Gears of War PC DVD
Published by: Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by: Epic Games
Release Date: Out Now
Gears of War was the first Xbox 360 title that produced not only a great single-player experience but a superb online experience too. At the time of its release it was also the best looking 360 title by a long way and there still hasn't been a game released on either the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 that really compares with it from a visual standpoint. Needless to say then the game has been eagerly awaited on the PC. It would have been enough had the game been bought to the PC in exactly the same form that it graced the 360. The fact that there are some extras here such as five extra chapters, new multiplayer maps, a game editor and an extra multiplayer mode is really the icing on the cake.
In Gears of War you’ll play as Marcus Fenix, a prisoner who should have been left to die. However, with the whole planet seemingly in ruins thanks to an enemy known as the Locust Horde, there is a need for soldiers of the highest order to help prevent the human race from impending doom and Marcus Fenix is as good as it gets when it comes to top quality soldiers. Gears of War offers a single-player campaign which can also be played co-operatively over a LAN or Windows Live. There are also a variety of online modes such as, Warzone, Assassination, Execution, Annex and exclusive to the PC version, King of the Hill for up to eight players.
Gears of War is a third-person shooter that is all about making the best use of cover to keep yourself alive. It’s not a run and gun shooter by any means so if you don’t make effective use of cover you’ll be dead within seconds. The use of cover in the game is excellent and best of all you only have to press the A button as it’s used for a variety of context sensitive actions. As well as finding cover with the A button you can roll to evade, perform SWAT turns and do roadie runs (essentially a crouched run). You’ll be using anything you can to find cover in the game and believe me it’s the only way to succeed. Of course there are times when a little close quarters combat is in order and for those intimate moments you have the Lancer Assault Rifle with its Chainsaw Bayonet to literally get to the heart of the enemy as fast as you can. On the subject of weapons (which make very good use of force feedback to add that nice tactile quality to the game), it’s worth mentioning that the weapons in the game are absolutely first class. There are no powder puff efforts here and they all pack a wallop adding to the game’s already superb atmosphere that would put most action movies to shame.
Naturally the PC version allows you to use the keyboard and mouse as your controls, if you wish. They actually work quite well but if you want to use the Xbox 360 controller you'll be happy to know that the game supports it and it feels just like playing on the 360. The PC version of the game includes five additional chapters. These extra chapters feel quite different from the original ones in that they are set in more open areas and the flow of the game doesn't always feel as it should. That's not saying that they aren't good however, because they are it's just that they play out a little differently and occasionally in a less linear fashion. Epic have also provided a Game Editor that allows you to create your own levels. It's also worth mentioning that you are getting all of the downloadable content that was made available for the 360 version on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Before you can play the game you will need to create a Windows Live profile or log in with your existing Xbox Live profile. The game also comes with 50 achievements that are totally separate from those found in the 360 version of the game.
As we said at the beginning of the review, the Xbox 360 version of the game was pretty amazing from a visual standpoint. Naturally you might expect the PC version to look sharper because of the higher resolutions that a PC is capable of but it has to be said that the developers really turned up the overall graphical quality of the game a good notch or two. Of course to have the game looking its best is going to require a hefty PC specification. We certainly couldn't manage to run the game at an acceptable frame rate and had to turn down the graphical settings to make the frame rate tolerable. Those who can run the game in all of its glory are going to enjoy what has to be one of the best looking PC titles to date.
Like the 360 version, the PC version of Gears of War is subtitled. All of the cutscene dialogue is subtitled and all of the important in-game dialogue is subtitled. Some peripheral speech isn’t subtitled but that doesn’t spoil anything as it’s only the odd word here and there. The subtitles are displayed simply using white text. There are no character names or portraits placed alongside the text so at times you might not know who is saying what. There are no captions in the game. Sometimes you can hear the enemy before you can see them. There’s also a particular sound that chimes when the immediate area has been cleared of enemies. These aren’t major problems though, because with the nature of the game you’re always on your guard and it’s usually quite obvious when areas have been cleared. All objectives are shown in text and they can be recalled.
We often criticize games that cross over from a console to a PC. All too often the port is an idle one and we are left with a game that not only insults the graphical capabilities of our PC but also feels us leaving like we have wasted out money. Gears of War has to be the best console to PC port to date. Epic Games have really worked hard to turn this into a PC title and have left no stone unturned in making sure it takes full advantage of all that extra power that a high specification PC has. The extra content is certainly a welcome bonus and even though the extra chapters don't really fit that well with the original levels, they are certainly appreciated. If you haven't yet purchased Gears of War and have a capable gaming PC then this is definitely the version to go for.