How familiar are you with the gear wars exactly?
With the long-awaited release of the fifth installment in the franchise, it may feel like a good time to brush up on everything that came before. But that can be a daunting task — and a little bit of overkill, considering how much the series has evolved in recent years.
The new campaign brings a fresh perspective, but also embraces what makes Gears so recognizable. The story is a familiar mix of action and sci-fi, with a little more nuance than some might expect. Baird isn't Fenix, but he's still a tougher-than-life action hero with just enough of a jerk factor to keep things from getting too sappy.
Meanwhile, the game takes place on a planet that seems to be covered in a giant mechanical surface (though it might actually be made of metal). It's populated by Gear People, robots that have genders, age and feelings. They live in societies, and when a Gear dies they hold a funeral, complete with a priest saying phrases like "in nomine Patris et Fili, et Sanctus Gearitus." They also keep twigs of the deceased in their homes, so that if they ever need to connect to the hivemind again, it will be easier if they have a reminder.
But the multiplayer is where Gears 4 really shines. The new five-player Horde mode is a solid mix of tower-defense and pure action, and it offers plenty of thematically appropriate gameplay surprises. Killed enemies drop resource chits that can be collected and deposited into the Fabricator - your mobile emplacement builder, basically - to erect fences, sentries, turrets and other defensive structures, as you fight through 50 waves of DeeBee and Swarm foes.