Available on Xbox One, PC
We played on Xbox One
In general, shooters aren’t really my thing. Unless there’s something crazy about them, like being a plant or a zombie, they all seem to blend together. Gears of War 4 isn’t unique enough to make me rethink my entire feelings about the genre, but it has a good story and practically flawless gameplay. It should be considered a must-buy if the sci-fi shooter genre is your cup of tea.
Since this is the fourth entry in the franchise, the story for Gears of War 4 brings in a bit of the past and builds off that to make an interesting progression. After re-living some of the past events as a nameless soldier in a couple of prologue missions, you come into the crux of the story, which takes place 25 years after the events of the previous games. You play as J.D. Fenix, whose father is Marcus Fenix, the protagonist of previous games. J.D. and his friend have deserted the Coalition of Ordered Governments because they question some of the new policies of First Minister Jinn, namely the building of compounds with strict authoritarian rules over the people who live in them.
There are pockets of people known as outsiders who choose not to live in one of these compounds. But they’re strapped for resources that are kept under lock and key in the compounds. When J.D. helps one of these outsider villages, he’s launched into a larger plot that includes the involvement, of not only the compounds and First Minister Jinn, but also a hostile force of alien creatures.
Gears of War 4, like its predecessors is a third-person shooter. You use a variety of weapons to shoot all sorts of enemies. And that’s basically it. You shoot. And then you shoot some more. And then you shoot even more. It’s honestly not my favorite type of gameplay, but it’s done so well and it’s so polished that it’s hard to find fault in it. The controls are intuitive and the on-screen prompts and heads-up display do a great job of giving you the information you need to know quickly and then letting you immediately try it out from within the gameplay. Gears of War 4 also has an item called a fabricator, which can be used to craft weapons, which comes in handy when you run out of ammo for your equipped weapons.
The campaign mode can be played cooperatively with two people either online or split-screen. There are also competitive online multiplayer modes and a cooperative mode where you face waves upon waves of enemies.
Gears of War 4 is rated M with content descriptors for blood and gore, intense violence and strong language. When you shoot enemies, their deaths are very graphic with plenty of blood. Alien enemies will explode in a shower of blood and tissue that is quite gruesome. Except in cut scenes, you’re constantly in battle with little or no time to catch your breath.
Gears of War 4 is an example of a game doing one thing and doing it extremely well. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter that’s more polished than this one. The depth of the story was surprising to me and is actually more interesting than you’re standard sci-fi fare. Straight-up shooters aren’t really my thing, but I enjoyed playing the game. If you’re a big fan of shooters, then you’ll definitely want to give the game your attention.