A screen grab from the Horde gaming mode in ‘Gears 5’.
A screen grab from the Horde gaming mode in ‘Gears 5’.

Lounge review: Gears 5 is both surprising and disappointing

  • The series introduces a female character for the first time and has replaced linear gameplay with large open spaces
  • Gears 5 is a step up from all that in many ways but still disappoints on some fronts

You know those mindless yet fun movies we all watch at times? Gears 5 is one of those, but in the gaming space.

You would be forgiven for not expecting too much. While the Gears Of War series has created a space for itself in the history of gaming, it has often been criticized for linear gameplay and weak storylines. Gears 5 is a step up from all that in many ways but still disappoints on some fronts. How you feel about this game will depend upon which aspect of it you focus on. It has its ups and downs, but all in all, it’s well put together.

Gears 5 brings a female lead to the series for the first time. You start off with a male character but shift to Kait quickly. And that’s perhaps the best decision the game’s developer, The Coalition, has made.

Kait’s story provides some much needed depth. In unravelling Kait’s backstory, Gears 5 not only develops some of its other characters but tells you more about the game’s lore and the history of the Locusts/Swarm (the game’s antagonists). If you haven’t followed the series so far, a quick look-up on Wikipedia will make things really interesting.

But while Kait’s story gives you reason to soldier on through each “Act" and “Chapter", it all seems to end rather quickly, abruptly, even disappointingly. The Coalition has created a cliffhanger of an ending, but it’s an extremely safe cliffhanger. You will end the story with a “Really? You’re rolling credits here?"

On the other hand, the gameplay is pleasantly different. While Gears 5 follows the run and gun gameplay mechanic of yesteryear, its level design is quite different. The linear gameplay has been replaced by large open spaces. It’s surprising at times, predictable at others, even overwhelming sometimes.

But there’s no space to stop and enjoy the open world. You keep wishing there was more to do and more locations, items, people and monsters to interact with. There aren’t enough side missions, collectibles or even interesting sights to explore. Essentially, the open world is a hoax and you actually end up playing in a huge sandbox.

Your companion drone, which was more of a passive part in the forward- marching team earlier, is now an active member. It has abilities that you unlock in a Role Playing Game-type mechanism, adding yet another level to the gameplay. It has upgrades, abilities, and there’s even some strategy involved in the way you use the bot. You can run into battle using the bot for cover, possess an enemy to use them against their team and so on. In the game’s co-op mode, one person on your team will actually be the bot, which can be quite fun.

If you are not a fan of the take cover and fire gameplay mechanic that the Gears series is famous for, Jack the bot offers relief. Campaign aside, Gears 5’s other modes are pretty regular. The game’s battle royale style Escape mode is fun the first few times, but palls quickly. The Horde mode, basically a take on survival, doesn’t contribute much to replayability.

In the end, Gears 5 is the sort of game you won’t regret buying but you may not play again and again.