Originally released on Xbox 360, the first Gears of War trilogy focused on Marcus Fenix and his ragtag band of COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments)– soldiers referred to as ‘Gears’. The story followed Fenix’s Delta Squad as they fought against the invading army of Locusts, a subspecies of invaders that emerged from the Earth’s core to eradicate humanity and take the planet for themselves.
Considered one of the better third-person shooter games of that generation, the series made a name for itself with a compelling story and unique playing style. By the time Gears of War 3 wrapped, the story had come to such a satisfying and natural end that fans wondered if they would ever visit the fictional world of Sera ever again.
Gears of War 4 was announced shortly after Microsoft Game Studios purchased the rights to the franchise from Epic Games in 2016. Set 25 years later, the story follows Marcus Fenix’s son, JD, and his crew of friends Del Walker and Kait Diaz. Fans were understandably concerned that they wouldn’t get the same experience, but Microsoft and new developer The Coalition proved to be worthy guardians as not only were the continuing story and characters compelling but the gameplay was innovative while keeping the bones of the original structure intact. This trend continues with Gears 5.
The story begins where part 4 ended, focusing on Diaz and her quest to find out where she comes from and what her role is in the escalating second rise of the Locust Horde. Players can still carry an arsenal of 2 heavy weapons, 1 pistol, and 1 type of grenade at any given time, but Gears 5 offers up some impressive fresh options in addition to old favorites.
The events that unfold are some of the best the series has offered. Intense and game-changing decisions could resonate across future chapters, and if Gears 4 was A New Hope then Gears 5 is most definitely The Empire Strikes Back.
Combat is more fluid than ever, and the enemy AI does not allow players to stay comfortable for long as combatants are constantly advancing. The voice acting and sound design also break new ground with a score from Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi making the already great game that much better.
Gears 5 also continues to improve its multi-player options. While mainstays such as Horde mode and PVP are still in place, the game also offers a new mode called Escape where players work together to vacate an overrun base. The regular story mode even has an option that allows a friend to take on the secondary character and play through the events alongside you.
All in all, the game leaves little to complain about. Gears 5 is a worthy successor that leaves fans ready to dive headfirst into the saga’s next chapter.