Gears of War exploded onto the Xbox 360 ten years ago and it started one of the best third person franchises in history. Gears of War 4 continues the great legacy and ensures there’s a great future ahead.
Epic Games was the original developer for the Gears of War series, until Microsoft came along and bought the IP. Microsoft’s own The Coalition was born and the developer has done a great job with Gears of War 4, although some might say the changes are too small.
The best way I can describe Gears of War 4 is that it’s similar to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Both introduce us to new characters and pay homage to the older series. However, some people will notice that there are a lot of similarities too.
For Gears 4, veterans of the series will notice that virtually nothing has been altered in terms of gameplay. The controls are exactly the same and the enemies are similar too. I won’t spoil who the enemy is, but you will get a since of déjà vu playing this game.
That’s not to say that the gameplay is bad because the controls for Gears of War has been perfect to start off with. It was the franchise that pioneered third-person shooters and many other games try and mimic its style to this day.
The thing I like most about the fourth game is that the gameplay is refined. It might be similar as I aforementioned, but the shooting mechanics and cover system is perfect. The game never dips in framerate when a lot of enemies are on the screen and it also never gets boring either. The campaign has a lot of action and there are not many slow parts to drag it down.
To an extent though, some people may think the gameplay can get a little repetitive at times. There are sections in the campaign that mimics the Horde mode where you have to take out waves and waves of enemies defending your position. These sections can get long and hectic, but you will scream in joy once you complete them.
Visually, Gears of War 4 is arguably the prettiest looking game in the entire series. The graphics of the series has always been impressive, however the previous games were set in dark and depressing locations most of the time.
In the fourth game, there are some levels where there is more vegetation and the sun is shining down. I would say Act 1 and Act 5 are the best looking levels in the campaign. Not to mention the power of the Xbox One console makes the in-game cutscenes look prettier than ever before too.
Speaking of cutscenes, the story is more emotional and character driven compared to the older games in the series. I don’t want to talk too much about the story to avoid spoiling it for you, but it’s interesting and you will want to play until the end to see how it finishes.
The new trio of J.D. Fenix (Marcus Fenix’s son), Delmont "Del" Walker and Kait Diaz are all likeable. J.D. is charismatic and reminds me of Nathan Drake and Chris Pratt in a lot of ways. Kait is strong and feisty while Del is humorous as the comic relief. There are also things you should look out for if you played the older games and I’ll leave it at that.
The last thing I want to say about the campaign is that it’s playable entirely via split-screen co-op. It’s great that I was able to play the game with my brother as this feature is sorely missing in most modern video games. The biggest culprit being last year's release of Halo 5: Guardians...
As fun as the campaign is, the multiplayer mode is equally as enjoyable. The Horde mode returns and is fun as ever. Playing with people online killing waves and waves of enemies is satisfying and it promotes a lot of teamwork.
In Horde mode, you are able to build things to help you out such as conjuring up turrets or laying down spikes and more. To make things more interesting, the enemies get harder the longer you survive. This could mean their health increases or that their accuracy improves.
Aside from Horde mode, you can also play in Versus where you can experience the usual things like Team Deathmatch and other competitive disciplines. Again, nothing has really changed in these modes, although it’s still fun to play. You can also add A.I. bots in some playlists to get a bit of practise.
Overall, Gears of War 4 is a solid package with lots of great content and gameplay that will satisfy both fans and newcomers. It may not add many new things to the plate, but it doesn’t have to since the series has always been great to start off with.