Not owning any of the Xbox consoles myself, I had to wait until the fourth instalment in the series in order to get introduced to the Gears of War universe. So there’s a big possibility that I started playing this game with different expectations than other people who are already fans of the series.
I did have to wait for a couple of days to actually start since the installation weighs in at a hefty 133 Gb download. Once you start Gears of War 4 however you will immediately notice why. The visuals are awesome, accompanied by great sound throughout and the environments vary widely between each act.
In the main campaign, the game puts you in the shoes of the young J.D. Fenix. He travels with his renegade squad to their next encounter, using a cover-based shooting mechanic with a 3rd person view. The team is normally made of four persons, each of the non-playable members acting individually of their own will. They will happily revive you when you mess up, but you will have to do likewise when they are in trouble. A friend can also take control of another team member in local co-op using split-screen or online.
When I look at Gears of War 4, I compare it to the Uncharted series. The gameplay is very linear; take cover behind something, pop out to shoot a few heads, back off again to reload and so on until you clear the wave and push the story forward. Sometimes you can also find collectable items, with a few of them providing background information about past wars.
However, linear gameplay does not make Gears 4 a bad game. It is compensated with incredible set-pieces that will keep you pushing forward just to see what major event will come next, not to mention the overpowered weapons that you can pick up from defeated enemies from time to time. Occasionally you will do something slightly different, like defending your base whilst taking cover and shooting, or driving a vehicle and shooting, or fighting enemies during a windflare with debris flying past you at hurricane speeds.
The punishing boss fights are the final piece that makes up Gears of War 4. Unfortunately, it feels that the game starts getting interesting during the encounter with the final boss. The last act is the point where the game asks you to take a different approach, and ultimately leaves you wanting for more. In conclusion, Gears of War 4 offers a thrilling experience without requiring you to think too much. Even the ammo is scattered all over the place to keep you going. And importantly, having another go from the beginning doesn’t feel boring since the action keeps coming.