Gears of War 4 Reviews

AuthorReview
Jet Klaatu
254,654 (160,620)
Jet Klaatu
TA Score for this game: 6,663
Posted on 11 October 18 at 03:51, Edited on 16 October 18 at 22:04
This review has 6 positive votes and 7 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
WRITTEN DURING THE TIME OF RELEASE

Depending on your outlook, the fourth title in this muscle-bound sci-fi series could easily look like an anachronism. It’s a single-path third-person cover-shooter that pays no heed to modern demands for open worlds, and belongs to a franchise that has looked somewhat jaded over the last few iterations. But Microsoft has cannily brought in a new developer, the Coalition, and it has administered a much-needed injection of fresh ideas, without compromising the core appeal.

After a brief nostalgic prologue, Gears of War 4 takes place 25 years after the Locust were (apparently) finally defeated in Gears 3. The planet Sera has changed massively in that quarter-century; the COG have become the baddies, exercising fascistic control over the populace with the help of a robotic army known as DBs, even though the authoritarian female first minister (remind you of anyone?), Jinn, begins by paying lip-service to Marcus Fenix at a commemorative rally. You play as James “JD” Fenix, son of Marcus, who has gone Awol from the COG and hooked up with a bunch of “outsiders” living off-grid in a country village. Along with sidekick Del and Kait, the franchise’s first properly central female character, JD embarks on a raid of a COG establishment with the aim of stealing a Fabricator – essentially a 3D printer with knobs on, which can make weapons and fortifications.

The merry band – moving through a world which, at last, hasn’t been entirely constructed using a colour palette of black, brown and grey – take on wave after wave of robots, using disappointingly weedy new weapons. But a change-up soon occurs: after returning to the outsider village and fending off a major COG assault (which seamlessly introduces the changes the Coalition has made to Gears of War’s legendary horde mode), a new enemy, which JD and company dub the Swarm, appears, kidnapping Kait’s mother, village headwoman, Reyna, and the rest of the village’s inhabitants.

Gears hero Marcus Fenix bonds with his son JD in the only way he knows how: over a massive machine gun. Gears hero Marcus Fenix bonds with his son JD in the only way he knows how: over a massive machine gun
So JD and his cohorts embark on another world-saving quest – and the first stop involves approaching the now-grizzled (but still gung-ho) Marcus Fenix who, rather unexpectedly, has opted for bucolic retirement in a country pile. Luckily, Marcus has his old COG gear, so at last you can reacquaint yourself with the trusty assault-rifle-cum-chainsaw Lancer and the Gnasher shotgun.

In the quest to find Reyna and discover the truth about the Swarm, Sera’s harsh climate occasionally intervenes: ‘windflares’ often strike, pairing beyond-hurricane-force winds with deadly localised lightning. In those sequences, impressive physics let you take out swathes of enemies by bringing the environment into play, and often add a puzzle-solving element. The Coalition has also thrown in some on-rails sequences, which are less successful, though: they simply feel too on-rails.

There are, of course, boss battles, and the various forms of the Swarm force you to take a more tactical approach than in the past – although you still have to fill them full of unfeasible quantities of lead, albeit in a much less indiscriminate manner. So-called Juvies, for example, are quick and elusive but unarmed, so they will melee you if you stay behind cover while, entertainingly, Snatchers will swallow you up if you let them get too close, rendering you helpless until a team-mate shoots you out of their stomachs (you can play the campaign cooperatively, although the AI, controlling bot-based team-mates, is pretty good). Overall, the single-player campaign offers a much more varied, flowing experience than previous Gears of War games. It isn’t the longest, though: those in a hurry could finish it in about nine hours.

The game’s real meat, however, lies online, with two major pillars in the form of versus multiplay and Horde 3.0 (the name reflecting the Coalition’s desire to register that the much-loved survival mode has been extensively revamped). In versus, Gears of War’s existing multiplayer modes make welcome returns, so you can plunge into warzone (team deathmatch with a single life per short-but-sweet round), team deathmatch (in which each team has an allocated number of lives), king of the hill and guardian. Plus there is the intriguing dodgeball, in which every time you kill an enemy, you allow a dead team-mate, consigned to a queue, to respawn.

