Gears Forever (Gears 5 Review)

Daniel Anderson

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Wow… just wow. What a game. I’ve been excited for Gears 5 since it’s announcement a year ago in June and was able to play it the weekend of its pre-order just recently. Gears of War back in the day redefined what a shooter was and at the time had the best graphics of anything in its generation. The franchise always implemented cover-to-cover gameplay forcing you to keep your head down or die while fighting a desperate war against a brutal, savage, and inhuman enemy using the most over-the-top weapons anyone can think of. A bowgun that shoots exploding arrows, a revolver that tears an enemy to shreds in less than 2 shots, a space laser that can put down any big monster, and an assault rifle that has a chainsaw bayonet, and that’s just how the franchise was started. Ever since then Gears has been getting more brutal and over the top with each game and that brutality inspired equally as graphic books. But I’m not here to talk about Gears’ entire history, I’m here to review Gears 5.

 

Story

 

The story was a step up from the previous Gears of War 4 game where the characters were winey and in a bad way. You could argue that Baird in the first 3 installments was winey and overdramatic but he at least makes up for that by being a good mechanic and getting his job done. In Gears 5 however, these characters that were introduced in the previous game are now tough as nails and take no crap from anyone. This time around we get 3 player co-op with two players playing as the boots on the ground characters available in the chapter and one playing as a Jackbot. Spoilers ahead so if you want to see what I think about the story without any spoilers skip to the end of the section.

JD is the son of living legend Marcus Fenix, (Do not confuse this as a misspell I am aware of the Egyptian Phoenix) hero of the old C.O.G. (Coalition of Ordered Governments) and Anya Stroud, Marcus’ handler and wife. Del Walker is JD’s best friend with all of the chemical and mechanical know-how. Kait Diaz is an outsider turned soldier after the events of Gears 4, traumatized after her home village was abducted and turned into monsters, as well as having to kill her mother to end her suffering. We start the story going to Azura, an old C.O.G. research facility hidden from the public eye and the place that the Human-Locust war was ended by Marcus Fenix leading Delta Squad, and his father Professor Adam Fenix. Kait, Del, JD, Marcus, and a bot named Dave journey to its secret rocket silo’s to launch an old Hammer of Dawn satellite with Damon Baird on comms taking the Command role this time as well as the C.O.G.’s resident inventor. During the mission, the new Delta squad ran into some complications involving a jammed silo hatch, and wave upon wave of Swarm drones, juvies, and scions. Oh, that’s right, I never explained what the Swarm is. After the late Adam Fenix activated his Lightmass weapon at Azura all of the organisms affected by imulsion mutations, (including the miracle fuel itself) were destroyed, and the war ended. Imulsion refineries were destroyed, the Lambent were all killed off and the Locust were believed to be dead, so covered in yellow crystals they were dumped underground. Humanity had finally experienced 25 years of peace after fighting for nearly 90 years (17 of which was spent fighting the Locust).

