Gears of War is the Xbox 360's first killer app. Amazing graphics and sound, stellar gameplay, addicting multiplayer, and a tight, focused story make this a must own.
In Gears, you play as ex-soldier turned convict turned soldier again Marcus Phenix, busted out of jail by long-time buddy Dom because the government needs every able-bodied fighter they can get their hands on. Several years ago, on Emergence Day, the inhuman Locust Horde boiled up from underground and attacked everything in sight. In a last ditch effort to save a few humans, the Coalition of Allied Governments (aka CoG) turned orbital laser weapons on their own cities. Now, it is up to you and your squad to secure a weapon capable of ending the Locust Threat once and for all.
As well-told as the story is, it takes a backseat to the furious action. A third-person shooter, Gears of War tasks you with killing as many Locust as possible with a variety of weapons. You have your standard machine gun (with included chainsaw bayonet!), rocket launchers, sniper rifles, shotguns, and even a bow that shoots explosive arrows. You are able to duck behind pretty much any object and use it for cover, peeking out to fire a few rounds before ducking back in. And believe me, it will be neccessary to do so, because your enemies are downright vicious. Another neat feature is the active reload. When reloading your weapon, hitting the reload button again at the right time will refill your magazine instantly and enhance its damage for the duration of that clip.
The graphics are some of the best on the 360, if not the best. Outstanding art direction makes the the environments you fight in look almost photorealistic. This is what a post-apocalyptic city is supposed to look like. The other environments, such as caves, an abandoned power plant, and a country estate, all show the same attention to detail. The character models and enemies also look good, although their ridiculously buff physiques are pretty unrealistic. The sound is a high point, as well. Mostly stirring miliatary and or haunting melancholy pieces, the music does a good job of keeping you in the right mood. The voice acting is top-notch, and the writing is equally excellent. Some of the lines that your squad spits out are comedy gold, and the interplay between the characters makes you care about what happens to them.
The multiplayer takes everything you find in the relatively short single-player (or coop) campaign but adds far more difficulty. Even on the hardest setting, the computer can't compare to the ferocity of the human players you will encounter. There are several gametypes and more than a few maps, which all serve to extend the life of the game.
Gears of War is meant for a mature audience who has experience with these types of games. Newcomers may be turned off by the large amount of violence and gore, or may simply find the game too difficult for them. For everyone else, though, Gears of War is a masterpiece.