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Friday, December 5, 2008

Why Gears of War is the best shooter game on the market!

The Gears of War saga has something that is unlike most first-or-third-person shooter games. In addition to the best field tactics - the ability to take cover, provide covering fire, use fallen enemies as shields, etc - the game is truly unique. Despite the four main characters (Marcus, Dom, Cole, and Baird) being incredibly macho males, and there not being a female COG solider in sight (or even a female in sight - no, Anya's "voice" does not count, nor does her one brief appearance in both games, and unfortunately Maria doesn't count either), Gears does not treat the war that they are fighting as being purely "fun" or "challenging". While there are those light-hearted moments ("let's go kill some bugs"), there is also a prevailing sense of desperation. They aren't fighting for kicks (although you might be). They are fighting for their very survival (and sometimes, for revenge). Essentially, what the Gears of War universe has that most other shooter games are lacking, is humanity. COG soldiers - men that you, through Marcus or Dom, fight with - die (both Carmines, Tai, etc). Men, COG soldiers and civilians, are captured, enslaved, and tortured. Entire cities are sunk. And Marcus and Dom themselves both suffer personal losses - in the original Gears, Marcus' entire family has been killed and he has be wrongly kept in prison for years for 'treason'; in Gears 2, Dom is searching for his wife, Maria, and when he finall finds her, she has been tortured to the point that she doesn't even recognize her, and so he kills her (although there is a sliiiight story line loophole with Maria supposedly being released from the hospital a 'few days ago' and becoming THAT emancipated THAT quickly...I mean, seriously? :P She looked like a holocaust survivor!).

For me, this is what makes Gears of War stand out from other first-or-third-person shooters. In Halo, there is little emotional connection to the game. Master Chief is, essentially, pretty much detached from the battle, and the light-colored world does not lend any gravity to the fight. (This is not to say that I did not enjoy Halo - I did, but preferred the online play rather than the 'story' play).

All that said, all the game is really lacking, in my opinion, is a female soldier playable character. I mean, I would think if the human race was as desperate as the game depicts that the military would have no problem conscripting girls. What gives, Epic?

Still, the Gears of War saga is easily the best first/third-person shooter game there is, and definitely one of, if not THE, best games available for XBox 360. I am eagerly awaiting the third title (and the movie).

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