After launching the Hammer satellite, Dave was badly damaged by a ticked off juvie and Delta was able to return to New Ephyra, which is oddly enough built on top of the sunken ruins of old Jacinto. Marcus was visibly upset as JD took an unnecessary risk opening the silo shutters himself and putting everyone at risk, and imagined that he would get an extra earful from First Minister Jinn. First JD, Del, and Kait visit Baird in his workshop while Marcus goes to the first minister’s office to help calm her down before the rest of the squad has to get there. It’s at this point that we are introduced to the new Jack, a recent modeled Jackbot with a variety of features, from improved combat and support functions and a sleeker look. This is where the upgrade system comes into play as you have to find components and upgrade modules to make Jack’s abilities even more useful. We are also introduced to Fahz, a shoot first ask questions never, kind of soldier with a bad attitude who has a bad history with JD and Del. Shortly after retrieving a component to upgrade Jack from the training room we cut to Marcus and Jinn having a conversation about Delta’s unapproved mission to launch an old Hammer of Dawn satellite when Jinn brings up the late first minister Anya Stroud. Obviously, Marcus is visibly upset by Jinn’s statement as it is a very touchy subject for Marcus, this being about his dead wife. I like this scene a lot because it shows that even after years of trying to get over her death Marcus is still torn up inside about it and we see that under all the medals and honor he holds family above all else. JD and the rest of the squad get to Jinn’s office when the first minister receives a call from none other than Clayton Carmine at Settlement 2 requesting back up for its evacuation efforts due to recent activity at a nearby Locust burial site. JD and his company volunteer to assist in the evacuation attempt with his squad consisting of Del, Augustus “Cole Train” Cole, and Fazh who is very annoyed at the fact that despite him being the commanding officer of this mission JD, Del and Cole, as well as the rest of the C.O.G., would rather follow a Fenix’s lead. The settlement is badly under siege by a whole Swarm army, including some big ugly monsters such as Swarmaks (mutated and more deadly version of the Locust Brumak) and Snatchers (Swarm monsters that pod up humans to turn them into Juvies which eventually become Drones). During this section, we get a little backstory on why JD and Del left the C.O.G. in the first place. Turns out while stationed at Settlement 2 a protest was happening, Fazh and his squad of DeeBees (Damon Baird’s robots for the C.O.G. army, hence the name being his initials “DB”) opened fire on the citizens protesting because they were throwing incendiary grenades at the soldiers and robots. After saving Carmine we see his niece Lizzie who was introduced earlier driving one of her trucks into a snatcher then proceeding to stick a frag grenade to it and shoot at the wave of Swarm drones and scions. Clay thanks his old trainees (JD, Del, and Fazh) for not only saving his neck but his nieces as well only to be attacked by a new type of Swarm monster. A cluster of flying leeches called a “flock”, which looking at them and their effects on Gears and DeeBees are kind of like the kryl from Gears 1 and the Flood from Halo combined.

Separated from the rest of their squad JD, Del and Jack fight their way through Settlement 2 to regroup with more C.O.G. forces also scattered throughout the settlement. Along the way they find out what those leeches do to DeeBees, turning them into wild sentries. They eventually regroup with Marcus and Kait at a theatre not far from the construction hub they saved Clay at and discovered the leeches effects on bigger DeeBees. Let me explain, normal DeeBee foot soldiers, are what’s called DeeBee Shepards, while the bulkier and bigger DeeBees are called DR-1’s. Baird made a lot of designs such as the DeeBee Tracker which can role to enemies and explode, frag’s for killing infantry, shock for handling crowd control, while the Guardians are basically death from above drones that are annoying to try to kill, luckily their all on your side. While under lech control they dawn a different name and function, DeeBee Shepards are called “rejects” and are tough to kill, I advise stealthily taking their batteries from their backs or if things get noisy, use the chainsaw on your lancer. Leach infected DR-1s are called “stumps”, and are stationary sentry turrets, and can take a lot of bullets, stun it with flashbang grenades or just hit them with explosives if available, but whatever you do stay low when they shoot at you because they will tear you up. Guardians become “sentinels” and have no offensive capabilities, they instead float around an infantry unit and supply them with shields, shoot them down before you even think about shooting at whatever infantry is driving you nuts. Back on track, Delta fights their way through the theater eventually regrouping with Fazh and Cole, who comes running in with a Swarmak on their tails. Delta fends it off while Cole gets a little surprise prepared for it, he drove a motorcycle with active frag grenades attached to it into the Swarmaks mouth. Now it has as Cole put it “A MOUTHFUL OF BOOM”, that the player has to shoot at. After defeating the Swarmak, Del and Fazh have a bit of an argument about the incident at Settlement 2 mentioned before, when Fehz revealed that he was just following orders, and guess who was in charge back then. No one is perfect, and obviously, JD is no exception, he’s only human and regrets what he’s done in the past. After this realization, the squad is attacked by a horde of Swarm with not one, not two, but 3 Swarmaks and a whole lot of ticked off drones and scions. JD sees no other option except for using the Hammer of Dawn and tells Baird to track his armor as guidance for the satellite, Baird was reluctant to do so because if he fires it he could lose control of the Hammer and kill more humans still in the settlement than Swarm. Despite all of the risks Baird also knows that it’s the only option and proceeds to fire the Hammer, after destroying the Swarm forces pining Delta and Lizzie’s evac convoy down, Baird loses control of the Hammer and winds up-leveling the settlement, hundreds more are now dead, including Lizzie who was still in her truck once the laser hit it. Unlike Gears 4 which introduced the Swarm, and painted them as just another enemy to fight, Gears 5 paints them as a threat to humanity, and I like that.

