You’re never alone in your fight against the locust horde. Throughout the campaign mode you’ve always got at least one squad member with you – usually your buddy Dom, who kindly breaks you out of prison at the beginning of the game. Why was Marcus in prison? I’m afraid you never find out! But I’m sure that Epic will expand on this storyline in the inevitable sequel. Like the random grunts in Halo and Halo 2, your squad members can occasionally be useful, but on the whole they’re just good for drawing enemy fire while you flank the strongholds. If any of your squad get “downed” you can revive them ad infinitum – unfortunately none of them seem able to do the same for you though.
One thing that I did find incredibly frustrating is the fact that on certain chapters you fail your objective if a colleague dies. The first time you encounter a berserker is such an instance. Just when I was getting ready to take the berserker down, Dom would go and get himself killed and I’d have to start the whole chapter all over again. To be fair, this isn’t a problem that’s isolated to GoW, and anyone who’s played Halo will remember the unbearable frustration of the level where you have to keep Captain Keys alive. It’s one thing keeping yourself in one piece, but when you have to protect an NPC with a complete lack of self preservation instinct, things don’t just get difficult, they get downright annoying. Thankfully these instances are very few and far between in GoW, and as soon as you move onto the next spectacular environment, they’re easily forgiven.
At its essence, Gears of War is a third person shooter, and as such it brings with it the usual problems of weapon selection. You have four weapon slots at your disposal, but two of those are reserved for a pistol and grenades, leaving you two full size slots to balance up. Your main weapon is an assault rifle called a Lancer – this is a solid bit of kit and you’re probably going to hang onto it for the whole game. As well as a high rate of fire, the Lancer is also powerful enough to knock most locusts down after a few well placed hits. But the Lancer’s trump card is the chainsaw bayonet! Melee combat has never been so gruesome or satisfying – there’s nothing quite like getting up close and personal with a bug before you turn him into a mass of entrails. Just remember that the chainsaw needs a bit of revving up before it’s ready for some killing.