Another new mode, arms race, is likely to inspire either fanatical devotion or total indifference, as it forces you to cycle through all the game’s weapons: every three kills, your team will swap to a new model. It’s a great idea (one that we have seen variations on in the Call of Duty series, among others), but it also means you have to use the new DB weapons, which are vastly inferior to the original COG ones. Escalation, meanwhile is a new mode which has e-sports firmly on its agenda: it involves teams capturing three areas and ramps up respawn times at the end of each round.

Social playlists allow you to jump into the multiplayer and sample various game types at a time, with the ability to vote for the next map and mode. There’s an XP system which extends across both Versus and Horde 3.0, which is good, and a Gears Pack system which provides cards that bring some pretty appealing cosmetic enhancements for use in versus, along with bounties (which are specific challenges), and some really useful perks and buffs that can be applied in horde mode. We played the multiplayer side of the game extensively pre-launch, and things progressed pretty smoothly – matching problems won’t arise as the game can strip in bots where needed – although we did experience one catastrophic crash at the end of a round.

Horde 3.0 chiefly benefits from the new mechanic provided by fabricators, which let you build things like electrified fences, automatic turrets and various levels of decoys. You can move your fabricator crate to whatever strategic place you feel you can best defend from the waves of incoming enemies, and the whole exercise adds a welcome new level of strategy to proceedings. But there is a caveat: Horde 3.0 also introduces classes, and you have to be very careful which you choose, as your class determines your load-out. You can, of course, pick up weapons from dead enemies, but pick the wrong class and you’ll be forced to use the weedy DB weaponry, which is annoying. And the game doesn’t offer anything like as much explanation of that as it should.

Overall, Gears of War 4 may adhere to a seemingly old-fashioned template but, in practice, it feels anything but archaic. Its single-player campaign is much more varied and engaging than those of its predecessors and the online mode is exhilarating, catering for all shades of gamers, from the less adept to those with pro-gamer aspirations. The horde thoroughly deserves its 3.0 designation upgrade and as a whole, the fourth iteration gives the Gears of War template the rejuvenating shot in the arm it sorely needed.
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Deranged Asylum
483,729 (282,065)
Deranged Asylum
TA Score for this game: 707
Posted on 06 October 16 at 08:23, Edited on 06 October 16 at 08:26
This review has 21 positive votes and 23 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Original Post

Gears of War 4 Review

Evolution is an ugly thing. From insignificant, microscopic, cosmic debris, our species has morphed, mutated and finally managed to reach a point where we are somewhat aesthetically pleasing. Our process was one without a prime mover or a cosmic engine ensuring that we reached the quasi-elegant design we currently possess. With this in mind, I can only imagine what we, as a species, would look like now if we had been blessed by the Unreal 4 engine and the intelligent design of The Coalition, as they reinvent the wheel – or the cog – with the release of Gears of War 4.

Evolution is a beautiful thing. From game modes to gameplay, Gears of War 4 exudes intelligence, purpose and precision in its design. These facets are possibly best encapsulated in the reinvention of the cover mechanics that form the fundamental axiom of the traditional Gears of War experience. Once upon a time (and two sequels thereafter) cover was simply that: a lump, a dead-end: an obstinate obstacle that your never-touched-a-steroid-like-Lance-Armstrong-never-touched-a-performance-enhancer character could barely stuff himself behind. Cover didn’t do anything because everyone just assumed that cover didn’t need to do anything. Gears of War 4 not only rejects this placid relationship with cover but injects the very basis of cover-based gameplay with an explosive cocktail of fresh, frantic new features, designed to keep your movement in firefights fluid and tactical.
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Firstly, the introduction of Close Cover Combat ensures that cover-based battles are microcosmic chess games with brutal consequences. The moves at your disposal while you’re on – or approaching – cover each have their rewards and risks. Pressing the X button while on cover will enable you to reach over cover for the enemy on the other side, drag them out of cover and, if you’re quick enough, execute them with a swift press of the Y button. If you’re approaching cover and you happen to see an enemy on the other side, waiting for their chance to ‘yank-and-shank’ you, you can deploy a mantle kick a la Gears of War 3. The ability to fluidly mantle cover with an offensive attack not only stops players from claiming cover and constantly yanking opponents but also keeps the movement speed of Gears of War 4 at a constant rapidity. This new found sense of speed in a historically slow genre (well, excluding Platinum games’ superb Vanquish) reinvigorates not only the Gears of War series but cover-based shooters as a whole.

