The single-player game will keep most gamers entertained for hours upon hours; multiplayer, though, is the best part. There is a few different game modes to be played over Xbox Live, system link (LAN) or split screen. The first mode is co-operative play with a partner assuming the role of Marcus’ friend, Dominic Santiago. Throughout the game in co-op there will be times when the players will take different routes to complete an objective. In this scenario Marcus will choose his one and Dom will take the other.
If either Dom or Marcus becomes incapacitated, the game ends and you are reverted to the last checkpoint. A co-op game is super-simple to set up: if you are playing and you see a friend sign in to Xbox Live, just press your guide button and invite him. He will automatically take control of Dom and the game doesn’t need to be restarted.
The other game modes are Warzone, Assassination, and Execution. All modes are team based, COG versus Locust, and played over a certain number of rounds as the host sees fit. Members of both teams spawn with a Lancer assault rifle (including chainsaw bayonet), a Gnasher shotgun, the Snub pistol, and one smoke grenade. Throughout the different maps there can be any number of power weapons to be found.
How the game modes differ is subtle, but makes for interesting play. Warzone is the base variant, last team standing wins can be either a whole team or one player left and any player can use any weapon. Assassination has a few subtle differences, in that both teams have a leader, Colonel Hoffman for the COGs and General Raam for the Locust. But the game is won by killing the opposition leader. There is one more subtle difference with this game mode in that initially only the leader can pick up power weapons. But he can drop then after that, and anybody on his team can pick them up.
The last mode, Execution, is similar to Warzone, but the kill has to be up close and personal - a melee, or curb stomp for example. One other small difference is that if you end up in the ‘bleed out’ position in Execution, by repeatedly tapping A you can revive yourself.
As for the power weapons, there are about half a dozen or so to find, the commonest being the Longshot sniper rifle. The name says it all as with the Boomer rocket launcher. There are two others that require a small amount of explanation: the Hammer of Dawn, and the torque bow. The Hammer of Dawn is an orbital weapon that requires a ground level site. First you find a target (it’s orbital, so can’t be used on an inside target), prime the sight with the left trigger, pull the right trigger to focus and then fire. The effect is devastating; the enemy will be torn apart.
When was the last time you fired a bow and arrow in a video game? Well that is exactly what the torque bow is. Again prime the sight, and then you can fire a small explosive dart by squeezing the right trigger. The longer you hold it, the more likely the dart is to stick into your enemy if it contacts. Soon after the dart explodes, if it’s lodged in your enemy, he will explode with it.
One of the criticisms we have seen (from people that haven’t played the game) is that eight players isn't enough for multiplayer. This is so untrue. Due to the simple fact there are no respawns in the game, if the maps were big enough to handle 24 players as people seem to think the game needs, it would get very boring very quickly to all those players that got taken out relatively early in the game. With this in mind, the eight-player limit is perfect.
After spending two weeks playing Gears of War we still have to admire how awesome the graphics look. Now for the not so good bit; thankfully it is so minor it is barely worth the mention. The button used to both crouch and run is A. When running to get a power weapon in multi-player, if you don’t get you line of travel through obstacles just right, yoiu will inadvertently end up crouching behind a small wall only to jump from one to another before getting back on track, subsequently missing out on said power weapons.
For all of those players that have been hankering for the best third-person shooter on the Xbox 360, look no further than this.