Gears 5 (Xbox One) Review

By Albert Lichi 20.09.2019 5

Review for Gears 5 on Xbox One

The original Gears of War was a huge trend setter back in 2006. While it was not the first cover-based shooter, it absurdly popularized the gameplay mechanics to the point where almost every third-person shooter of the seventh console generation had to have it. Thanks to simple and easy to pick-up controls, robust online gameplay, and unbelievable visuals for its time, it naturally became Microsoft's juggernaut alone with Halo. After a few sequels, Epic Games moved on from the guts and glory of Gears of War and the series creator, Cliff Bleszenski would have eventually left game development altogether after his misfires when going solo. With The Coalition taking over with Gears of War 4, they more or less proved that the formula to making these titles is as standard as can be in the eighth gen. With Gears 5, The Coalition took bold steps in mixing things up, by not only dropping the 'of War' suffix from the title, but also making some gameplay changes. Cubed3 takes cover as, Gears 5 makes the most out of the Xbox One X.

It is pretty amazing the gears of war are still turning after more than 10 years since the original Gears of War debuted on the Xbox 360. Since then, not much has changed in terms of gameplay. Gears 5 still relies on the tried and true method of putting a beefy character in arena-like locations, full of waist high blockades, using tactical manoeuvring of going from cover to cover, and tactically flanking monster guys until they're melted by bullets or chainsaw. This kind of action is so pure and streamlined that there really is not much that can be done to improve it. That did not stop The Coalition from trying... for better or worse.

At some point the gaming community was duped into believing that the franchise's story was anything more than a sub-par straight-to-video tier story that rips off Warhammer. The hoo-rah jarhead marine vibe was very much a product of its time when the first entry came out. Over time it did try to mature itself over the years with the sequels by diving deeper into the characters, but there was no escaping that this was always a story about sci-fi generic military fighting bland Unreal Engine monsters. Starship Troopers this is not. The protagonist of Gears 5 is Kait, an utterly forgettable nothing of a character who has no defining traits or qualities other than the fact her mom died. She is worse than JD from Gears of War 4, who was intensely plain, but had the distinction of being the son of Marcus Fenix, who was the hero of the first three games.

Marcus has always been a favourite because of his attitude and exceptional and guttural performance by John DiMaggio. Kait is phoned in by Laura Bailey who comes off as extremely melodramatic and is rarely likeable. It is understandable that she is destined to become a locust queen at some point, but in order to get people to sympathize with a character, it helps if they care about them. She is written as snarky and insincere - desperately trying to sound cool, but comes off more as the way edgy teens interpret themselves as so.

Screenshot for Gears 5 on Xbox One

For the first time in the series history, Gears 5 manages to maintain a high 60fps on a console, without compromising the visual fidelity the franchise is known for. Seeing the gore of orc-like monsters getting vivisected splatter across the screen like a Jackson Pollock painting with such fluidity, truly enhances feedback. These kind of canned animations and brutal kills is what helped Gears of War stand out from the countless imitators that would follow and they are more beautiful than ever - like a ballet of arterial spray and flurry of bone chunks. Heads pop like watermelons stuffed with too much dynamite when fired at with a Gnasher, covering Kait with a layer of thick jellied blood, and it all plays out more smoothly than ever before.

Then there's the addition of the upgradable robot companion "Jack," which operates less like a squad member, but more like an extension of the player-character's abilities. This autonomous drone can be commanded in ways to help turn the tide of battles by stunning foes that have taken up residence behind a strategically placed wall, or even temporarily blind them. He's got a very basic skill-tree that can be upgraded by finding various components hidden away in Gears 5's vast levels, which does help give some variety from all the constant cover-shooting.

Sometimes the exploration is taken to absurd lengths since this entry features the largest mass of land to cover - so much so that some sections require a vehicle to traverse. This is filler, and not the tasty kind found in Twinkies. These are enormous stretches of nothing that look beautiful, serve no purpose other than to pad out what is already the longest entry in the franchise, with gameplay that is already as streamlined as possible. Even with the superfluous skill-tree for jack, hidden collectibles, the open-ended locations... it all feels necessary. Gears 5 is in a weird place for its campaign design. The core mechanics and gameplay loop are not substantial enough for a single-player game, and work best in the confines of multiplayer and arcade-like action.

If there is one thing Gears 5 is good for, its being an exceptional multiplayer action game. Even the dull story is livened up thanks to the split screen co-op, a feature that is woefully absent from most 3D action games today. The amount of modes and ways to play with friends is a welcome since most multiplayer options in similar games are typically stuck behind a paywall. The amount of content present here is what should be considered standard. The online functionality does come with its initial growing pains as usual, which is frustrating like lobbies that take forever to find a match up, and the typical bugginess that comes with six boys running around with various connection speeds, in a title that already has its fair share of glitches. It's a satisfying package of content with mostly stimulating gameplay.

Screenshot for Gears 5 on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The story is far from high art and is much too self-serious to be amusing. Gears 5's plot fails to entertain in most regards, since the majority of the characters are flat and unlikeable, with the exception of Del who had some personality by way of being optimistic, and having the funnier lines of dialogue. Much of the dude-bro persona that the Gears of War franchise had has evaporated by now, and nobody even smokes anymore. Characters are much less crass and vulgar than they used to be, and they all take themselves too seriously in a story with kaiju-sized monstrosities. There has been a noticeable neutering of characters since The Coalition got its mitts on Gears, and it has come at the cost of likability. The developer has done an admirable job of maintaining the core of Epic Games' legacy, yet they have been unable to truly improve upon it. It is still the same cover-shooting action it has always been. Still satisfying and very crunchy.

Developer

The Coalition

Publisher

Xbox Game Studios

Genre

Shooter

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Dart (guest) 24.09.2019#1

" Much of the dude-bro persona that the Gears of War franchise had has evaporated by now, and nobody even smokes anymore."

Uh, can you remind me when someone smoked in a gears game? Or are your referring to a a random character in maybe Jugdgement? 

Maybe get your facts straight before making things up.

steele9 (guest) 24.09.2019#2

so in a nut shell sinking city is better than gears 5..hmm u serious

Akuma (guest) 24.09.2019#3

Perfect review. The worst gears ever!

X360 >  xbone

PapelHigienico (guest) 24.09.2019#4

The author of this article has done an admirable job of trying to imitate unbiased, serious journalism, yet he has been unable to truly achieve it. It is still the same bullshit review he has always done. Not satisfying at all, however, and very ridiculous.

4/10

steele9 (guest) said:
so in a nut shell sinking city is better than gears 5..hmm u serious

different authors, different reviewers.

PapelHigienico (guest) said:
The author of this article has done an admirable job of trying to imitate unbiased, serious journalism, yet he has been unable to truly achieve it. It is still the same bullshit review he has always done. Not satisfying at all, however, and very ridiculous.

4/10


you mistake me for a journalist. that is your fault.
im not a journalist, i just review games.

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