The second stroke of evolutionary excellence comes in the form of destructible cover. This may seem like old hat in a marketplace full of games touting similar features, but Gears of War 4 utilises this feature in an exciting, dynamic way. Whether cover is taken from you by an opponent raining down on it with Lancer fire, or whether you’re storming the enemy and watching their cover be swept up in a lightning storm or a wind flare: breaking the previously concrete pact between cover and the player is essentially a gift as far as gameplay is concerned, insofar that firefights are constantly evolving and changing and forcing you to relocate and reorganise. Whether you’re new to the series or you’re a hardened veteran, the gameplay of Gears of War 4 will impress and engross you. It’s fundamentally more of what made the original trilogy so great – intense, blood-soaked firefights grounded in the series’ trademark military realism aesthetic – but with more attention paid to the finer points of the gameplay, rather than the bombastic, blockbuster moments that the Gears of War series is famous for.
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That isn’t to say that the latest installment has rejected such moments from the gene pool. On the contrary: Gears of War 4 might just be the most ludicrous campaign experience you’ll have this year. Twenty-five years after we said goodbye to the subterranean sadists known as the Locust Horde, the planet Sera has enjoyed unfettered peace, and the New Coalition of Ordered Governments is leading the people with a firm but fair hand. Of course, there are those that don’t want to be ruled by the CoG, and so they have taken to establishing colonies beyond the walled cities of the government. James Dominic Fenix is one such individual, and along with his friends Kait and Del, lead scouting missions and raids against the CoG in order to help out his colony.

What starts as a run-of-the-mill snatch-and-grab, however, soon spirals into a waking nightmare for the tearaway trio, who find themselves on the verge of a brand new war with a brand new enemy: the Swarm. Take Darwinian evolution, pop it in fleshy sack for thirty seconds, leave to cool, and voila – you’ve got the Swarm! These handsome devils come in all shapes and sizes, with each variant bringing something different to the ecosystem that is Gears of War 4’s firefights. ‘Juvies’ are the miniature-yet-manoeuvrable shock troops of the Swarm. They’ll dance and dive over any obstacle in order to meet and greet you – and probably eat you too if you give them half a chance! The larger Swarm are able to use weapons and cover. The A.I is particularly ruthless the more evolved the Swarm become, with some soldiers aggressively pushing you out of position, while snipers will typically hang back. When different enemy types collide, however, things get frantic! Managing the mayhem that is the various enemy types will remind fans of the previous enemies in the Gears series, such as the Wretches and the Theron Guards, yet the Swarm will present new challenges to the player thanks to superior, unrelenting A.I.
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As if the standard Swarm weren’t enough, a fresh batch of freaks will keep you on your toes… right up until your legs are ripped off by the aforementioned abominations. New nasties, such as the ‘Pouncer’, ‘Snatcher’ and ‘Carrier’, change how you interact with Gears of War 4 in a way that fans of the series haven’t had to do since the inclusion of the Lambent in Gears of War 3. Pouncers’ agility and aggression means maintaining cover is simply not an option: these guys will leap over any obstacle in order to seize you, and once they have you, it’s up to you to mash the B button for dear life, lest you die a Pouncer’s plaything! Snatchers are an equally disruptive presence, bringing with them a potentially hilarious, and nefarious, mechanic. Snatchers – as the name might suggest – can literally snatch other players and carry them off the battlefield. This mechanic makes them a unique threat, but also a squandered opportunity. If

