Gears of War
is an "over-the-shoulder" third-person shooter that places emphasis on using cover
to avoid taking damage while strategically moving towards enemy forces.
The game uses a number of weapon archetypes, but predominately featured
is the Lancer, an assault rifle that has a mounted chainsaw bayonet
that can be used to kill foes at close range. The player can attempt an
"Active Reload" of a weapon to reload it faster and temporarily boost
the damage from the gun, but failing to perform the Active Reload
correctly will cause the gun to become momentarily jammed while the
player's character fixes it. When the player takes damage, the "Crimson
Omen", representing the player's health gauge, will fade into the
screen, becoming more defined with larger amounts of damage. The player
can seek cover to recover their health, but if they take too much
damage, they will become incapacitated until either revived by a
teammate, executed by an enemy, or "bleed out" dying from blood loss
depending on the game type.
The game features a five-act campaign that can be played alone or
co-operatively with one other player. The campaign focuses on Marcus
Fenix and Dominic "Dom" Santiago as part of their efforts in the Delta
Squad to wipe out the Locust forces. The players will be joined by
computer-controlled characters that will help fight the Locust. Certain
sections of the campaign features two paths that can be taken as
selected by the first player. If there is a second player, their
character will automatically take the other path. Throughout the
campaign, the players can find "COG tags" of former fallen comrades to collect. The campaign can be played at three difficulty settings Casual, Hardcore and Insane.
Multiplayer Gears of War
features up to four-on-four
competitive gameplay, with teams representing the Gears or the Locust.
Matches can either be played in Ranked mode where one's performance is
tracked through leaderboards but prevents players from inviting friends
or adjusting the settings of the match, or in Player mode in which a
player can adjust several settings of the game and invite friends to
join, but where performance in the game does not count towards
tracking. Three match types were available with the game as-shipped for
the Xbox 360: "Warzone" and "Execution" modes are standard deathmatch
modes, with the only difference being that players must execute downed
foes in Execution otherwise they will revive after a time.
"Assassination" assigned each team a leader, who is the only one that
can track the other team's leader and can pick up new weapons after
which teammates can then pick them up, with the goal to eliminate the
foe's leader. An Xbox 360 patch added the "Annex" mode, which is
similar to King of the Hill, in which players must try to control a shifting control point for a certain amount of time to win.
The PC version of Gears
introduced "King of the Hill", a mode not present in the Xbox 360
version, which uses a fixed control point but varies the conditions on
which it is controlled.
Marcus Fenix, the player-controlled character, takes aim from behind cover at a Locust with the Lancer. The game uses an over-the-shoulder
camera angle when displaying the targeting reticule.