4 months after the Hammer incident we see Del, Kait, and Jack take a trip to an outsider village which rests near the remains of the dead Riftworm that Marcus, Baird, Cole, and Marcus’ best friend Dominic Santiago (R.I.P. Dom) killed in Gears 2 way back in 2009. Kait and Del are there to convince the last alone outsiders to enlist in the C.O.G. so that Humanity can have a better chance at survival against the Swarm. The village chief turns out to be Kait’s uncle Oscar Diaz, who after hearing Kait and Del’s argument about the Swarm’s threat he still refuses to join. After the 3 are finished bickering the village is attacked by Swarm hunters, who are sent when the Swarm believes a certain someone or location will be most troublesome. As soon as Kait gets to the entrance that you and Del came from a snatcher appears and takes Kait. Now while inside the snatcher, Kait takes control of multiple Swarm monsters, from juvies, drones, scions, and even the new Warden enemy which uses a new weapon called a breaker mace, as well as an immunity to bullets everywhere on its body but its head. If a Warden classed scion is nearby that means the Swarm is planning on turning a nearby location into a hive to create more abominations of nature. While controlling the Warden, Kait loses control and witnesses something that she could barely bare in Gears 4… Oscar’s death. Marcus and a mysterious figure kill the snatcher freeing Kait, but she has no time for thanks, she has to see her uncle one last time. Her fears have been realized, this is where the scene showed in last year’s announcement trailer took place, and some minor changes happened that aren’t important to this article. JD (now having a shaved head, a new scar, and medical harness for his burned arm [not infected like I last thought]) tries to comfort Kait when Fazh suggests evacuating the village before everyone is done grieving. This ticks Del off and we now see JD’s new attitude, with events still playing out about the same as the announcement trailer. Kait reveals that her grandmother’s necklace bares the not only the outsider symbol on one side, but also the Locust symbol on the other, and decides to leave to get answers. Marcus pushes Jack the coordinates for a secret research station that was first seen in Gears 2 called New Hope, disguised as a shipping facility. Kait and Del can’t take any standard vehicles like a snowmobile, and they can’t take a chopper because Jinn will notice a chopper that isn’t on time, so they take an old skiff that Oscar kept. Now they are on their way to New Hope and find plenty of goodies along the way to help prepare for what’s in the facility. If a facility is kept secret by the government, especially the C.O.G. you know that it’s for a reason, and you know that nothing good lies inside. New Hope ran experiments on children sick with rustlung, a disease that’s caused by direct imulsion expulsion, during the experiments they created sires, which are savage, wild, ticked off, and ugly failed experiments. Luckily during the events of Gears 2, set 27 years before the events of this game, Marcus and Dom cleared them out while searching for intel on a Locust stronghold. Kait and Del were there to find and reactivate Niles Samson, the lead scientist heading the experiments who preserved himself as an A.I. construct before the C.O.G. shut him down. Del and Kait reactivated Niles hoping to get direct answers to Kait’s past but never got the chance to, a flock appears out of nowhere and attacks the main terminal that Niles uses to control the facility. Luckily, Jack was able to pull some files out of the computer and while over half of the files were corrupted they at least got a lead on where to look next, a hidden research station near Mount Kadar, the original Locust HQ deemed Nexus. However (since nothing in this game is done easily) the research station is miles below the ice. Thanks to Baird’s intel on the area, Marcus chimed Kait and Del in on the location of a nearby mine, and a mine means explosives powerful enough to get them into the station. While in the mine, Delta found phosphorus fuel used to power the drilling equipment, perfect for getting under that river of ice, however, more Swarm comes and rain on their parade. Delta fights their way through the Swarm making sure that the phosphorus fuel doesn’t take too much damage, if it does, you can kiss everything in the mine goodbye including yourself. Kait and Del were able to get out alive with the fuel intact, now to blow open the ice and get some answers. Now under the ice and at the entrance to the lab, Kait and Del are unpleasantly surprised to see another Niles Samson construct, this time in a garbage can for a body. In the lab, Kait can get the answers that have been in her head since the beginning. What’s her connection to the Locust? Turns out that Niles and the rest of the scientists at the Kadar labs created the first Locust as their first successful test subjects. But out of all of the failures and successes in the lab, there were two unique specimens, Myrra (or as we know her “Queen Myrra”, leader of the Locust Horde) and a special berserker called the matriarch, which taught Myrra how to communicate with the Locust. But out of all of the creatures in the lab, there was one thing that Myrra loved more than the Locust that she grew up with, and that was her daughter Reyna, Kait’s mother. This was basically the Coalition confirming what we all knew but let’s continue with the Locust origin. Turns out Reyna’s father took her away from the lab and disappeared, Niles tolled Myrra that Reyna was killed during the escape attempt hoping that it would end the matter, but instead, it made things worse. Myrra and the Locust rebelled and killed every human in the lab, then retreated to Mount Kadar living and prospering within the mountain. Kait after learning this has a mental breakdown (and who could blame her, I would be ticked too if some tin can came up to me and said that my grandmother was a genocidal maniac who leads an army of savage monsters), and ordered Niles to sever her connection to the hivemind. Niles complies and leads Delta to the machine that helped Myrra learn how to talk with the Locust and uses it to sever Kait’s link to the Locust/Swarm, during the procedure Niles runs (or since he’s a tin can on wheels, “roles away”) and Del disconnects the machine to save Kait’s life. However, due to her being in the hivemind to disconnect herself from it, Kait accidentally resurrected her mother as Queen Reyna, leader of the Swarm, and awaken the matriarch, which hunts Kait and Del across the lab. Kait and Del chase after Niles, fighting their way through old versions of Locust drones as well as ticked off sires until they finally catch up to Niles, who is soon ripped in half by the matriarch. Kait, Del, and Jack (you think I’m going to forget about Jack?) fight the advanced berserker and kill it, officially severing Kait’s link to the Swarm permanently. Now it’s confirmed, humanity needs the Hammer of Dawn, the problem is more old satellites are hard to find, especially since they were last launched nearly 40 years ago, and the only working ones are in U.I.R. (Union of Independent Republics [practically the soviet union]) territory. Luckily, Baird has an old U.I.R. contact.

