Steve's Nutshell Reviews: Gears Of War

gearsrating-4.5Game Type: Tactical Third-Person Shooter (Rated M for "Mom May Not Like This")
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher / Developer: Microsoft Game Studios / Epic Games


Okay, so if you don't know anything about this game then I implore you to read up on it HERE . I don't have time or space to go over every detail and rehash what thousands of other reviewers have said. Simply put, Gears of War is one of the best video games ever released. Ever. I don't care if you think PCs are superior or that consoles are more fun, Gears of War is the kind of game that would kick ass on either (Dunno about a Mac... Who cares? I suppose it would look nice). It's the kind of game that takes a hold of you and owns you for a long, long time.


Basically Gears is the kind of game that has a great story, great game-play and fantastic voice acting. The immersion value alone is worth every penny. The sights, sounds and action will make you feel like you are there, being pwned on by the Locust. Make no mistake, this game is no cakewalk. One of the first things you run-and-gunners will learn about as quick as a hypersonic round through the brain is that cover is your friend. No, more than your friend. Cover is your intimate life-mate. Hump cover as much as freaking possible and you'll be alright. The neat things is that the game is designed so that you have to take cover as much as possible, allowing for actions that involve hunkering down behind walls, doorways, rubble, your mom, or whatever in a variety of ways (and you can either aim, exposing yourself more or blind-fire... brilliant!). The weapons are extremely satisfying, as are the enemy deaths. Speaking of the enemy, the Locust are no slouchy mofos. They WILL take you down if you aren't careful. Kudos to Epic for programming great AI.


This is a nutshell review, so I can't get into everything, but if you are looking for a game that looks right, feels right and sounds right, as well as allowing you to kick mucho tail, this is it. Although I could have just shot the crap out of Locust all day on foot, there are turrets (called Troikas) and vehicles (and mine carts) to change things up a bit.

No game is perfect, however, and even though Gears of War sports a fantastic story, to-die-for graphics, high quality sound and even excellent multiplayer, it does have it's flaws. First, you can't jump. You can dive, though, which makes it kind of hard when you're trying to dive away from the nigh invulerable Berserkers (who can only be destroyed with an orbital beam weapon you target it with) and you end up taking cover, getting smashed to bits as a result. This is because thesame button for diving is the one for taking cover. Ah, well, a minor annoyance. Then there's the invisible walls. Sometimes, they're a blessing though, because there is terrain that might seem confusing to many players; backtracking and getting lost would totally suck. I still hate invisible walls. In the driving parts of the game you have to stop the vehicle and man the mounted gun (in single player mode). This doesn't seem odd until you realise you have passengers that are of a martial capacity. It kinda blows, but once again it's minor. I also feel there could be a better variety of weapons... I mean, what's the point of new toys if I'm just going to keep using the gun I started with (which is the best weapon in the whole game; and major bonus points for the chainsaw bayonet!). My biggest beef is with the final battle, which (as many have complained) comes too soon. It makes this great game become less great with a typical "Boss Battle" that we've come to expect from games like Metal Gear Solid; except the Boss is WAY easier to kill (and there's no unecessarily zany story surrounding him/her). I felt a bit let down... BUT there will be a couple sequels, so all is not lost. Huzzah!


My gripes aside, Gears kicks some serious ass and if you own a 360 it should be a crime not to posess this remarable achievement of a game. I believe this to be the best thing on the 360 or any of the "next-gen" systems so far. If Halo 3 is as good as Gears of War, then the new Xbox shall own all.

It sure is nice to see a video game live up to all of its hype.


Gamer Recon: F.E.A.R.

rating-4.5fearGamer Recon is where I play a game for little while and then set my judgment upon it. Keep in mind that just because a game might be awesome or sucks in the first couple of hours doesn't mean it is awesome or sucks overall.

Game Type: First-Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Vivendi Games, Day 1 Studios, Monolith Productions
Recon Time: About 2 hours

If you've played F.E.A.R. for the PC, you'd be well aware that it's the best FPS since FarCry. Then it was decided to port it over to the Xbox 360. In many cases, ports such as this lick some nasty ass. I'm please to report that that isn't the case here. To put it simply, F.E.A.R. rocks!

At no point in my first 2 hours playing this great game was I dissatisfied. The action is smooth and heavy. Everything flows nicely and the AI is actually rather devious. The weapons are great and the sounds they make cause me to be very happy. There are frantic moments, but that's a good thing. I read somewhere that changing weapons was clunky or something like that, but I found changing weapons to be a breeze.

Along with all this frenetic combat we are served an excellent story in which you play a guy uncovering a big ol' mystery. As it says in the Wikipedia entry on F.E.A.R.:

"F.E.A.R.'s story details the events following a paranormal crisis that the special forces team 'First Encounter Assault Recon' is called to contain. The player assumes the role of the First Encounter Assault Recon Point Man, gifted with lightning-fast reflexes, as he fights against an army of clone soldiers and their rebellious leader, uncovering at the same time the secrets of the paranormal menace in the form of a mysterious little girl."

