|System: Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: The Coalition|
|Pub: Microsoft Studios|
|Release: October 11, 2016|
|Players: 1-10 Players and Online Multiplayer|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
I was impressed with the visuals right from the menu screen. With massive head profiles of JD, an aged Marcus, Kait, and other characters, the physical details such as battle wounds and imperfections, as well as subtle facial expressions, really gave the characters... well, character. I also paused here and there to scan the well thought-out designs of both the modern and historical architecture of the fictional world of Sera. Most of the dedicated cinematics and quick time event scenes are rife with explosions and plenty of action, yet still maintain a smooth framerate. Some of the in-game cutscenes, however, offer a distinct graphical counter, with character models noticeably poorer in quality. Also, something just wasn't pouring properly with many of the liquid effects. Things like blood spewing from odd places and sawing through a wall of "snot" just aren't given much treatment in the way of lighting and shaders, and it shows.
You likely won't remember any of the music score, and maybe even question outside of the game whether there was much music at all. The Coalition apparently opted for subtlety with the orchestration, but it works. With only ambient noises and the occasional distant reverberation from an approaching enemy, there is a constant unease as you navigate through claustrophobic hallways and around shadowy corners. Every door that gets kicked open offers the chance of a lunging surprise from a snarling beast, sure to make you keep your Lancer revved up. When your squad is scattered around a room unloading rounds, if you can slice through the cacophony of noises you'll likely be impressed with how well the audio team nailed the distance and direction of each individual sound coming through your stereo or surround speakers.
Gears of War is a tone-setting franchise for Microsoft, and clearly one they would like to enjoy continued success with as the paragon of third-person cover shooters. Gears of War 4 provides an introduction to a team and a new threat that will hopefully see more rising action in the story as the sequels come. It does, however, stay true to the gameplay mechanics of its predecessors, and provides countless hours of rewarding multiplayer options. The Gears faithful should rejoice, as a new saga is just getting lubricated.
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: October 11, 2016