If Gears of War 4 had been a 4-player cooperative experience, this enemy type would have made for a memorable 4-player moment, similar to the Lambent Berserker battle in Gears of War 3. Although the inexplicable lack of 4-player coop is, quite frankly, tragic to the point of being comic, the campaign is still a rewarding experience alone or with a friend. Additionally, the miniaturisation of these unique enemies means the campaign can be readily populated with them, resulting in a varied experience regarding the enemies that you’ll face. No longer are the memorable monstrosities relegated to a single boss battle over the course of a 10+ hours-long campaign. Instead of fighting one Corpser, or two Berserkers al la previous Gears of War games, players can take on multiple game-changing challenges in the space of a few firefights. When three Pouncers and a wave of Juvies get together, things get chaotic – fast! Simply put: no two firefights are ever the same in Gears of War 4, with destructible cover, difficult A.I and diverse enemy types colliding to form the perfect storm of voracious enemies and varied campaign experiences.
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Speaking of perfect storms, now might be a good time to talk about the perfect storms in Gears of War 4. Just as the gameplay has evolved, so too has the weather of the planet Sera. Violent ‘windflares’ ravage the land, billowing thunderbolts and battering battlefields with loose debris. Each of these instances of windflare activity is an event unlike any other, and the Unreal Engine shines in these sections. The way grenades flail helplessly in the wind, the way a Torque Bow reticule is mercilessly dragged across the screen rather than up it, the sheer force of loose environmental assets being tossed around like playthings from the pram of an angry child: the sound and the fury of these sections is impressive, and wholly apart from anything else you’ll experience in gaming at the moment. Likewise, the audio quality is utterly superb. Every single weapon you pick up has its own voice. From the feverous, fricative fire rate of the Enforcer sub-machine gun to the mechanical, mac-speed release of an Embar round from its chamber, the wealth of weapons on offer in Gears of War 4 is not only impressive in terms of choice for the player, but also in terms of audio fidelity. Truly, this title’s bark is as savage as it’s bite, with Unreal Engine 4 and the deft hand of the developers ensuring Gears 4 is as worthy of the title ‘next-generation game’ as the next generation hardware is worthy of staging this technical achievement.

Gears of War 4’s campaign is an intelligently designed, robust, eclectic mix that will cater to all tastes. A veritable piñata of a package, with defensive sections, exploratory sections and all-out firefight sections coming together seamlessly to form a brilliant campaign experience. The dialogue between characters can sometimes be a bit ham-fisted, and certain relationships aren’t given enough airtime to develop, however. Gamers looking for Charlotte Bronte at the end of a chainsaw bayonet will be disappointed, but what else is new? Gears of Wars’ campaigns have always been style-over-substance affairs, and Gears of War 4 does try to pull at your heartstrings… until you realise you’d much rather be ripping those heartstrings out of your enemies’ chests. This isn’t to say there is no story at all: there is definitely a point to what you’re doing, even if it will only be made clear right at the very end, but the plot of the game is relatively weak. The action and variety of the campaign mode will keep you engaged rather than the not-so Pulitzer worthy plot.
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Once you’re done with the starter, however, you’ll be wanting to tuck right into the main course: online multiplayer. Since little has changed fundamentally regarding the series’ multiplayer from Gears of War 3 to Gears of War 4, it’s certainly worth discussing the changes made to the ever-popular “Horde” mode. Arguably the most accomplished example of a wave-based game mode in recent years, Gears of War 4’s Horde mode is just as fun as its predecessors were. With five friends, Horde is a joy to play, and a nice change of pace from the competitive, close-quarters combat seen in the conventional multiplayer – that is brilliant, by the way. Gears of War 4’s Horde mode is a beast (or rather, a horde of beasts!) of a different colour rather than a simple adaptation of the prior installments. For starters, the starting point for your doomed defence can be moved at any time. A ‘fabricator’ – a device that can produce fences, turrets, decoys