That pretty much sums up the story for you. And it's done well, too. The "horror-flash" bits are a nice touch and remind me a lot of The Suffering (which is good). The voice acting is top-notch and like I said: Action. Lots of good action.

The only thing that I was a little "meh" about was the "lightning reflexes" feature. You know, ye olde bullet-time gimmick. I mean, it's executed nicely and everything, but I found little use for it.  I'm sure it becomes more valuable later in the game.

Overall, playing this game for a couple of hours was a great experience. This is probably one of the best console FPS games I've ever played, and I totally plan on playing it some more. Based on what I've seen so far, I have to heavily  recommend this game, especially for you folks out there that are looking for something to hold you over 'yill Halo 3.

And no, I haven't done multiplayer yet, but I hear it's pretty alright.

So, yeah, get this game, dammit.


Gamer Recon: Lord Of The Rings - The Battle For Middle Earth II

rating-3.0lotr-battle2What is Gamer Recon? Well, it's where I play a game for a bit and give my thoughts on it. It could be after 5 hours of play or just 30 minutes. Way I see it is: What the hell is the point of playing a game to completion if it blows nads in the beginning parts? Some games are awesome and then end up sucking, but that's not what Recon Gamer is about. Those games that end up dropping the ball later on will probably be covered in future reviews. Anyways, enjoy!

Type: Real-Time Strategy
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Electronic Arts , EA LA
Recon Time: About 3 or 4 hours

I have done some reading and "they" tend to say Battle for Middle-Earth II is -great- on the Xbox 360.

Holy shit, do I think "they" are wrong.

Okay, so, my initial impressions right off the bat were definitely influenced by the shitty frame rate and stuttering. And that's in the first battle! My little group of pansy elves slamming into weakling bands of goblins... I'd be gettin' all excited, then -FREEZE-. It was a short freeze, but what the fuck? I guess I can understand that the little (and loud) gerbils in the 360 having problems with hundreds of little guys duking it out for a piece of the Classic Fantasy Pie, but frame rate issues and freeze-ups due to dozens? LAME.

Needless to say, I was unimpressed. And that was five minutes into the game.

Also, the game has no helpful hints or anything. You know, like with the controls? Yeah. Good thing I'm kinda smart.

As far as real-time strategy games on a console goes, this game is top-notch (aforementioned issues aside). Well, sort of, anyway. The control scheme does take some getting used to, especially if you are used to the PC. I mean, the last RTS I played on a console was Goblin Commander for the Xbox (a quaint, somewhat amusing game)... and that was like three years ago. But yeah, there's plenty of fun to be had and the controls aren't a real biggie. Gameplay is simple enough and there's some cool heroes and powers to dink around with. There are plenty of creatures and units to keep most gamers who like this kind of thing reasonably pleased.

The graphics scream "For christ's sake, buy an HDTV!!!!" because this will look more like shit than gold on your standard television set. It's not THAT bad, but I hear it looks great in HD (yet another reason to hold off on buying a 360 until you get high-def, eh?). Other than that, they're pretty standard. Exactly what you would expect from a LOTR RTS title.

The story is the run-of-the-LOTR-mill sort that you should fully accept on liking if you are to play this. Depending on which side you play (good or evil), your campaign story will differ. It's nothing to write home about from what I've seen so far (and yes, I -really- like LOTR). I am a bit curious to see how it unfolds game-wise, but not so much story-wise. Not all that exciting.

Perhaps my current opinion is marred by Medieval 2: Total War, now out for the  PC (*drooool* it is SO sex), but I'm having a hard time wanting to keep playing this game. It's not terrible or anything, and it's pretty fun. It's just not even -close- to competing with PC strat-games. Also, the graphics hiccups and glitches piss me off.

I say if you have an Xbox 360 and like Lord of the Rings stuff and wargames, pick this up. If you are a die-hard pc RTS or Strat-gamer sort, you may want to pass on this, or get it for the PC (but it's much like the first LOTR: BFME installment on  the PC). Who knows? Maybe I'll like it a bit more with more play and I do hear the multiplayer kicks some serious ass. Right now, though, I hear the siren call of Total War beckoning me...



faterating-4.5Game Type: Action role-playing game a.k.a. "hack & slash point 'n click-fest"
Publisher: WildTangent

If you like Diablo II, then you'll absolutely LOVE this game. It's very simple and fast-paced and very addictive. It's a lot like Diablo II... so much, in fact, that I'm -really- surprised they were never sued. Be that as it may, I loved this game. You get a pet (like a dog) which you can change into all sorts of cool creatures with fish you find or fish for! Neat! Man, I haven't played this for awhile. I think I'll go play now!