“I want to chainsaw someone!” Those were the frustrated words out of my sister’s mouth as she sat back in her chair and readjusted her grip on the Xbox One controller. This is the type of phrase you might hear when you sample a gaming session of the gory, bullet-brazen, Gears of War 4.
My sister and her husband traveled to stay with me and my wife last weekend to take a break from the fast pace of their lives. It was time for a change of scenery and they wanted to relax away from the stress of being at home (some of my “working adult” peeps know what I’m talking about). They had planned on checking out the local scene by exploring downtown and nomming on some street food. However, I am not sure they had accounted for the amount of time spent reliving their gaming pastimes on an Xbox One.
The Gears of War series – or “Gears” for short – has been a gaming staple in our household since I was in high school – or at least for my sisters and me. I could try to take credit for influencing them to love such an amazing game, but the idea of wielding a gun, affixed with a mounted chainsaw, really sells itself. In addition, I believe Gears transformed my relationships with my siblings for the better. It went from being something that distanced me from family for countless hours, to something we could fully engage in and enjoy together. So why all this hype about Gears of War? I’m glad you asked.
Gears of War is a third-person shooter that is set in the fictional world, Sera, where the human alliance, COG (Coalition of Gears), are fighting against hordes of sentient creatures, called the “Locust” race, who have emerged from the planet’s surface (Gears 4 later introduces the “Swarm”). The game spotlights a ragtag team of burly, meat-and-potato types who destined themselves to save the world by means of activating a Lightmass bomb at the heart of the Locust dwelling. This was the kind of storyline that definitely resonated with my teenage self.
The game really set itself apart from others when it hit the shelves in 2006. For starters (and as previously hinted), the primary weapon used by the main protagonists, called the Mark II Lancer Assault Rifle (“Lancer” for short), is fitted with a functioning chainsaw bayonet, which is used to grind an enemy down to a pulp …
How sick is that? I mean come on, a bloody chainsaw gun!
Moreover, Gears was also one of the first to successfully execute and deliver a polished cover system within a shooter (honorable mention going out to Metal Gear Solid). Having the ability to use objects in an environment as cover for both stealth and strategy in a fast-paced gunfight, gave this gaming title a completely different dynamic. It felt new and refreshing, which contrasted with the typical gameplay of another Halo or Call of Duty.
The multiplayer experience is what really drew me in, though. I loved being able to play with people from different parts of the world, who wanted to stack their skills up against mine. It made me want to be better at it and not only that, but I wanted to utterly destroy my opponents. I dug my heels deep into the game, learning the techniques of pop-shotting with the Gnasher shotgun, drag scoping with the Longshot sniper, and mastering the skillful art of wall bouncing.
Check out this Gnasher shotgun tutorial for those of you who are curious
One day, a random player in a public lobby asked me to team together and compete in GameBattles, a competitive gaming community. When I agreed, we immediately started recruiting other teammates and hopping into games with the intention of rising to the top of the leaderboards. This eventually became a social circle of gamers who hung out with one another online, often in different time zones. We won some, lost some, but overall had a blast doing it.
For me, Gears was all about the satisfying sound of landing a headshot, or the massive hype from your teammates when you body three people with the shotgun in a clutch situation, or laughing hysterically at someone’s poorly placed pun. The memories from those days are the foundation to a Gears of War legacy that is still alive in me today, and Gears will forever hold a high place in my “hall of games.”
Whether it be with my siblings, friends online, or just by myself, Gears has proven itself over and over to be a timeless, competitive, yet social game. Here’s to another great year of chainsaw revving and roadie running!
Stay tuned for a new blogging series recounting the adventures my wife and I had in Italy this past summer.