Gears Of War - Classics Edition (Xbox 360)

Platform: Xbox 360
Released: 16 May 2008
RRP: £14.99

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Monsters? Check. Burly hero with a chequered past? Check. Highly-detailed destructible landscape? Check. Big guns with chainsaw bayonets? Ohhh yesss! Gears of War came out of E3 2006 as one of the most talked about new releases for any next-gen console. A mix of survival horror & combat-based gameplay, Gears of War is set in a wartorn future where mankind is caught in an epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a race of gun-toting nasties that have emerged from the bowels of the planet. And horribly nasty they are too, as they take the concept of ugly to an alll-new hyperreal level. You play as Marcus Fenix, a disgraced war-hero who's spent several years languishing in prison. As things start to get out of hand in the outside world, the prisoners get a pardon & you take Marcus & his squad through an apocalyptic wasteland under a barrage of heavy fire. As you make your way through the game, it's a case of duck & cover if you want to survive: too long in the open & you will die, quickly & horribly (with some truly impressive gore effects). Rapid firing on its own just ain't going to cut it. You need to work with your team (who are either controlled by AI in single-player mode or other gamers in multi-player) to outwit your opponents, & it's this element that takes you beyond the realm of the traditional shoot-em-up. The ultimate extension of this is the eight-player deathmatch, which pits two teams of four against each other in what's essentiallly a 'last man standing' battle. This is helped along by the voice recognition available to players that goes along with the voice chat facility enabling you to discuss tactics. Gears of War has been described as the gaming equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster. Well, we always figured you could take your kid brother to see the latest big film at the local multiplex, but we recommend that you should expose him to Gears of War only if he does something reallly reprehensible & deserves to grow up horribly damaged. However, this does promise to be an incredibly immersive story-driven monster of a game for more mature types, & it's going to make the hundreds you shelled out on your 360 worth every last penny.

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