GSY Review PC Xbox One

A cross-over between Gears of War and Xcom? Gears Tactics' reveal surprised many players but not those who had played Halo as a strategy game or a twin sticks shooter. It's not the first time Microsoft has sought sales by taking one of their iconic franchises towards new horizons. Can it be considered as mere opportunism or actual inspiration? Who cares as long as the game is good, right?

Scorched Earth

Gear Tactics starts right after the CGU president decides to activate all the Hammers of Dawn, raining fire all over the planet in a vain hope to prevent the Locust invasion. Amidst the ensuing chaos, Gabe Diaz (Gears 5 Kait's father) is tasked with a crucial mission: assassinate Ukkon. This locust leader is modifying his own kind to make it even more deadly and to kill it, Gabe will have to build his own small army. The good news for Gears fans is that the game shows the utmost respect to the base material. Story, units, arsenal, places, animations, sounds or gimmicks are taken right from the core serie and while it implies a lack of surprises, those assets also grant the game's visuals unmatched among in the tactical genre. With a good PC, you'll get impressive environments and characters, making for great close up kill cams.

CQC as in Close Quarters Chainsaw

The good news for turn-based titles fans is that the game both masters the pillars of the genre and makes some subtle adjustments to build its owns identity. You'll lead a 4-character squad, each member having 3 action points (AP) to spend during his turn. These AP are used to move, shoot, throw grenades, reload, use the chainsaw, heal, activate overwatch or many other special actions. The first distinctive point is the lack of restrictions. You can spend an AP for any action, in any order, with one character, then switch to another character to do something else, before coming back to the first one. The freedom it gives allows to build some evolved tactics and to make up for the mistakes you are bound to make or any unexpected outcomes. Something which clearly happens a lot since the game shows no mercy. The second distinctive point is that Gears Tactics rewards aggressiveness. You can get extra AP for a character or squad, usually by performing close combat actions (chainsaw attacks, executions, bayonet charges). So even though the verticality and physics featured in XCOM 2 are missing here, Gears Tactics' formula proves to be rich and unique enough to entice the veterans of the turned-based genre.

Best of both worlds

Furthermore, the game shines at merging Gears' gimmicks with more tactical gameplay mechanics . Kicking the explosive tickers becomes a way to lower their huge dodge stat and aiming at other locusts in the process is even better. The basic gun happens to be useful because it has a special attack allowing to cancel enemies's overwatch. You can of course pick up a grenade launcher or a torque bow, but they come with limited ammo. Grenades are still required to seal emergence holes, and while the game happens to be quite realistic regarding ballistics (your soldiers can hurt each other), it also knows when to be permissive, as healing works through walls. Let's not forget that Gears Tactics is also meant to appeal to players that aren't into turn-based games. So even if strategy is still quite deep during combat phases, the game remains quite light on the management side. No base construction, no resources to collect, no research, no soldier exhaustion, no harsh choices, no doom clock… Here, the campaign follows a more linear path with main scripted missions and a few side ones that can't all be done. You'll complete a few, depending on the rewards and restrictions that come with them, but nothing that can break your run.

Back-ups against the wall

In your HQ, you'll only manage three things. First, the leveling of your soldiers. They all belong to a predetermined class (sniper, support, heavy…) with a set of skills that can be unlocked in four different branches. While focusing on one does not alter that much the way you play the character, you can still feel it becoming a true killing machine on the battlefield, which is very satisfying. Secondly, you'll open the crates found during missions to get tons of accessories that will improve your equipment. Classical but still nice. Thirdly, you'll enroll new soldiers which will allow you to carry several side missions "simultaneously". To be honest, that part is a bit disappointing. Since the main heroes are usually required for main missions, you tend to use them the most, to give them the best stuff while regular soldiers quite logically fall behind. To compensate level disparity, the devs often give you fresh recruits with higher level and better gear. As a result, the early soldiers that you took time to customize become useless and you simply lose any sense of attachment you might have for those B-teams. Furthermore, the side missions they'll do cycle among a few limited settings and objectives, with minor changes. Over the course of the game, it becomes obvious that a few more enemies, weapons and mission types would have been welcome.

Verdict


If some games sometimes seem to wander and hesitate, Gears Tactics exactly knows what it wants. Ultra light management that won't lose the newcomers but deep enough tactics to satisfy turn-based vets. By showing respect to the franchise fans have loved for so long while managing to adapt its mechanics to a different type of gameplay, Gears Tactics brings together the best of both worlds. The pieces come together so seamlessly that this spin-off seems like a natural fit. If the game was only focused on its main part, it would be almost flawless, but the elements used to push its life-span dilute the experience a bit. Still, Gears Tactics is a great game that can be enjoyed by both Gears and turn based players alike. Isn't that the most important in the end?
  • On the upside
  • 100% Gears of War
  • Nice visuals
  • Quite easy to play
  • Undeniable tactical depth
  • The aggressive aspect is both fun and original in a tactical game
  • Class development is varied
  • On the downside
  • The game could have used more variety in terms of weapons and enemies
  • Side-missions and the recruiting element are disappointing

8 images

  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
  • We reviewed Gears Tactics - 8 images
Sdarts
Sdarts
Commented on 2020-04-27 22:02:22
Thanks for the review.

Gonna definitely play this when I renew my Xbox Game Pass subscription. The game looks great and the light management makes me happy, too many games require you to constantly micro-manage so many systems. In the end, if it's fun, that's all that matters.
In reply to
SonyFan
SonyFan
Commented on 2020-04-28 01:16:19
Cool
In reply to
About the game
Platform
PC XBOXONE
Published by
Xbox Game Studios
Developed by
Splash Damage
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