For starters, the starting point for your doomed defence can be moved at any time. A ‘fabricator’ – a device that can produce fences, turrets, decoys etc. in exchange for points – can be dragged across the map at will. If your seemingly perfect position turns into a holdout from hell, just move your fabricator to a new location, and set up shop. Defences can also be manipulated at will, meaning you don’t have to abandon the defences you’ve already installed. This crucial addition to the Horde formula is genome-altering, changing the entire being that was Horde mode. Tactical malleability and the ability to respond to enemy types by moving to high ground, or take shelter in a canopied position, allows players the opportunity to utilise every inch of the map, and as a result encourages exploration and experimentation: a far cry from the obstinate, ‘set-up-and-stay-put’ Horde experience of Gears of War 3.
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Furthermore, class-based systems have infiltrated Gears of War 4’s Horde experience, to dubious effect. With five virtually arbitrary classes to choose from, ranging from the Sniper, Soldier, Heavy Weapons, Engineer and Scout, you’d be forgiven for thinking these titles mean anything on their own. The Sniper, Heavy Weapons and Soldier class have no inherent abilities whatsoever, and the Engineer can rebuild things at an accelerated rate, but any class can purchase the repair tool item, meaning all the classes can be engineers too! The Scout class has the passive ability to collect more ‘juice’ from fallen enemies on the battlefield, meaning his contribution to the fabricator’s power supply is worth more if used correctly. These classes seem to have been added to Horde in order to justify the new “card” system.

Cards are… well… cards, basically. They can be equipped to your character in order to give them new abilities, such as increased movement speed or access to class-specific weapons or upgrades via the fabricator. Although the absence of cards won’t be felt on lower Horde difficulties, higher difficulties virtually require you to utilise this new feature, since hardcore and insane difficulties are exactly that: pretty hardcore and definitely insane! It stands to reason that superior cards will grant access to superior resources, but this is by no means a ‘pay-to-win’ system. At its core, Horde mode is still one that depends upon the strength of the team rather than the deep pockets of the individual. With or without cards, Horde is still as much fun as it always has been, although the inclusion of microtransactions in a game as robust as Gears of War 4 is disappointing, to say the least… and downright f**king despicable if pushed to the utmost extreme.
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A note on microtransactions: they aren’t remotely necessary. Most of them are cosmetic, and the ones that are cosmetic can be purchased with either in-game currency that can be earned by playing the game, or by destroying other cards in order to accumulate ‘scrap’ that can be used to create cards that you want (like the utterly fantabulous ‘trippy’ gun skin!). All this being said, their inclusion is one that I, personally, had rather not had to deal with as a consumer. Happily though, the Gears of War 4 package is already replete with content, and the ability to craft weapon skins means that you have unfettered access to a superb campaign, a next-generation Horde mode and possibly the finest, most frantic multiplayer mode ever devised: and you don’t have to spend a single penny more for any of it.

Oddly enough, it is the multiplayer mode that leaves me with the least to discuss. With old favourites and brand new game modes, character customisation and the CCC mechanics mentioned earlier, Gears of War 4’s online multiplayer is simply the continuation – and evolution – of the phenomenal multiplayer that enthralled fans and players fresh to the series way back on Gears of War 3. From the brand new “Dodgeball” mode, that sees players respawn upon an enemy player’s death, to classic game modes like Execution and Guardian, finding your favourite game mode will be a joyous experience, regardless of whether you’re playing casually or competitively.

Conclusion

One can’t help but marvel at the depth of Gears of War 4. Much like Doom before it, Gears of War 4 is virtually three play-intensive, utterly rewarding experiences in one technologically stunning package. The way this title faithfully channels the spirit of the classic Gears of War experience while making the whole thing feel young and alive again is a miraculous happening. Unreal Engine 4, coupled with the creative vision of The Coalition, has produced a phenomenal reboot of a beloved series that will no doubt resonate with fans new and old, thanks to the faithful adherence to the very DNA that made Gears of War the monolithic franchise we know it to be. Equal parts nostalgia and new experiences, Gears of War 4 is an invitation into the next generation; an invitation that should not be declined.
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James Carr
321,387 (192,760)
James Carr
TA Score for this game: 2,690
Posted on 14 October 16 at 23:00
This review has 4 positive votes and 6 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
All around me are familiar faces