A few weeks later, Baird takes Del, Kait, and Jack to an abandoned airbase in the desert country of Vasgar, where they are introduced to Garron Paduk, an old Gorasnian, (basically Russian) and U.I.R. soldier who served in the C.O.G. under Baird during the events of Gears Judgement. After discussing the plan to launch the Hammer satellites with no clue if they’re in the hanger or if they even work, Kait, Del, and Jack all prepare for their task. First, they meet up with Baird to give Jack a new upgrade (which I will be discussing at the end of the story review) then go see Paduk for intel on what the Swarm has been up to since they woke up their new queen. Apparently, the Swarm got a lot smarter, they were more organized, started wearing armor, then invented a new assault rifle, the Claw, which in design kind of resembles the Lancer. Kait and del were just about to leave when a King Raven (C.O.G. chopper) arrives at the airfield, Baird and Delta weren’t expecting company and prepared for Jinn to step out of the chopper eager to tear their ears off, but were a bit surprised to see JD and Fazh get out. They were even more surprised to hear JD apologize for his past behavior and offer his and Fazhs help with Jinn none the wiser (just like old times). Still a bit skeptical, Kait and Del accept his offer and head out for the rocket hanger on their skiff because with the windflare still out and about, getting a chopper out there is suicide. Helping Paduk and his nomads restore their water supply as well as find missing scavenger teams along the way, Delta arrives at the rocket hanger without a clue as to where the Hammer satellites are (or the nose cone that holds them for that matter). While clearing out Swarm soldiers from the station (including a warden) they finally find the nose cone and reattach the two missing satellites of a three satellite nose. Now all they have to do is get the rocket to launch the satellites, no rocket, no Hammer of Dawn. There is one spare rocket on a turntable at the other side of the map, with a Swarm scouting party occupying it so that they can turn it into a hive… until Delta arrives to mop them up and activate the train at the end of the turntable. This turntable, however, had a failsafe where if activated the train would go automatically and to make matters worse, Paduks nomads aren’t responding at the bridge control station they were using to get Delta to the turntable in the first place. It’s a race against the clock now and Delta squad has to get through a windflare, get to the bridge controls and lower the bridge so that the train and the rocket doesn’t explode. Once they arrived they found out that (surprise, surprise) the Swarm had shown up and killed the nomads inside, so they have to clear them out and activate the bridge, the only problem after that is that the controls to the bridge are fried. With no other choice, Kait and Del pick up Rocket Salvos and shoot down the clamps that are holding the bridge in place, (if there’s a problem that can’t be solved by conventional means, blow it up, classic). Now that the train can arrive at the rocket hanger safely, Delta makes its way to another lab in the middle of the map to retrieve U.I.R. Hammer of Dawn beacons. Unlike the C.O.G.’s Hammer of Dawn seized from Aspho Point towards the end of the Pendulum Wars, which can fire at any target given the right coordinates, the U.I.R. Hammer needed a beacon to help map out the area and locate the target that needs to be fired upon. Delta fights their way through the complex to get to the central station and retrieve the beacons, however, they are a lot bigger than expected and not all of them can fit on the skiff, still Baird only needs one to help jumpstart the calibration process that will let these U.I.R. satellites talk to the C.O.G.’s. After receiving a new Jackbot ability Delta is immediately thrown back in action, as the airfield is attacked. Clearing a path and wiping out the attacking Swarm forces, Baird prepares to take the beacon back to his lab in New Ephyra using the Condor that Kait, Del, and Jack came in on, while all of Delta help an attacked convoy of nomads tasked with retrieving the remaining beacons, then head back to the rocket hanger.. Once they arrive, Delta is greeted by two Swarm snatchers as well as a wave of drones and scions, who are not happy about their attempts to launch these satellites, but like always Delta is able to clear out the Swarm that they missed and are able to get the rocket out of the hanger and into the launch station. After initiating the rockets launch sequence, Delta now has to book it off of the launch tower and make it to the extraction point, and just like their luck, a new Swarm monster starts attacking them. This monster is a riftworm mutation called “the Kraken”, which can use its tentacles not only to move around but to spawn out flocks and leeches, it has a lot of tongues that can grab you and tear you apart. Delta makes their way down and out, fighting off (and ticking off) the Kraken to the point where it doesn’t care about the rocket engine now directly above its head. Delta makes it to the King Raven that JD and Fahz arrived on, which is now piloted by Paduk, leaving the Kraken to burn under the rocket’s ignition engines, then head out to New Ephyra so that they can discuss their next move.

