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Game review: Gears 5 features a lot of fun action

12 Sep 2019
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The first Gears of War video game from 2006 was ahead of its time. The game pretty much popularised the third person cover shooter genre and it was one of the best received Xbox 360 games of all time. The series became so popular that it spawned two more sequels as well as a prequel game all released on the Xbox 360 console.

By the time the Xbox One came out, the series started to change just a little bit. Developer Epic Games moved on from the franchise with it now in the hands of a new studio formed called The Coalition. This resulted in the release of Gears of War 4 releasing for the Xbox One console back in 2016.

Gears of War 4 featured new characters as well as some familiar faces, but the series started to stagnate by then. Gears of War 4 was a fun game, although it didn’t do anything to make it stand out from all of the other games that were released for the Xbox 360 many years prior. Aside from having better graphics, the gameplay started to feel too familiar to make it stand out anymore.

Well, The Coalition must have listened to the critics because Gears 5 is here for Xbox One and PC and It feels like a step in the right direction. This is all thanks to some welcome new additions to the gameplay that makes this iteration of the series feel different for the first time in many years. That being said, series veterans shouldn’t feel too alienated because the core gameplay is still as fun as ever.

One of the biggest changes that people will instantly notice is how beautiful the graphics are in Gears 5. Gears of War 4 looked good back in 2016, although I only played that game on a 1080p TV and the original Xbox One console. Gears 5 on the other hand looks stunning on the Xbox One X and my newer 4KTV.

The game is 4K and runs at a smooth 60fps. Not to mention the levels looks bright and diverse compared to the darker aesthetic utilised in the other games in the series. The levels are also much bigger too allowing for you to explore the areas in a new way.

Gears 5 is not a 100% open world video game, but the levels are larger than the linear design of the previous games. You are free to explore new areas to do side quests and the characters can ride on a cool new vehicle called ‘The Skiff’.

Even though I enjoyed exploring the larger areas and levels, the semi-open world design of the game isn’t perfect. Sadly, the game only features vague waypoints and an unhelpful map so there were many times I got lost. This didn’t happen all of the time, but it drags the campaign down not knowing where you need to go to next.

In terms of core gameplay, Gears 5 does not stray too far away from its winning formula but it adds some new features to the table to diversify its combat. One of the biggest new additions is a robot partner named ‘Jack’ that can be controlled by either the A.I. or a human player.

Jack is really helpful during combat because he has a lot of cool new abilities that the main characters cannot do. For example, he can make the characters invisible or invulnerable depending on the ability you choose. He can also electrocute enemies who might be hiding under cover all the time allowing you to get the final kill.

Jack can also be used to open new areas and even grab guns and ammo off of dead enemies. He is by far my favourite new partner in the game, but he’s better off being controlled by the A.I. He’s not really effective in combat if you choose to play as him…

The campaign also has a decent story that picks up straight after the shocking revelations in Gears of War 4. The main character in Gears 5 is Kait Diaz and the game explores more about her family’s history and how she’s related to the Locust. Fan favourites like Marcus Fenix, Cole and Baird are all in the game as well, although they’re all supporting roles.

The story campaign is arguably the best of the series and it’s the longest of the franchise too. Depending on the difficulty you play on and if you do any side-quests, you can expect to finish the campaign in around 10 to 12 hours. Best of all, you don’t have to play the campaign alone because both online and offline co-op has been added!

Another huge part of Gears 5 are the multiple multiplayer modes that you can dive into. There’s Versus and Horde modes as well as something new called Escape. The Versus mode is self explanatory as you play the usual Deathmatches as well as Dodgeball, Arms Race and King of the Hill just to name a few.

Horde mode is back and it’s as challenging as ever. Here you need to outlast 50 waves of enemies and you earn more weapons and supplies as you progress. I have to admit this mode can get a little repetitive for my taste, but it can be enjoyable if you manage to pair up with other more skilled players.

The newest thing in Gears 5 is a mode called Escape. Here you have to work together with your teammates to escape the Swarm Hive. It’s also challenging, but it’s not as fun as the other multiplayer modes. That being said, users can create their own maps so your enjoyment lies on the levels you choose to play on.

Gears 5 is one of the best Microsoft exclusives and is also one of the best games of 2019. It features a very enjoyable and lengthy campaign and several multiplayer modes that are fun. It’s also a bargain since you can play the game fully if you subscribe to Game Pass on both Xbox One and PC.

Verdict: 9.0/10