Gears 5 (2019)

Gears of War has been one of those series that I’ve always had a good time with, yet not really caring deeply about at all. I find myself putting it in the category of Summer Blockbuster more than anything super serious. There are times and places for balls to the wall crazy spectacle type of games, and the Gears series does it well with the newest game in their second trilogy.

The Gears lore was never something I really cared about, even though it seems like the devs really want me to. I’ve never gotten into it, nor do I remember anyone’s name other than the original Gears crew. The 4th game in the series started its new trilogy, what I like to call the Gears Babies… because that’s who they are, the younger, more attitude and feeling driven offspring of the original Gears crew and they are mostly forgettable. I remember a solid two things from that fourth game. Marcus was in his home and his son came to get him and then the home blows up…. And that the girl found out her grandma was evil at the end with a cliffhanger ending.

Gears 5 starts up a bit after the fourth (as far as I could tell) and you set out to figure out more stuff… I guess. The story really doesn’t seem very well put together at the beginning. It felt like it just kinda picked up in the everyday life without really explaining anything and just started going. All the while, taking quite a bit to actually get going. It was a bit surprising that this game had such a slow start. I expected it to hit the ground running and allow me to dive head first into some chainsaw tolting gore immediately.

I actually found myself to struggle through the first two acts quite a bit, I just wasn’t invested at all. The world, as beautiful as it is, was just so empty, especially with it being opened up. Having a beautiful world is pointless if there isn’t anything making it feel lived in and interesting. There are two large land masses you play in, one an Ice world, and the other a really cool looking red sand land mass. The level designs are insanely intricate as you come across many areas that have been abandoned and taken over by nature and time. It gives it a very Chernobyl type of feeling to it all. A bit creepy, a bit intriguing, and the decayed aspect really does just look absolutely stunning.

In these large worlds full of nothing, there is an occasional “outpost” that you can stumble upon and take on a group of enemies to clear it out and gain some upgrade modules that can be tacked onto your robot companion Jack. The abilities that Jack has and gets installed throughout the campaign are useful in very specific circumstances, that the story funnels you to, but other than these two or three times, I didn’t use them at all… They just seemed utterly pointless and more of a waste of my time.

The difficulty of the game wasn’t too hard, but I did find myself having to retry a boss or two a good six or seven times  on a couple occasions. Even with the few encounters where I died from a lack of ammo or got stuck in a particular section for a few minutes due to me not seeing the icon that I had to direct my robot buddy to, I did actually really enjoy my time with Gears 5. It’s a solid, well put together game, that really does have a great foundation, and is something that is rightfully looked at as a marquee title release for Xbox.

If anything, the game suffers from it trying to be single and multiplayer games in one package. I’ve always been baffled by the inclusion of Multiplayer in Gears since the first game. I never really thought of every wanting to play a deathmatch session in Gears, yet even with the first game, it’s apparently a significant part of the game. When Horde Mode was included into the second title, I really saw the potential for Multiplayer to shift into a more team/co-op experience.

Even though Horde Mode did invent the “Horde Mode” and there was a time where every game wanted to include a similar mode in Multiplayer, it still isn’t the main multiplayer mode. And with Gears 5 it allowed some truly weird and odd choices for corporate synergy and product placement. At launch there was a “Terminator” Sarah Conner character, and then the next week it added Dave Bautista… Yup, good ol’ Drax the Destroyer ...except not Drax, but just the actor playing him… for no reason that I can see at all. It seems weird and doesn’t make any sense.

Like I said. I liked Gears 5 for what it was. It’s world, as beautiful as it was, was so barren and empty, not just by not having enemies or NPCs in most areas, but it was just wasteful. There was a lot of areas that I wanted to spend more time in, but with Gears, the player moves just too slow for me to hang out and look at everything, because it just isn’t THAT interesting. Even with the boring open world and the opening hours of the game feeling more like a chore., the game does come into it’s own in Act III. From there on out, it really is just set piece moment after set piece moment. Proving that the Gears series still has what it takes to make a solid 3rd person cover shooter that can make your job drop, when it wants to.