Baird and Marcus were already in Baird’s lab with the rest of Delta and Paduk not far behind, ready to see the demo Baird put together for the Hammer of Dawn, however, no one is sure if the Hammer will work, which is why they need a test fire before actively deploying the laser weapon. Marcus decided that the perfect test subject was the Swarm stronghold, another nexus so to speak, and he looks to Kait and asks if she knows where one is, then reveals that Jinn was raising holy heck about getting Kait hooked back up to the hivemind. Good plan if the majority of the hivemind was mindless and only mindless without a queen, but no, it’s not, it’s an evil murdering collective that in its nature lives off violence and can only be guided and not fully controlled. Kait would likely lose control of herself and succumb to the Swarm hivemind, also the only thing that kept her connected to the hivemind (the matriarch) is now dead so Jinn didn’t really put a lot of thought into this plan. As soon as Jinn just walks into the meeting with two Onyx guards at her side, she attempts to arrest Kait for actually being useful and not throw a temper tantrum every time something doesn’t go her way. While the squad and the Onyx guards point their guns at each other the Swarm attack and we are thrust back into the fight, with Clayton Carmine giving us the briefing before we head to the ruins of Jacinto. Fahz and a convoy head out before the rest of the team to help deploy gears into combat, Carmine has to plant his a 20 feet away from the entrance, Paduk needs to plant his in the Tomb of the Unknowns, Marcus needs theirs to be planted at East Barricade Academy, and Cole needs his at Embry Square. Delta fights their way through the entire tons of Swarm soldiers and specialized units as well as sneaking past a swarmak to plant their Hammer of Dawn beacon, clearing out drones, scions, and even a warden so that the beacon doesn’t immediately get shot at, then use the Hammer to kill the swarmak on the other side of the field. Now three of four beacons are planted, Paduks squad just need to plant theirs however there’s a problem, the King Raven holding both the beacon, and Paduks squad, has been shot down so Delta is sent to reinforce, fighting through rejects, scions, drones, sentinels, and a stump to get to him. Once Delta gets to the tomb they are greeted by a ticked off pouncer and plenty of drones. Now that Delta has arrived they need to clear out the stranglers and defend their position. Wave after wave of Swarm drones and scions relentlessly attack in hopes that they can stop you from planting the beacon, not exactly a fair fight, they need at least 20 more drones. With all the Swarm clear and the attack stopped, delta now plants the beacon deeper in the tomb, while Paduk regroups with the first line of New Ephyra’s defense. Kait, Del, and JD defend the beacon using the Hammer of Dawn, because bigger and uglier Swarm monsters than just a bunch of drones and scions attack, now we’re talking. After defending the beacon, a bunch of flocks shows up only now the Hammer is usable without the targeting lasers, and the flocks are all destroyed, however, that Kraken from the rocket station shows up and destroys the beacon. The dust is settling, and Kait has a face to face with her “mother”, Queen Reyna, while JD and Del prepare their knives (the squad lost their weapons after the Kraken came out of nowhere). Seeing Kait in immediate danger, JD and Del attack Queen Reyna with a couple of army knives, but Reyna had too many tentacles to cut off, and she had all three by the throat, now with a knife ready to throw the player has to make a choice, save JD, or save Del. Once you’ve made your choice, Reyna brutally snapped the neck