Gears of War (2006) by Epic Games

There is a lot to say about Gears of War.  At this point it has become a pillar of the Xbox games library.  Microsoft has since purchased the rights to the franchise, created a new studio to handle all future games, and just announced three new games coming next year.  Gears of War was built with the Xbox 360 in mind, and I have already discussed how the online capabilities of this generation of consoles really impacted the way we played games.  Now we could play online with anyone, anywhere, and with much better connectivity and competition.  Xbox 360 introduced the TrueSkill ranking system that most of it’s online games used during this time.  Gears of War was a champion for these technologies and showed how it could work in a real world setting.  Because of this, Gears of War ended up taking up most of my free time.

The Gears of War franchise has always been a day one purchase for me.  I remember going out to the local Walmart for the release of Gears of War Judgment and buying it on the first day of release.  I also purchased the season’s pass for that game, which promised double experience for the multiplayer modes.  But 2006 was a simpler time and Gears of War was my initiation into cooperative and competitive gaming.  While Halo 2 represented the ability to play with friends in a customizable setting with no rules, Gears of War represented the race to be the best competitive player.  I made a lot of like minded friends through Gears of War.  We are chasing the dream to get better at the game.

The game even included an achievement titled “Seriously…” which tasked the player with accumulating 10,000 kills in the online multiplayer mode.  At this point in the series the game modes were more like Counter-Strike and if you died you would not respawn until the next round.  I finished most games with about 5 kills and I was lucky if I got anymore.  I did not obtain that specific achievement.

During my quest to become the greatest Gears of War player I also attempted to beat the game on the maximum difficulty setting.  Insane mode is designed to test the limits of gameplay, enemies have more health, are more accurate, and the player has less health.  You can only unlock Insane difficulty after playing through the game once.  Thankfully, this game also introduced online cooperative play.  I eventually beat the entire game on Insane mode with a friend online.  What a time to be alive.

I enjoyed the slower pace of the Gears of War environments.  At it’s core the game is a cover shooter.  You are encouraged to play a game of cat and mouse with the enemy as you use the many opportunities for cover to remain hidden.  The guns are a lot of fun throughout the universe and even include a gun with a chainsaw on the end of it.  No game has replicated that invention yet.  To top it all off, the reload mechanic in this game is incredible.  You reload using the shoulder button and if you hit the button a second time with perfect timing you can obtain a perfect reload.  They called this system active reload and because you are reloading your guns constantly it adds a fun twist to the cover shooter that keeps you engaged during the firefights.

Later Gears games would introduce Horde mode which I have not played with any regularity, but I am certain that I would love to delve into it.  I have stopped playing as many competitive games in the last few years, but when I jumped back into Gears of War 4 I felt that same rush of excitement that the first game had.  The other day, Brian, Ian, Chase, and I talked about playing through all of the campaigns for the franchise as we prepare for the next installment of Gears.  I am really looking forward to getting back into the franchise.

Tomorrow we will look at Rock Band and the life changing effect it had on my music career.

Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks

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