This is the latest entry in the Gears of War franchise, with a different sort of setup. This is a turn based strategy title where players engage against the Locust twelve years prior to the original game.
It follows Gabe Diaz as he aims to hunt Ukkon, the monster behind the very monsters that you’ve likely fought against in previous entries. It’s an interesting starting point, and a completely unique sort of experience. It plays with the idea of being sent out with a general goal, and having to build the forces required to handle it.
This is by far the longest entry in the series, and it spans many distinct chapters. While working through the narrative you’ll tackle main missions, along with side ones as well. The focus of these side missions might seem slightly repetitive at first, but they do branch outwards as you continue battling along.
In general, the story was well setup, and intriguing. I do however wish that the narrative elements were pushed a bit more earlier on. They get expanded upon as time progresses, but it would have been better to get things rolling sooner in that regard. I also found some of the shifts in what you’re doing slightly disjointed as you’re going from surveying to squad building in a strange, and somewhat awkward adjustment.
That aside, it’s mostly about the tactical battles and the structuring of the missions. Each chapter features multiple layers to the conflict, as you’re mostly pushing along the battlefield. What your goal is does vary, and it’s neat how these are presented. Sometimes you’re destroying Imulsion caches, other times you’re taking out targets. You might be trying to secure a zone, rescue taken troops or flee from exploding territory.
The missions feature some very well done cinematics, and they feel like they’re right from other entries in the series. That’s mainly the important part, it captures the aesthetics of the series and many of the iconic parts that I associate with the core series. It was surprising to see so many aspects of the franchise presented in here, as I expected many to just not be translated over. This includes a focus on some examples such as the execution camera angles, the cover based gameplay and all of the iconic creatures you’re used to fighting against.
This is presented with an over the top perspective. You’re controlling a tight squad of troops that is constantly being switched up. Some matches force you to use certain individuals, whereas others are freer. These restrictions are interesting, and push you to try different squad dynamics. You can recruit additional forces, or even rent some for a limited time. The troops you gather fit into different classes, and you can enhance them in many ways. There are tons of upgrades for basically every part of the guns. Get a better muzzle for the Gnasher, or a boost for the Retro Lancer magazine as examples. Moving past that, this has great customization.
You can adjust aspects of how your soldiers look from their hair to their armor. Change the colors, pick from various material texture options and rename them as well if you’d like to. It’s refreshing, and just fun to tweak. The various characters also have a branching skill tree to work through, and it’s a neat extra. You’ll have to be smart with your gear, as you continue to gather more through special boxes. You’ll either be granted them as you play, or you might manually be able to collect them as you play in the various levels. There are no microtransactions here.
Going back to gameplay, as mentioned this title provides many well known aspects of the series. There’s lots of gore, violence and the intense executions you likely love from the core games. There are many of the well known Locust foes, as well as some new ones to deal with. You do this through various means, with limited moves per troop per turn. You can fire away, use special abilities or adjust your cover positioning. This can be rather difficult as well, with many options for how challenging you want it to be. It definitely has a good challenge edge to it, and it’s quite something to deal with as you might have to restart some situations to perform better. There are decent checkpoints though.
Gears Tactics is turn based excellence, a strategy title that takes the Gears of War franchise in an interesting new direction. It builds upon the lore, and captures many iconic parts of the core series. There were some parts of the narrative that could have perhaps been handled better, but you do get a lengthy and engaging story to work through.
The levels are well designed, and there are good many of them. They certainly provide a great chunk of game time, and you’ll be playing this for countless hours if you work through it all. There are also many side missions, and it dives into some interesting locations lore wise. The gameplay flows smoothly, while being just as visceral as you would expect from a Gears entry. It looks gorgeous in terms of the visuals, and has a very detailed selection of areas to battle through. With this being on PC, it has a benchmarking option and tons of adjustment choices to make if you’d like to really tweak your experience.
I liked the strategy elements, and setting up my troops. I also really enjoyed adjusting their looks through a wealth of customization options. It’s neat to build a team and not feel limited in how they looked or were equipped. There’s lot of content to work through, and it’s a solid time. It would have perhaps been nice to have additional modes, though what you get here is more than enough content to play through.
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Gears Tactics Review on PC
Review Code Provided by Microsoft