Campaign

The Gears 4 campaign is a return to basics for the franchise with a drop back to two player co-op and a small story simply following the story of JD Fenix and company as they deal with being hunted by the COG and the return of an old enemy. Gameplay wise the campaign has the normal facets of getting to a cover filled area dealing with a large group of enemies attacking the player and moving onto the next enemy filled area. While the game does introduce new enemies in the DeeBees which are used by the COG to deal with security issues and outsider villages. These new enemies fight differently then the usual Swarm/Locust style of AI. The DeeBees are far more aggressive and rush the player much quicker since robots have no regard for their own lives. Unfortunately this does mean that they seem to have no real strategies to their attacks and fighting can become repetitive feeling. The Swarm are much more dynamics in their attempts to deal with the player allowing for more variety in gameplay.

The level settings vary from COG facilities to the underground mines of the Swarm giving a very grandiose feeling to the campaign. The only real variety in level design comes in the "Horde mode" acts and the two vehicle sequences, giving some change of pace to the gameplay.

The story feels much smaller in scope comparer to the last couple of Gears games which allows for more detail and depth in the characters involved.

Multiplayer and Horde

The multiplayer comes strong with fluid gameplay and a variety of game modes for players to enjoy. The new arms race mode is comparable to Gun Game from Call of Duty but in a team mode and dodgeball makes for comeback victories every round with players getting to respawn whenever a teammate kills an enemy.

Horde feels good with the newest evolution of being able to set up base and fortifications where ever the players feel and can be moved at any point during the match. It also adds in classes that have different skills which can be upgraded.

The biggest change and the biggest problems Gears of War 4 has sprouts from the additions of bounties and skills to multiplayer and horde mode. Bounty and skill cards are gained from card packs which can be purchased with real money or credits which are earned from playing the game. The credits however are earned at a very slow rate with players getting around 50 credits for a 15-20 minute match and the cheapest packs costing 400 and the expensive packs costing 3500. This issue is remedied since unwanted cosmetics, bounties, and skills can be scrapped and crafted but this only travels so far since the scrape gained is a fraction of the cost of the cards and skill cards that the player has never received out of the packs cannot be crafted, placing more emphasis on micro transactions in a 60$ game.
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Reverend M3TA
489,679 (320,947)
Reverend M3TA
TA Score for this game: 8,644
Posted on 26 October 16 at 06:28, Edited on 26 October 16 at 10:28
This review has 6 positive votes and 9 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Original Post is here.

GEARS OF WAR 4
Developed by The Coalition, published by Microsoft Studios.
Released October 11th, 2016.
1-2 player campaign, 1-5 players online coop, 2-10 players online versus.
Rated M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language)
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Gears 4 is the first game in the series not originally developed by Epic Games. The Coalition proved they were technically competent with the Ultimate Edition remake of the first Gears of War, but with this new title they also prove they can make a full, original game that honours the series' legacy while creating new characters in a new story and adding new features.

The good news is that this is an excellent Gears of War game and a worthy successor to Gears 3 that is quality enough to erase the negativity created by Judgment.
The bad news is that there isn't actually much "new" here besides micro-transactions that replace traditional unlocks, and if you never cared for Gears' heavy-feeling, third-person rolling-and-shooting action, there is nothing for you here.

The story is set 25 years after the "Imulsion Countermeasure" event that wiped out the Locust and Lambent, effectively ending the conflict on Sera that had been the driving narrative behind all previous Gears games. Now a new generation runs the Coalition of Ordered Governments, aka the COG, and their rule has become heavy-handed in the absence of an enemy.

The campaign begins with a prologue that showcases significant moments from past conflicts, including stealing the Hammer of Dawn from the UIR, a battle during E-day when the Locust horde first emerges, and defending Anvil Gate fortress from a huge army of Locust and Lambent until Marcus Fenix and company stop the Locust queen and deploy the Imulsion Countermeasure which served as the ending of Gears 3. This prologue is quick and fun, and does a great job serving as a tutorial, introducing controls and gameplay mechanics while catching players up on the story and setting the stage for what's to come.

