by RILEY GOLDEN //ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
Twenty five years after the events of the previous “Gears of War,” a new enemy has risen out of the ashes of the old and JD Fenix is set to follow in the footsteps of his father.
“Gears of War” is a third-person, military/sci-fi video game franchise. In “Gears of War 4,” the player takes control of JD Fenix, the son of Marcus Fenix, the main protagonist in the first three games.
At the end of “Gears of War 3,” Marcus and his Gears (a term for soldiers in the franchise), Augustus “Cole-train” Cole and Damon Baird supposedly defeated the Locust army and buried them deep underground in the diamond hard shells that started forming around their bodies.
Fast forward 25 years and First Minister Jinn is giving a speech to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the Locust war, while Outsiders JD Fenix and his friends Kait Diaz and Del Walker are making their way to an uninhabited COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) settlement that is still under construction. Their plan is to steal a Fabricator, a machine that can fabricate weapons and defenses, for their settlement.
Upon arrival at the settlement, JD is confronted by Jinn and accused of kidnapping her civilians and attacked by DeeBees, an army of COG robots.
I did not enjoy Act I of “Gears 4.” Each chapter pits the player against hordes of robots in a dry, “under construction” environment that doesn’t feel anything like a “Gears of War” game.
It’s not until Act II, when JD and his friends put on the blue-lit COG armor, that it really starts to feel like a “Gears of War” game. Even though players have the Retro Lancer at their disposal, the weapons don’t add to the “Gears” vibe until the Lancer is at the players’ disposal. The Lancer is the series signature automatic rifle that has a chainsaw bayonet, whereas the Retro Lancer has a simple knife bayonet. The semi-automatic rifle, the Hammerburst, has also returned as the enemies’ go-to weapon.
The discovery of the Swarm also adds to that “Gears of War” vibe, because they are basically the familiar, off-white, human-like Locusts, instead of just the robot DeeBees. There are also new enemy archetypes to add to the “Gears” franchise, such as the Pouncers, a large, hardshelled, lizard-like enemy that likes to pounce on the protagonists.
Though I did not find the game fun in the first Act, at this point it is now arguably just as fun as the first three games. However, the campaign could’ve been an act or two longer.
That being said, my favorite feature on “Gears of War 4” is the ability to play split-screen cooperative campaign. This is a feature that too many current generation games lack. The developers did very right by me for adding this feature.
Horde mode has also returned to the “Gears” franchise, which basically gives the player the ability to play with up to three other people to try to survive wave after wave of enemies.
Of course, multiplayer returns with extremely fun modes such as Team Deathmatch and a very fun take on Team Deathmatch called Dodgeball—the goal is to kill every opposing teammate, and every kill brings a player back to life.
I do not think that this game is the best one since the original like many critics are claiming, but it is fun. And it earns the right to be a part of the “Gears” franchise. I give “Gears of War 4,” 4 out of 5 stars.