Gears Of War 4 GAME REVIEW
Set 25 years after the events of the previous games, Gears Of War 4 is a bold new chapter for the “meatheads and chest-high walls” shooter series. The youthful new heroes – Marcus Fenix’s son JD Fenix, Del and Kat – find themselves on the receiving end of the revitalised, mechanised COG forces, before another, familiar, threat rears its ugly head.
Over the course of roughly eight or so hours, the campaign is bombastic and an occasional joy, but blighted with some major disappointments. The personalities of the new heroes are pathetically underdeveloped, and halfway through the story the game literally rebrands the Locust as the Swarm, at which point any danger of it offering any new experiences ceases. There are brief moments of greatness in the campaign, amazing new weapons like the stupidly deadly Overkill shotgun, but Gears 4’s campaign is thoroughly unsatisfying and far too “safe”. Even dazzling new weather effects and a couple of killer vehicle sequences aren’t enough to elevate it.
Multiplayer and Horde is where Gears Of War 4 shines – although around the time of the game’s launch, servers were running so poorly we had to delay this review. When up to snuff, competitive play is enlivened by the new weaponry, the ability to grab enemies across cover, and new modes like the inventive, respawn tug of war Dodgeball, Arms Race and Escalation.
Horde 3.0 is the best the wave-based mode has ever been, with the Fabricator now determining a base of operations, enemies dropping energy currency that has to be collected, and the addition of new enemy types making for more varied and enjoyable co-operative chaos.
Arguably, the only misstep in multiplayer is the aggressive new card system, which promises a greater variety in skins and a progressive and upgradeable system of buffs, but it’s insultingly balanced against customers who don’t want to be churning through costly micro-transactions. At least in the older games you knew what you were buying when you paid for skin packs: this time it’s all blind bag nonsense, and if you get a useless duplicate, you get next to nothing to show for it.
The Coalition has crafted a decent Gears game in Gears of War 4. With a greater production value than ever before, solid cover-shooting action and great co-op play, it’s enjoyable but lacking the ambition and spark needed to be anything more than just a slick and high budget imitation. If this team is to truly become the new Gears team in people’s eyes, it’s going to need to be ambitious and inventive next time around. For now though, Gears 4 solid fun, and easily more enjoyable than Gears of War Judgment.
Review by Martin Wharmby