In rebuilding humanity, many have chosen to make a life outside of the sterile, structured COG cities, including protagonist James Dominic Fenix who is the son of Marcus Fenix & Anya Stroud. At the opening of Act 1, JD and his friend Del have abandoned the COG army to live as Outsiders. They are joined by Kait, the daughter of the Outsiders' leader, and her uncle Oscar. The game proper starts by tasking you (and optionally a second player) with sneaking in to a COG facility to steal a Fabricator for your village. You are confronted by one of the game's new enemy factions -- autonomous robots called DeeBees that initially act as non-lethal enforcers but quickly become lethal threats as the conflict escalates.

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As you make your way through the first couple acts, you find out that people have inexplicably gone missing from both the COG cities and Outsider camps, and after re-uniting with your neanderthal father Marcus you confront the second enemy faction and Gears 4's true threat: the Swarm. The rest of the campaign has you chasing after Kait's mother Reyna and trying to figure out the source of the Swarm threat.

Both the DeeBee and Swarm factions have units that are practically 1-for-1 analogs to former Locust units, but they exhibit differences in weapons and tactics. The robots use new SMGs, railguns, missile launchers and double-firing shotguns, along with area-of-effect shock grenades, to pin you down and slowly advance in force. The monsters use classic Gears weapons like Hammerbursts, Gnashers, Torque Bows and Boomshots to fight you cover-to-cover at medium range while smaller Juveniles attack up close en masse and Scions stay to the rear, wielding new heavy weapons, the Buzzkill and Dropshot, and buffing Drones.

Combining new mini-bosses and great setpiece & action moments with a more intimate, focused feel, Gears 4's campaign feels closer to the original game's scope and tone, rather than the more epic-but-popcorn-y feel of Gears 2 and 3. There is heavy reliance on old characters and series staples, but the new characters and weapons have enough presence to create fresh interest and suggest a good future for the series. Production values are high -- Kait is voiced by Laura Bailey, Oscar is voiced by Jimmy Smits, and John DiMaggio returns as the eloquent meathead Marcus Fenix. Towards the end of the campaign a few more old favourites show up, and thanks to the great visuals, consistently good audio and solid, proven mechanics, the game is a pleasure to play.

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The triple threat of a Gears game includes cooperative Horde mode and competitive Versus modes online in addition to the campaign, and Gears 4 offers the most ways to play yet.

A strange feature of the online Versus is that the unranked "Social" mode has rolling lobbies and map votes but you can't choose which mode you want for matchmaking. If you want to stick to King of the Hill or Team Deathmatch, you have to choose a "Core" playlist, all of which are ranked. There are numerous other modes, including the new "Dodgeball" which lets you bring back defeated teammates with each enemy kill. To cater to the growing competitive & eSports crowds, Gears 4 offers Escalation and Execution modes with re-tuned weapon attributes.

A nice new addition to Versus is being able to play cooperatively with 4 other matchmade players against a team of 5 bots with selectable difficulty. This is great for learning the new weapons and CQC mechanics like the yank-and-shank, and also allows folks to avoid the worse parts of the highly competitive and sometimes toxic online community. This also gives another place to complete bounties and earn credits without pressure.

Horde mode is back as version 3.0 and is more complex than ever. You now choose a character's class which involves 1-5 skills you set, and fortifications like razor wire barriers and gun turrets can be placed anywhere. This mode is played with up to 4 other players and can be on any map. Currently matchmaking only places you in fresh Horde lobbies starting at wave 1 and new players have to be manually invited if someone drops, but the developers have already said that backfilling will be added in an upcoming patch.