of the character you didn’t save, now you must decide if you can live with that choice. I don’t know about you guys but I saved JD first mostly because Marcus has lost so much in his life, his best friend, his best buddy, his parents, and even his wife, I feel like taking his only son from him is just wrong and more monstrous than anything the Swarm can do. Depending on who you save can change only one scene drastically, and we’ll get to that later but for now, let’s get back to finishing this story. Kait, Jack, and JD/Del are now trapped under a building and are looking for a way out of the ruble, they nearly died until Cole piloting a giant robot showed up to lift a crumbling wall off of them, now they have to regroup with Marcus and the squad that he’s reinforcing, clearing out Swarm on the way, with JD/Del obviously angry and motivated to kill as many Swarm has he can. Once you regroup with Marcus and clear out a platoon of Swarm, we see how Marcus reacts to JD or Del’s death depending on who you save. If you saved Del, you see Marcus more broken and sad, grieving for his son’s death, barely motivated to fight even more, on the flip side if you saved JD, we see the father in Marcus as he tries to comfort JD in his time of suffering as Marcus went through the same thing. Marcus lost his best friend toward the end of the Human Locust war, when Dominic Santiago sacrificed himself so that Marcus and the rest of the old Delta squad can get to Azura and activate Adam Fenix’s superweapon (that doesn’t affect humans, only creatures tainted with imulsion) and to honor Dom’s memory gave his only son the name James Dominic Fenix (hence the initials JD Fenix, but back on track). Fahz shows up moments later in a Minotaur pickup truck and learns of JD/Del’s death the hard way. Nobody is taking it well, but New Ephyra is still in danger, so Delta packs up in the Minotaur and heads to the last lines of defense. They stop to help a C.O.G. defense point to hold off the Swarm, and a swarmak when Cole shows up from behind as energetic as ever in his robot suit, pummeling the swarmak, however, there is no time to celebrate as that Kraken shows up from underground and tears Coles robot suit in half, with Cole believed to be dead (keyword, “believed”). Delta retreats to the final wall protecting New Ephyra, with Carmine helping with the defense effort, with the Kraken not far behind. Delta makes their last stand on the wall, but the Kraken refuses to die, Jack sees no other choice but to take a page out of JD’s book and broadcast Hammer of Dawn firing coordinates on his own position and flies straight into the Kraken’s mouth. Four Hammer beams drop from the sky inclosing on the Kraken and officially killing it, leaving nothing left, not even Jack. Delta then group up in celebration, with Paduk arriving with an injured Cole over his shoulder. Kait joins the rest of the team and Marcus said that Reyna will be back with Kait ending the game saying “but not if we find her first” ripping off her necklace. This war is not over, it has only just begun. All and all the story was fantastic in my opinion and definitely a step up from the last one, writing didn’t feel like a 12-year-old wrote it and it actually portrays the Swarm as a threatening enemy, and Jack’s abilities were very useful in certain situations. Such abilities include a sonar ping, a flashbang ability, a stim which lets you take less damage and heal up in a push of a button, a shock trap, a cloak, a hijack ability letting Jack control certain Swarm monsters, a shield generator, and a grappling hook so that Jack can bring weapons and ammo to you. The verdict for the story is a 10/10 from me. (Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzBfhE9D-VU )

