Gears Tactics Review
(full review further down)
Gears Tactics is a game that doesn't stray far from the series' comfort zone, even if this entry has ventured into the turn-based tactical strategy game. There's a lot to love though, as you can customize characters and weapons. But don't expect many new enemy faces or weapons.
+ Atmosphere, Strategizing, Battlefields
- Not much new
out of 5
It was inevitable. One of Xbox's highest acclaimed franchises has finally crossed genres into the turn-based tactical strategy game in the form of Gears Tactics for Xbox Series X, Series S and Xbox One. Keeping to a more familiar approach rather than a fresh take on the series, Gears Tactics goes full-bore and sticks the landing within the franchise's comfort zone.
With many of the same moves-sets, weaponry and gory executions found in the original trilogy, returning for Gears Tactics, it's no wonder this military strategy shooter is a natural fit for the series. But are there enough new elements to keep the franchise fresh and players at the edge of their seats? Let's find out.
Gears Tactics takes place one year after Emergence Day (or 12 years before the original Gears of War) when the Locust emerged from underground, triggering a planet-wide war against the humans. When Orders come in that the city is to be destroyed with the power of the hammer of dawn to clear out any remaining locust, Gabe Diaz is recruited by the Chairman and carried out by Sid Redburn to retrieve intel just before the strike is to occur. After retrieving the intel, Gabe and Sid find out that it leads to Government's primary target: Ukkon, the Locust Scientist. There isn't anything out of the ordinary story-wise: a bunch of bruiting soldiers set off the stop the newest Locust boss may not be that original, but the story is overall short and enjoyable and told with beautiful graphics and direction.
From snipers, scouts, heavies, supports, and others, finding the best troop for the next mission will depend on your own strategizing.
For those unfamiliar with the military, turn-based, strategy genre, you micromanage a team of up to four COG troops in an attempt to outsmart and kill the oncoming Locust horde.
The Locust here will use every strategy they have from a full frontal assault, to cover-based tactics, or even seeking high point advantages and flanking your troops. And with numerous familiar enemy types returning such as Drones, Tickers, Boomers and more, Gears fans will instantly feel right at home on any stage. Especially during the intense and gruelingly tough boss battles found throughout.
However, with a variety of troops ranging in skill sets to recruit, swapping out who's on your four-man or woman team to prepare for the next mission type becomes common place throughout the campaign. From snipers, scouts, heavies, supports, and others, finding the best troop for the next mission will depend on your own strategizing.
Enter the Barracks. In the Barracks, you customize your troops in several different ways which is a major departure from the main series. Here you can change your characters looks, armor, and weapon mods, allowing you to create a team of troops to your liking.
...Gears fans will instantly feel right at home on any stage. Especially during the intense and gruelingly tough boss battles found throughout.
Careful to not wander far from that comfort zone mentality Gears Tactics hold dear, you'll quickly realize that like the Locust, the various weapon-types are nearly all identical to those found in the original trilogy. There are chances to gain enemy weapons temporarily, but that doesn't happen until much later on and is exceedingly rare.
The game's skill tree is a nice touch for each of your troops to unlock with points received through mission progression, but isn't hugely varied in which skills are available.
The skill tree allows you to precision point weaknesses in your tactical team and spend skill points to beef up those weaknesses into strengths. However, receiving skill points is a slow, arduous process, and could discourage you from experimenting with new characters, in order to level up the ones you already invested time in. With the branching style the skill tree is presented in, I could never really decide which direction to go, as no paths lead to any substantial unlocks.
There's a lot to like when exploring the lands and discovering drop boxes filled with new armors and weapon mods.
What missions you'll explore is one of the best parts of Gears Tactics. From its beautiful battlefields, to thoughtful layouts, you'll find maps that are both familiar and new as you roam around the lands to figure out your best path to victory.
There's a lot to like when exploring the lands and discovering drop boxes filled with new armors and weapon mods. But it's half-dozen or so mission types ranging from troop rescues, to killing every last enemy, Gears Tactics doesn't stray far from course. With a mix of around a half-dozen varying mission types, you'll lose the excitement for “what's next” about a third of the way into the campaign. Although there's no online mode, and some of the action can be very slow –sometimes to the point to where I cried out to the gaming gods for a turbo mode, the strategizing of your team to try and outmaneuver and outsmart the growing Locust hordes remains extremely fun.
Overall, Gears Tactics is a comfort food for those familiar to the franchise. Switching genres for at least one outing was a fun experiment though, and it's something I hope the developers at The Coalition try again in the future. I'd recommend Gears Tactics, even if you're not into the military tactical genre.
out of 5
This game was purchased by The Age Of Z for this review.
Reviewed on Xbox One X