Gears of War didn’t need another sequel–series creators Epic Games were ready to walk away from the bloated, cartoonishly masculine third person shooter. Microsoft was not. They bought the rights to the series and handed it off to one of their subsidiary studios, The Coalition. If this sounds familiar, it’s because a very similar thing happened when Bungie grew tired of producing Halo sequels, Microsoft swooped in with a boatload of cash, bought the property and handed it to another one of their subsidiary studios. The results for both Halo 4 and 5 and Gears of War 4 are similar. The games are serviceable sequels that add a few more weapons and quirks, a bit more diversity and the hint that there is major change in the works–major change that never quite arrives. Rather than tell Gears of War 4 through the traditional franchise lead–the rabid, Clint Eastwood on roids Marcus Fenix–The Coalition puts players in control of his wise cracking, clean cut and blonde son JD Fenix. JD could easily be Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series or a host of other bland and inoffensive leads. JD is accompanied by cookie cutter characters the fiery Kait Diaz and the wisecracking, attitude-filled Delmont “Del” Walker.
The single-player campaign drags along with stilted cinematics introducing truncated shootouts that never offer the kind of variety and innovation delivered by more modern shooter franchises. Even RPG-shooter Mass Effect 3, which is now 3-years-old, offered a more variable shooter experience. If you’re a die-hard GOW fan then the multiplayer sections of the game are where you’ll find value. If you’ve never enjoyed GOW before, there is not much chance you’ll find reason to play it now.
3 out of 5 stars