sounds of combat. Then you have the indistinguishable Gears of War bell that rings when your current threat is over.
Gears of Wars is back and new developers The Coalition not only pay homage to what came before but enhance the experience. Sure, the mechanics are almost identical to the previous games but with new executions, vehicles, defense building plus new enemies/weapons and you have everything you need for a great Gears of War 4 experience!
- New Story, Heroes and a Nightmare Reborn: The first chapter of an all-new “Gears” saga thrusts players into an epic and perilous journey through the wilds of Sera. Fight as JD Fenix – son of the legendary hero Marcus Fenix – as he embarks on a desperate mission with his friends Kait and Del to find their missing loved ones and confront a fearsome new threat.
- Never Fight Alone: Rev up your Lancer and fight your way through the Campaign with a friend over Xbox Live or via local split screen co-op, with the option to play as JD, Kait or Del. Cross Play lets Xbox One and Windows 10 gamers play together in cooperative modes like Campaign, Horde and Co-Op Versus.
- Shared Progression and Achievements with Xbox Play Anywhere across Xbox One and Windows 10: Cloud saves enable you to switch seamlessly between both versions of game, giving you the freedom to play where you choose. Both versions are included with a single purchase.
- Fight through a Dynamic and Deadly Environment: Brace yourself against ferocious windflares that blow away cover, bend your shots and drastically alter the battlefield, forcing you to employ new tactics. As the windflare intensity increases, each enemy confrontation evolves into a brutal fight for survival in this tale of Man vs. Monster.
- New Arsenal of Weapons and Combat Tactics: Pummel your enemies from cover with new close-cover combat moves like yank, vault kick and a bloody new combat-knife execution. Make use of dangerous new weapons, like the Buzzkill and Dropshot, to shoot around and over cover, raining destruction from all angles.
- The Best “Gears” Multiplayer Experience Yet: Whether you enjoy powering through the co-op Campaign, fending for survival in Horde mode or testing your skills in frenetic Versus Multiplayer matches running in 60 FPS on dedicated servers, “Gears of War 4” is the ultimate game to play with friends.
- Explosive Versus Multiplayer Action: Compete in intense multiplayer gametypes that reward social, competitive and professional players alike, including three new modes: Dodgeball, Arms Race and the premier new competitive “Gears” multiplayer mode, Escalation. Track your progress with the new visible ranking system that drives online matchmaking and lets you stand out for your abilities.
- The Next Generation of Horde: Team up with up to four other players and weather the onslaught using class-based skills and dynamic fortifications. For the first time, you can build and deploy defensive weapons and fortifications anywhere on the map.
- Play with Friends Against AI Foes: Fine-tune your skills in Co-Op Versus, where your match-made team of five squares off against increasingly punishing AI teams.
- The Complete “Gears of War” Collection: For a limited time, “Gears of War 4” (both digital and retail versions) will include the entire Xbox 360 “Gears of War” collection. Play through the original “Gears of War” trilogy and “Gears of War: Judgment” on Xbox One via backwards compatibility, amounting to over 50 hours of “Gears of War” gameplay.
Primary Format – Games – Xbox One
Game Genre – Shooter
Rating – R18+
Consumer Advice – Mild fantasy violence and sexual references, online interactivity
Game Developer – The Coalition
Game Publisher – Microsoft Game Studios