 

Multiplayer

 

The multiplayer is more or less the same as previous installments. Two teams (C.O.G. vs. Swarm) enter a symmetric arena that is filled with weapons and duke it out to see who comes out on top. You’ve got your standard Team Deathmatch, where players only have to deplete the other teams redrawn pool while keeping your own up, King of the Hill where players must take control of a certain location in a given time frame before the hill moves, War zone where players only have to eliminate the enemy team, Execution where players can’t die unless getting dismembered, and guardian where players must protect their leader while killing the enemy leader. Most of the time that means blind fire smoke grenades everywhere or hip fire shotguns at point-blank, which always got on my nerves back in the day. Luckily the Coalition added a new game mode called Arcade Deathmatch where the two 5-man teams spawn in with only a pistol, assault rifle, and support grenade type that’s tied to the character you pick as well as what weapons you can spawn. In Arcade Deathmatch players must pick their characters and compete in a one-round match for 50 points, the first team to reach this goal wins the game, you spawn out with a certain loadout depending on your character and if you get enough kills you can spawn a new toy to aid your teammates, these spawns are also tied to a certain character and you only get three picks. Rack up the kills, get better weapons, race to 50 points, simple as that. While the multiplayer had a bit of a rocky start, it’s still fun as heck to play, with a wide variety of weapons to get your hands on and see what works best for you. All and all, 10/10

 

Escape

 

Escape is the new game mode that the Coalition advertised at E3 this past summer. Essentially, three players deemed “Hive Busters” infiltrate a Swarm hive equipped with nothing but their pistols and have to fight their way out of the hive, picking up weapons and ammo as they go. The first three hive busters were a support character called Keegan, who is equipped with a snub pistol and can resupply the squad’s ammo reserves, Lanhi Kalliso who runs into battle with a Talon pistol and can do extra melee damage, Mac who comes equipped with a Boltock and can generate a personal shield. Ammo is scarce so make every shot count, I would also advise that you play with a team you can trust because otherwise you might be separated and left behind. This is a great game mode if you want to cooperate with your friends to ensure that you do escape. Everyone was excited to see how this game mode played 10/10 (Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3ceoeubxxQ ).

 

Horde

 

What more can I say about a game mode called “Horde mode”, it’s a survival game type where you and/or your friends have to survive wave upon wave of monsters with guns. Like Escape and Arcade deathmatch, a certain character has a certain loadout tied to him/her as well as an ultimate ability that can turn the tide of the fight, and a class system similar to Gears 4. The only major inclusions is that you can play as Jack with fewer abilities and the personal perk system. In between waves you have at least 30 seconds to grab some extra power for upgrading your character, or adding to the fabricator to put up some defenses, and certain characters can produce certain things. The most prominent things any character who isn’t an engineer can produce is weapons and explosives, barriers and decoys to slow down the enemy while engineer characters can produce all of that and then some, from turrets to weapon lockers, to even upgrading all of the above, word to the wise, get an engineer on your team. To sum it up Horde is phrased like this, outnumbered, outgunned, and overrun, just the way we like it. Can you survive all 50 waves? 10/10 ( trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BvX-sirXR8 )

 

Customization

 

Gears 5 ramped up the customizability of the game but not exactly the quality of some of the items, seriously do we really need Marcus in gold armor and gold guns, I didn’t think so. While some of these items are cool in their own way, I can’t help but feel like the emotes are just useless, I don’t think I wanted to hear a Swarm drone say “thanks” to anyone at any given time so I just never use emotes and expressions. Weapon skins are a bit 50/50, some of them are really cool and give neat effects, but others kind of look out of place for a game like Gears, I don’t think anyone will take you seriously if you’re using a lancer with a unicorn and rainbow on it, they’ll probably just laugh at you as they try to shoot you. On the plus side you can now customize how you can execute a helpless enemy with that certain weapon in hand, as well as what the blood spray looks like when you execute them, take for example that you launch an enemy player across the map with your torque bow, the spray that the victim will leave behind could possibly be in the shape of a heart or peace sign (so now you are killing your enemy with love). As a feature, Gears has always let you spot hidden enemies to help give away their location but the symbol above their head was always this bland circle, not in this game. Now if you spot an enemy it could be all kinds of shapes, from the symbol of playing cards to the radioactive symbol, now your friends will know exactly who spotted who. You can unlock all of these by completing a challenge in the “Tour of Duty” (which is basically like a battle pass), which can give you weapon and character skins, expressions, executions, spot symbols or iron which you can use to buy more of that at the shop, or you can level up and get them through supply drops. You can also get iron faster by, guess what, microtransactions. I know I know the same old song and dance about how bad microtransactions are and how they’re useless to the gameplay but at least their cosmetic only (none of that pay to win bull crap here). 6/10

