I can already hear my friend @GreedyRaven yelling, “OLD GAME IS OLD!” in response to me even mentioning this game, but give me a break; I got into the Gears franchise a little late, okay? Even old games and old guides deserve reviewing.
This guide in particular became very handy when I fired my husband as my partner. Suddenly, the game became quite more difficult, even without Dom dying all the time (although, he kind of still did anyway–that guy has a death wish). On top of that, those COG tags were stuck in some strange places–or I guess I should say, former Gears died in strange places. So, if I hadn’t dredged up this book on the Amazon Marketplace, I most likely would have rage quit Gears of War shortly after I fired my partner–unless I swallowed my pride enough to beg him to come back.
While Gears itself is very straightforward, it’s not always easy to figure out where to go next thanks to its dark levels, shades of brown, and bad lightning. Even though the maps in the Gears of War strategy guide were also just as brown, I could easily pick out where I was, if I was heading in the wrong direction, where I needed to go next, and what COGs or weapons were available. In large, dark areas like the Stranded’s village, the Imulsion Factory, and the Fenix Estate, these were more than greatly appreciated.
The walkthroughs themselves were impeccable. Every time I followed the guide’s suggestions, I had very little difficulty–a/k/a I or Dom didn’t die as quickly–getting through the sequence. Or, if I used my own methods, I would find that my method that worked was coincidentally the same method the guide suggested. The best piece of advice came from the strategy for fighting the Corpser. The guide said that if you followed its instructions, you could defeat the Corpser in less than a minute, right before the Wretches appear to make your bad day even worse. I never could finish off that Corpser before the Wretches arrived and killed Dom. Once I followed this strategy, that ugly thing was gone in no time.
Most impressive was the overall design and layout, as depicted in the image to the right. As you can see, the walkthrough paragraphs are neatly laid out, the COG tags are clearly marked and separated from the walkthroughs, special tips are segmented away from the walkthroughs, and there was even enough space for some game artwork that wouldn’t detract from the text. Once again, Brady Games has shown that guides can be decorative and artistic without impeding on function.
In addition, the writers were kind enough to throw in some humorous tips to help brighten up your dark journey. For example, one of the tips to the right suggests that you shoot at the lights above the Locust, as then the Kryll will swoop down to quickly feast on them. As the guide puts it, “This conserves ammo and it’s fun to watch!” Yes, yes it was fun to watch.
The guide also included small sections on the multiplayer aspects of the game AND strategies for co-op play, depending on the difficulty level that you choose. These aren’t half as in depth, but they really delve into how to fully take advantage of playing with a human over an AI for certain situations in each Act. With the main walkthrough already present, this was a nice touch that they didn’t have to include but is always appreciated.
As for a real bonus section, the guide includes interviews with the Epic Games developers. I’m not sure what it would have meant to me if I had played this game back then, but reading back on how inexperienced all of these famous devs were–like Cliff Bleszinski (CliffyB)–made them all the more endearing. It was a little fun to see how much all of them have progressed and grown from just a few years ago.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your very brief adventure with Marcus and Dom, the Gears of War strategy guide will not disappoint, unlike some of the game’s AI. For those who need every COG tag, who want to fight through the hordes of Locus without a partner, or need some assistance killing bosses on Insanity mode, you definitely won’t regret picking up this guide. And hey, if you just like to collect Gears memorabilia, then the interviews and the concept artwork should be more than enough to entice you to add this book to your collection.