The marketing and previews for Gears 5 have been a little under the radar, but what I have seen really tries to get you to believe that it’s a big new revitalization of the series that adds huge open-world levels, RPG elements, and an eye popping custom map builder. However the truth is that none of these new additions feel fully realised and they only serve to prolong the most personality-less Gears of War to date. I have never been an out and out Gears of War fan but I have enjoyed the storyline and the game mechanics in previous instalments. The game mechanics that haven’t dared to change in many years, I might add!
The first act of the story mode had me engrossed. It starts off with you rappelling down a waterfall that’s surrounded by vibrant plant life and beautiful water dynamics. You make your way through decaying builds that fall and crumble around you. The characters’ dialogue and voice acting are of a movie worthy standard. Each character gets their time in the spotlight to showcase their personality, with engaging dialogue, writing, and directing. It’s one of the better opening cinematic stories I’ve seen in a game and it had me gripped in these early stages.
Unfortunately, after a fantastic opening act, Acts 2 and 3 fall way short of what I was expecting. The open world element is literally baron, with little worthwhile content. It's probably the worst open world aspect to any game I have played. The side missions are all very similar and get repetitive fast.
The story and cinematic pieces also wear a little thin in these two middle acts, in contrast to the first act which is a cinematic masterpiece. The final act goes back to the classic Gears formula but falls short in regards to the story and the emotions it is trying to portray. Sure, a lot of the series' story arcs are further explored and explained, but if it was meant to get me excited for the next game in the series, it failed miserably.
Being an RPG lover and having seen some RPG elements subtly advertised, I was sadly left disappointed to find that that these were simple upgrades for your robotic partner. Your robot partner is useful for fetching items that are out of your reach but there are very few opportunities for this. The robot also acts as a support character and is even playable by a third person in your party. This is a nice touch and something different. But that's about as brave as the developers dared to be.
Escape Mode felt repetitive and got boring quickly. Traversing ‘samey’ maps and rushing through the mode feels exciting initially but that feeling doesn’t last long and you end up feeling like you are watching groundhog day. Is Bill Murray a DLC character?
Horde mode has returned but felt incredibly long winded between waves, showing a results screen that hangs around way too long. Only play Horde Mode if you have plenty of time to kill! Expect 50 waves per match.
The map builder feature is in its beta phase and currently it's very basic. I'm hoping for some new additions on this! You can upload maps for others to attempt to play if you wish. I do love map building and it should appear in more games in my opinion. This can put such a great spin on a game and I hope new intricate features are added.
With a not-too-shabby 13 multiplayer maps to choose from, the versus modes have a little variety. These include Warzone, Execution, Dodgeball, and the new Team Arcade. You can play the DLC characters in these modes, but they just mirror some of the other characters, so there aren't any game changing abilities or even unique abilities for them.
Overall, I was expecting a much better game. Act 1 got me pumped that I was going to be playing something special. Yet it falls flat very quickly. But on the plus side, the different game modes are entertaining, and I would like to see more added to the map builder mode in terms of what can be built and adding different game modes, as currently we're limited to the escape mode. This is a game that has no replay ability for me unless playing with friends.
I would give this a 7 out of 10.
Going forward I think they need to try some new ideas to appeal to both Gears of War fans as well as people new to the franchise. Be a little braver and keep the story emotionally engaging until the end. The characters have great personalities that could be used more in their respective character arcs.