The newest installment of the Gears of War series, Gears 5, does not stray far from the Gears of War formula. Campaign, online multiplayer and cooperative game modes all return in this third-person shooter from the earlier installments with little change. Of course, the formula has been refined over the years to accommodate the new gaming landscape, but not without software and server issues. The issues sour a game that, for the most part, progresses the series forward. Gears 5, at its core, is another Gears title with hundreds of hours of addictive gameplay to offer, but it suffers from issues that should have been resolved long before the game’s release.
The campaign in Gears 5 continues from the events of Gears of War 4. It follows Kait Diaz and her investigation into why her path may cross with the evil Locust faction. For newcomers, the campaign’s significance may be missed without prior knowledge from the older games. However, the colorful cast of characters keeps you engaged and involved in their plot. For the long time Gears fans, the story continues with the new direction that Gears 4 took with the story, leaving the heroes from the original Gears trilogy away from the spotlight to make way for a new cast. If you didn’t like the direction Gears took after Gears of War 3, then steer clear of this campaign. As for everyone else, it’s an enjoyable time, if not maybe a short distraction away from the online features.
The real meat of the game lies in its multiplayer modes. The new Escape mode has you running down a randomly generated dungeon, trying to get to the end within the shortest time possible. This mode is quite enjoyable with moments of sheer adrenaline as you try to beat the lowest time on the leaderboard. The new escape mode is a welcome addition to the online offerings. Versus and Horde modes, staples of the series, return with the same satisfying gameplay of previous installments. Horde mode pits you and up to four other people up against 50 waves of AI enemies. Teamwork is key to survival, and lone wolves will get slaughtered by the hard-hitting AI. Versus mode is self-explanatory. Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and several other competitive modes are included in the game. All in all, Gears 5 offers so much in terms of multiplayer gameplay that few will be hard-pressed to find a niche in its online service.
The few problems the game has are, unfortunately, very noticeable. Online connectivity has been shoddy. Many players tend to disconnect from multiplayer games at random. Leveling up and gaining experience has been a grind as many matches don’t register on the servers. These issues preside in all the iteration of the game. PC, Xbox and Playstation players are all complaining of similar issues. The issues are not necessarily game-breaking, but are certainly frustrating enough to be off-putting.
Gears of War’s addicting, action-filled gameplay and unique characters are all back for Gears 5. Yes, it is the same formula that was established nearly fifteen years ago. Yes, it is just as addicting as ever. No, it is not perfect, but it is a true Gears of War game through and through.