Gears of war has always had a very soft spot in my heart. I remember the very first game fondley. It was the reason I bought an Xbox 360, the moody trailer, the breathtaking graphics, the hours lost to the addictive multiplayer. It was a complete classic and will go down in gaming history as one. That’s why playing Gears 5 have been such a treat for me. To be honest with you, I was not a huge fan of gears of war 4. It felt like a copy/paste scenario. They got rid of the locust and introduced “The Swarm”. Which is just painted over locust, it seemed like a very lazy attempt. I mean the “Brumak” is called the “swarmak”, if you want to see how cringey it is. Brushing that aside, gears 4 was a fun time. The graphics were groundbreaking, the multiplayer smooth as ever and the campaign that went the usual course of a gears story. I played it for about six months and never touched it again. Which when it comes to gears game, that’s a sad state of affairs. Gears 1-3 kept me hooked for almost two years. The DLC, multiplayer, everything! So now playing Gears of 5, I can safely say that the franchise has hit a peak again. This is the best gears game since gears of war 2 (the best one in my humble opinion). Now starting this review off, I want to say two things. First, I have not completed the campaign and so it will not be a “complete” review. Secondly, I will be breaking this review up into two sections, for the sake of giving each mode (Campaign,Multiplayer) a fair review. That being said. Let’s dive in.

It’s all about the swarm baby

Gears 5 campaign is one of the best campaigns in the series so far. Up until this point Gears 5 as been mainly a linear experience. Move from point A to point B and then finally point C. Next chapter, rinse and repeat. Acts two and three of Gears 5 switch this up. Now I’m not going to say it’s a complete open world experience as in a grand theft auto game or even the new God of War, but it is very different and a risky move for a franchise that like to hold on to more of the same mentality. This is going to be a spoiler-free review, so don’t worry about reading further. The first thing that struck me about the campaign was the heart it had. Gears games surprisingly have always had a lot of tender moments. Despite its very “bro-core” killing mechanics. All I need to mention is the Dom and Marcus bromance. It was the core of Gears 1-3 and made it so much more than just another cover based shooter. Gears 4 lacked this. Sure it had some fun characters, but at the end of the story, I never really felt like I knew these characters are cared about them. Gears 5 changes this. Taking creative risks with certain characters and adding the elements you would never have thought they would take. I will say this, I have

played this campaign in co-op (the game is three player co-op in campaign mode).
Co-op is fun as ever and really adds a lot of fun new gameplay elements. Being able to upgrade Jack to help in the battle was a nice change of pace to the shoot & loot mechanics of the past. Be warned, if you play this game in co-op mode and you’re not playing as Kai. You will miss out on parts of the story, vital parts in my opinion and I still can’t wrap my head around this horrible storytelling device. Kai has certain moments happen to her that you just want to see if you’re playing as Del or Jack. If they offered a unique story with Del as well, I wouldn’t have much a gripe with this, but they don’t. No idea why they did this, but nevertheless, it was a bad move. This brings me to my next gripe, playing as Jack. Listen, I love robot sidekicks, it’s a fun troupe that movies and videogames have been doing for years and I hope they never stop. In Gears 5 someone thought it would be a good idea to make “Jack” a playable character and force someone to play as him as well. The reason this is a bad move is because at the heart of Gears, the most fun you’re going to have is shooting shit and blowing people’s heads off. You cannot do this as Jack. You can zap people, flash freeze them, shock traps, etc. You do not get a gun and you do not get to have any of the cover based fun that makes Gears what it is. I tried playing with three people and inevitably the person playing Jack doesn’t want to play anymore. Why would they? They have a mission where all Jack does is hold an object as Del and Kai clear out rooms of bad guys. So a human would have to control jack and just avoid gunfire? This is not fun and I think it’s the most ridiculous addition to the franchise no one asked for. Give us 4 player co-op with all human characters or even 2 player, but please do not give us this anymore. I truly hope for gears 6 they bring back 4 player co-op campaign mode. All that being said, gears 5 is the most fun I’ve had with a gears game in awhile and I truly respect the creative risk they’ve taken with the small open world style gameplay and light RPG elements. There is always a risk of alientating the fan base, but I think it’s subtle enough that even the most hardcore gears fans (like myself) will enjoy the freshness of it. My final word on the campaign is to play it at “experienced” difficulty, it will be frustrating, but I found it to be the only way to play without it feeling too easy.

