It's been a few years but we finally have a brand new Gears of War game from The Coalition and it's one heck of a good time.
Admittedly, I was never a Gears of War fanatic but I enjoy the series a great deal. That being said, after completing Gears 5's campaign and experimenting with its multiplayer component, that has changed as I now can't wait to play the next game in the franchise. In other words, it's made a fan out of me. For starters, it turns everything up to 11 and by the end of the campaign; I couldn't believe the adventure that I've just been on. The amount of gameplay variety, a fantastic cast of characters, and a relentless army of enemy forces make almost every minute an entertaining ride. Of course, it's not a perfect game but what's here is definitely the best that the Gears of War series has to offer so far in its over 12 year legacy. With all of that out of the way, let's gear up and get to the nitty gritty details.
Gears 5's campaign is broken into 4 distinct acts. Without spoiling much of the plot, Act 1 is basically an introduction to the new threats that the world faces while you play as JD. From then on, you fill the more than capable boots of Kait and Act 2 has her and Del uncover some mysteries by exploring a vast frozen land in the hopes of discovering a secret research laboratory. Act 3 has you control Kait and Delta Squad members within a huge wasteland as they try and assemble a rocket to launch a satellite for the Hammer of Dawn, a weapon that can turn the tide of battle against the Swarm. Finally, Act 4 is an all-out battle that'll have you on the edge of your seat.
I honestly found it hard to put Gears 5 down after I started playing through its campaign because it's paced so well and features so much variety that you'll want to constantly see what's going to happen next. What holds it all together is the incredible cast of characters that are superbly acted and they may have the odd cheesy line or joke yet these moments of levity contrast perfectly with the otherwise dramatic plot. Overall, Gears 5 looks and sounds amazing and the characters are engaging enough to keep you entertained.
When it comes to variety, I was blown away by how much you do throughout Gears 5. One of the coolest new enemies are leeches that tear people apart and can override the robotic soldiers DeeBees in order to control them. This results in segments that reward you for acting stealthily as the infected DeeBees can be killed instantly by ripping out their batteries from behind. Seeing a room filled with these robots scattered around everywhere is intimidating to say the least but once you systematically decommission them one by one, it feels awesome. Of course, the open world areas within Act 2 and 3 are fantastic to explore, especially while windsurfing on your skiff and taking on optional side-missions. Oh, and actually controlling Hammer of Dawn lasers to wipe out giant foes is simply amazing.
With all of that in mind, the core gameplay remains solid with satisfying squad-based cover 'n' shoot action. The weapons in Gears of War always reminded me of a less cartoonish Ratchet & Clank and there are plenty of weapons here that made me feel that way, too. Aiming a laser only to see a half dozen rockets launch when you release them that then home in on a single target is nothing short of cool.
As you fight, a robot drone named Jack will assist you by electrocuting enemies, healing you, and performing an array of abilities. You'll discover loads of hidden components as you play the campaign that you can use to upgrade Jack's passive, assault, and support abilities. It's rewarding stuff to watch the little fellow grow and his skills are just awesome such as the ability to hijack certain enemies, deploy a shield, and temporarily turn you invisible. There are 90 additional collectibles to be found as well that consist of various trinkets and documents so trying to find all of those and the components can add a lot of replay value to the campaign.
Although the campaign is incredible and Act 4 is one of the most action-packed thrill-rides that I've ever been on, it does have some annoying parts. The most irritating of which is when you have no idea what to do in order to progress. I'm sure a lot of gamers can whip through the campaign yet there were at least a handful of times when I was just wandering around aimlessly. For example, when you're told to find a way into a building or you have to meet some character somewhere and aren't given a waypoint marker, you may end up heading in the entirely opposite direction. On top of this, I died about a dozen times throughout from instant death traps without even knowing what hit me. Once, I didn't realise that I had to stand in a certain spot in order to not perish. I wish these instant death traps had clearer warnings. After all, whenever you bite the dust in a game, it should always feel like it was entirely your fault.
When you're done with the campaign, Gears 5 offers a lot of fun to be had via online multiplayer. First, there are Versus matches that can take place within a dozen maps and have 9 basic rule variations such as Arms Race, King of the Hill, Warzone, and Dodgeball. Upon choosing the basics, there are a ton of advanced options to configure as well. Next, the awesome co-op Horde Mode returns and you can enjoy it with up to 5 players. Unleashing character-specific ultimate abilities while communicating with your teammates in order to survive as long as possible is a ton of fun. Finally, Escape Mode is a kind of roguelike 3 player co-op experience with RPG elements that tasks you with escaping Swarm hives and you can even create your own hive maps. How cool is that?
Gears 5 is the best Gears of War game so far as it features one thrilling campaign and plenty of exciting online multiplayer modes. In fact, it's so much fun that I highly recommend playing it if you're not already a Gears fan so you can see what the series is capable of.
- + Top-notch cover 'n' shoot gameplay that's more exciting than ever
- + Action-packed and varied campaign
- + Highly enjoyable multiplayer modes
- - Some annoying campaign parts, especially when you don't know what to do
- - Instant deaths can come out of nowhere