 

Map Maker

 

While it’s still in beta mode I did get a feel for what Gears 5’s new map editor/maker mode is. Essentially you have a blank canvas that you can fill with rooms spanning and differing in shape and size. If you’ve played DOOM (2016)’s snapmap mode, this is basically what that is except the map canvas is always 2D. All and all this is a cool idea and I’ve heard that it will be used for Escape, Horde, and Versus so that you can mess around with the tools and then see how your friends like it. I haven’t messed around too much on it but I can see the potential this mode can have on the community, I hope it has more to offer in the future. 8/10.

 

Promotion

 

After E3 way back in June, Microsoft has been aggressively advertising this game, you could see ads everywhere you look, on Oreo boxes, at a movie theatre, on the YouTube ads, on the Xbox live feed, you couldn’t walk around the corner without seeing at least one form of Gears advertisement and I think that’s what gave it it’s success. Aside from the ads, you saw about the game they’ve gone as far as to promote other franchises by including their characters in the game. At E3 we saw a cinematic trailer where a robotic foot crushes a skull later to be revealed as a T-800 Terminator holding a Lancer, similar to the opening scene of Terminator 2. This was not only the Coalition promoting the new Terminator Dark Fate movie but revealing that the Terminator will be in the game. They even went as far as to track down Linda Hamilton (The original actress of Sarah Connor in the first 2 Terminator movies) to voice lines in the game as, guess who, Sarah Connor. The guest characters don’t stop there, during the Horde trailer (link above) the Coalition revealed that Kat and Emile from Halo Reach will be added to the game with their own weapon skins, and the original voice actors. I am not kidding. These guys went through the effort to find Alona Tal (Kat) and Jamie Hector (Emile) to voice these two spartans in Gears 5. Think I’m done? THINK AGAIN!!! Because if you thought adding the T-800, Sarah Connor, Kat, and Emile to Gears 5 was crazy, get ready for Dave Bautista from the WWE becoming an unlockable character skin for Marcus Fenix. Apparently, Batista (how you spell his stage name in the WWE) has been wanting a role as Marcus Fenix in a Gears of War movie since 2007 and got at least most of his wish granted by being in Gears 5 wearing Marcus’s armor. The promotion goes even farther than that as Batista walked into the WWE ring in replica C.O.G. armor to announce that he was being added to Gears 5. What’s that I hear you readers saying? “Who is Batista and why is this a big deal?” Well like I said Batista wanted a role as Marcus in a Gears of War movie but he was actually a big deal even before he started acting. Turns out he was a mixed martial artist and bodybuilder way before he was a WWE superstar and he acted in movies like the recent Stuber movie, as well as landing a role as Drax the Destroyer from Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy. To unlock him you simply have to play Gears 5 between September 15th and October 28 so hurry up and play before it’s too late.

Terminator Dark Fate – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrdRMMALDqE

Halo Reach – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC3bJUi6Ess

Dave Bautista – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRujSjWhyV0 

 

Conclusion

 

That about sums up this article. My final verdict for Gears 5 is a solid 9/10 with a seal of approval. The microtransactions are really what dragged this game down for me as they have no place in gears or gaming in general and most of the customization is just ridiculous. Everything else I don’t mind and would advise you at least try and with that I’m done. Tell me what you guys think, did you like the game, hate it, do you want to get it but want to check with outside sources first before you decide? What do you think? Gears 5 is available on Xbox One, Windows 10, and Steam. Until then I’m going to go play the game and get some practice in, one more thing, welcome to the C.O.G.! (Launch trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCvLR6wBJ_U )

 

“If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.”

-unknown