This past six weeks, I’ve become kind of obsessed with Gears of War. I played the first game remastered on Xbox One, then proceeded to play the second and third games on my Xbox 360 — all co-op.
Each game has strengths and weaknesses. Some missions were really hard to get through. One game in particular has rough mechanics, not because of the way the controls are set up, but because of the way the game runs.
Rather than review all the games, I’ll just list what I loved and didn’t love about each of them!
(Also, I’m leaving out Judgment because I just started it last night, and it’s so different than the other games — like, even the controls are different — that I wouldn’t compare it to these three.)
Gears of War 1
- Interesting locations
- Intriguing story
- Very challenging gameplay (I died so many times)
- Lots of dependence on your co-op partner to revive you when you’re down (AI teammates Baird and Cole just don’t care about you, I guess)
- Lots of splitting paths in co-op (which made it harder, because your partner can’t revive you)
Bottom Line: The original Gears of War is beautiful and brutal.
Gears of War 2
- Lack of variety in the locations — most are underground with no daylight
- Very sticky controls; I could barely aim most of the time
- Deeper character development, particularly with Dom (my character in co-op!), but…
- Dom’s character development hinges on the old trope of the woman he loves dying
- Lots of fighting from vehicles and mounts, which is hectic and difficult (I even lowered the difficulty to Normal in the second act, and got dizzy numerous times when shooting at flying Reavers)
Bottom Line: Gears of War 2 is a clunky, tiring game.
Gears of War 3
- Fantastic, varied locations (the desert is my favorite)
- Return to (mostly) cover-based shooting, rather than relying too heavily on vehicular or mounted combat (or similar gimmicks)
- Two new female characters (I got to play as Anya!)
- More character development, particularly with Cole (really funny moments there)
- Emotional moments and twists that played out well (no spoilers!)
- Satisfying story and conclusion
- Always getting saved by your AI teammates when you’re down (which makes the game feel easier than Gears of War 1, because your co-op partner can keep fighting instead of worrying about you)
- Tedious final boss battle
Bottom Line: Gears of War 3 delivers a satisfying story with memorable characters, settings, and combat.
Overall, I would say the original game is the strongest. It just gets everything right and sets the tone for the rest of the series. However, Gears of War 3 delivers a much deeper experience when it comes to characters and story, which is why I love it the most.