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So far all of this has been fairly standard progression from what was offered in Gears 3 and Judgment, but the major new addition to Gears 4 is the economy system. Everything you do in multiplayer revolves around cards -- in Horde mode, cards determine what skills your class has, and both Horde and Versus use bounty cards that reward completing specific tasks with bonus XP or credits. These credits are used to purchase new card packs, which also provide new character and weapon skins in addition to emblems, skills and bounties. Cards you don't want can be broken down to scrap, which you then use to craft cards you do want. Unfortunately, crafting anything other than Common cards requires a large amount of scrap -- a Common card will only provide 5 scrap, and crafting a Legendary character or weapon skin will cost 2,400.

You can also buy card packs with real money. This has rubbed a lot of players the wrong way, but the upside of this new micro-transaction model is that future maps and other DLC will be released free-of-charge. The issue I have here is that most of the card packs are just way too expensive. The "Elite Pack", which offers the best chance of getting rare characters and weapon skins, costs 3500 credits or $4.99 for a single pack, which is only 5 cards and only guarantees 1 rare or better. The good thing is that everything can be earned in-game without spending any real money, and the developers have already increased the credits earned for all online modes. While skill cards do affect your abilities in cooperative Horde mode, everything you can earn or buy for Versus modes is 100% cosmetic, so there is no "pay2win" and someone who spends hundreds of dollars won't have any advantage over peasants like me, except that they might collect all of the Day of the Dead-themed skins faster than I do.

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TL;DR:
+ Excellent visual and audio design; Gears' world now has COLOR!
+ Familiar, proven mechanics with a few useful additions
+ Campaign provides variety while remaining focused
+ Versus multiplayer continues to offer unique experiences
+ Horde mode is expanded & vastly increases replayability
+ New weapons fit in great with the staple Gears arsenal
+ Voice work is mostly above average
+ Dedicated servers for all online modes, almost no lag
+ Versus mode runs at 60fps
+ Split-screen is an option
+ Not too many collectibles, placements are mostly rational
- Horde mode requires an online connection
- Swarm enemies feel too similar to Locust
- Story pacing is uneven in the campaign's middle acts
- Checkpoint placement can be troublesome on higher difficulties
- Card packs are too expensive
- Main protagonist JDF has the personality of oatmeal
- Over-reliance on old characters to generate interest
- Horde mode runs at 30fps
- Zombie character skins say "brains..." constantly
- Campaign ends abruptly
? Why did they get rid of the mortar and flamethrower
? Does Minh Young Kim really have the codes
? OMFG WHAT HAPPENED TO ANYA

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Overall I give Gears of War 4 a 4.5 out of 5. It loses half a point because it relies a lot on old stuff, and is too stingy with card packs. It is a very well-made game with high production values and excellent multiplayer options. It is a good value with an 8-12 hour campaign (depending on chosen difficulty) and tons of replayability thanks to robust cooperative and competitive modes. The developers have already made several small changes through their back end, and have shown diligence in addressing concerns from the community.

Achievements: Unfortunately Gears 4 is pretty stingy with its Achievements and Gamerscore. Playing through the campaign and getting most of the collectibles will only net you about 200G. If you're going for a completion, among other things it will require earning Seriously 4.0 which includes completing the campaign on Insane, re-uping [prestiging] 10 times, getting all Horde classes to level 10, finishing Horde to wave 50 on Insane once with each class, and finishing 50 waves on all 10 of the launch maps.
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joFuRi
141,068 141,068 GamerScore
joFuRi
TA Score for this game: 5
Posted on 01 June 18 at 13:07
This review has 1 positive vote and 8 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Pro's:
1. The gameplay is fantastic, it feels and handles like a Gears game.
2. The Campaign is great with a new and original story that compliments the original trilogy.
3. The multiplayer is as good as it's been since the original.
4. Horde works as usual with several new aspects, such as the class system and the fabricator.

Con's:
1. The microtransactions aren't handled well in my opinion (although this being addressed by The Coalition). Unlockables are stuck behind a wall in which you either pay or grind to pass. You aren't awarded online characters for levelling up or finishing the Campaign like in Gears of War 3.

Thoughts:
A great addition to the series with both my offline and online experience exceeding my expectations. The best Xbox One exclusive to date.
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