Pass me that chainsaw, please

Ah yes, on to my favorite section of Gears. The multiplayer, now while Gears did gain some traction for its storytelling and epic set pieces. We all know it was the multiplayer that made it a must have. Going toe to toe with the juggernaut multiplayer games a the time, Halo, Call of duty, etc. This is the reason people bought Gears of war. The sweet sound of exploding someones head with a longshot. The awe inspiring image of chainsawing your way through someone’s chest to victory. You just couldn’t beat it, so in this section I’ll be breaking down the multiplayer of Gears 5.

Versus Mode

Let’s start with the basic multiplayer. I’m happy to say that the classic quick play matches are just as fun and smooth as ever. The gameplay is tight, fast and an absolute blast to play. The adrenaline of rushing as fast as you can to get the weapons in the center of the map that can change the tides will always be a favorite of mine. The game ships with a good amount of maps, some are new, others are remade classics. I feel as if I was only playing on 3-6 maps during my time online. The versus playlist comes with the usual list of team deathmatch, execution, dodgeball and guardian. Gears 5 also introduces a brand new multiplayer mode called “Arcade mode”. It’s a nice breakaway from the other modes which are basically all about the Gnasher. In this mode you earn skulls for kills (or if you’re really bad, it’s for dying too much). With these skills you can purchase new weapons which are specific to each character. The ultimate edition comes with unique characters, Halo Reach’s Kat and Emillie, Sarah connor and the terminator. I thought these would be nothing more than just skin swaps, but I can say they each have unique abilities that fit their character and I commend the developers for making them more than just a basic skin swap. The only major issue I’ve been having with the multiplayer mode is the interface. It’s all over the place, major crashes from time to time and I the voting system does not seem to work to well. I hope they fix this with a patch in the future.

Escape from the hive

The newest addition to Gears 5 is Escape mode. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this mode and I don’t want to give too much away, it’s better to experience it on your own. The intro to this mode never gets old and the concept is a nice fit for the gears franchise. Make it from point A to point B and try to be your old time. The difficulty of this mode completely depends on you, but this mode is not the simple run and gun I thought it was going to be. You have to be a bit stealthier than you would be used to in a gears game. This can be a bit clunky, but yet again. It’s nice they’re taking some risks and I hope to see more of this in future games. My final thoughts on this new mode is it’s fun, there is a lot of potential for it and I hope they keep adding solid content as they have said.

My back against the wall

Every since horde mode hit the scene back in gears of war 2, it’s hard to deny how damn addictive it is. The whole premise is simple, fight off waves of enemies, occasionally fight a boss and just make it through 50 waves to complete it. We’ve seen similar things in COD zombies mode. This horde mode in Gears 5 doesn’t change much. A few new weapons here, new character classes, maps, etc. Not that anything is really wrong with this, but it is a shame to see they didn’t take any new directions with this. I hope they somehow do a combined game mode of Horde/Escape. You can play horde mode by yourself with bots or play it with four other friends (The only way to play it).

Final thoughts

Gears 5 is the best Gears of war game since the second one and that’s saying something. The story is engaging, the gameplay is damn near perfect and it’s never lost that touch of being an over the top 80’s action movies. If you’re not into the story elements, that’s fine. Gears 5 multiplayer options are back and smooth as ever, the ranking system is far and the weekly awards are enough to keep you coming back again and again. With some minor technical issues and matchmaking problems

hopefully to be addressed with future patches, I can only say that I have high hopes for the Gears franchise after this instalment.