The Gears of War Experience

As we know it today Gears of War is a well-established, behemoth of a franchise capable of pulling in scores of gamers online, week in, week out. How did it start? How did Gears become a massive gaming phenomenon?

Let’s do a quick overview for those that haven’t played the original Gears of War. Gears is a third person shooter which was developed by Epic Games and subsequently published by Microsoft Studios in November 2006. It was an exclusive title for the 360, however A PC version followed a year later (which People Can Fly had an input on) featuring new content including additional campaign levels, a new multiplayer game mode, and Games for Windows – Live functionality. You battled on the planet known as Sera.

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The game focuses on the troops of Delta Squad. As the player your enemy is known as the Locust Horde. You assume the role of Marcus Fenix and co-operatively can play as Dominic Santiago if you choose to. Marcus begins the game in a prison cell for a crime that is briefly glossed over but it seems he defied direct orders.

Sorry newbies, for me the game had the best cover and fire gameplay I had ever experienced. The online mode was typically 4 vs. 4 and consisted of Warzone, Execution, Assassination and Annex, the games had a host player who naturally had the best connection but would ultimately lose anyway.

Warzone is standard 4 vs. 4 (my personal favourite) deathmatch type game mode where you had one life and it had to count! No respawns, no second chances and no mercy. Execution is effectively the same game type but required a close quarters ‘FINISH HIM’ moment, players had to tap X to curb stomp or B to whack the down but not out enemy, however headshots bypassed this rule altogether.

Annex is a King of the Hill game mode where the ring moves around the map forcing more firefights, Assassination was a mode where one leader had to be protected as soon as the leader was killed the teams leader which was left standing would be the winners.

Gears of War converted me from a first person shooter kinda guy to a third person duck, cover and shoot sorta bloke! I spent many, many hours coming home from work sticking on my headset and playing with my online comrades, Deano86, AstonBen, Padders81, Headbutt92, Puddum and KRIPPYMD06… We organised Clan games and held our own in amidst the online competitiveness and abuse. Gears of War was around before Xbox Live party chat ever existed and quite frankly in my opinion Party chat is by far the worst feature of Xbox Live, it killed competitive chat over Xbox Live and the true atmosphere of what Gears was all about.

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Online modes meant once you were killed you had to wait for the next round… alone… unless the guy on the other team who you have killed for the last couple of rounds was in there waiting for you, ready to hurl verbal trash in your direction spitting his teeth everywhere seething, bright red in the face for 30 seconds while you laughed, goading them on until one of your team or his team got killed and dropped in to say hello as well. This simple method allowing base animalistic competitive d*ck measuring to continue online while the battle was ongoing was brilliant and kept you engaged throughout the matches.

One of the best things about Gears was when you were the Last Man Standing for your team, all eyes were on you and it was quite easy to tactically dispatch the other team, even if they had a full one. The Last Man Standing adrenaline rush was always a threat to be wary of. There were numerous times where our team could hold an area outnumbered and lure the enemy to their doom. Gears is truly a fantastic game! This kind of co-operative play and tactics doesn’t happen in the new Gears games as they have become more commercialised to suit the average gamer. Gears was never about pick up and play and you would haul in the kills; it was about pick up and play, get beat lots of times and learn the hard way to get better which meant lots of people ducked out at their first crack of the whip.

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Fancying a go, and seeing if people were still online, I popped in the Gears disc I still own. To my amazement there are still lobbies online with people sitting and waiting for others to join their games. I stepped back in old shoes and hammered a few of these guys, it felt like getting rusty was never an option. I still to this day do not get such satisfaction from any other game compared to when I blow someone away on Gears. The difference is no one speaks anymore, I assume we have party chat to thank for that. The game is still in its own right a fantastic game and can still hold its own in a competitive multiplayer market. The only things that let Gears down now are the dire connections to other players and lack of banter online. However part of me still loves this game well and truly.

We are giving away three digital downloads of Gears of War. All you need to do for a chance to win is comment on this article with your Gamertag and tell us about your favourite online multiplayer game and why. The closing date is the 30th June and we will contact the lucky winners after this date. Good luck, we are all counting on you (the inhabitants of Sera).

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