Gears of War

PC, XB360 / Action / Release: Nov 6, 2007 / ESRB: M

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Gears of War PC Patched

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A patch for Gears of War for Windows is now available from FileShack, taking care of some performance issues while also fixing a Games for Windows - LIVE update bug.

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"will this fix the "saved game" issue ? , i lost all my saved games, i had a local profile too ..."
- eroczep    See all 15 comments


Slight Live Hitch Grinds My Gears (of War PC)

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A slight problem with Microsoft's Games For Windows Live initiative is manifesting itself in the PC version of Epic Games' Gears of War, which infests stores today. According to Microsoft, players are automatically prompted to download a Games For Windows Live update when they begin the game. However, the update refuses to install correctly, which can cause some problems. The solution is an extremely easy one. After downloading the update and arriving at the main menu screen, simply quit of the game and restart it, which should cause the update to install. Alternatively, players may download and apply the update separately. "The good news is that once you go through the above process, you won't have to do it again," reads a post on the Microsoft-sponsored Gamerscore Blog. "Microsoft Game Studios is working on a title update to be released in the near future that will allow users to avoid manually exiting "Gears of War" to apply the update." "Happy curb-stomping," the entry concludes. For more on Gears of War, check out Nick Breckon's in-depth review.

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"Mine just constantly crashes in the menus. Seems common from the blog linked in the story."
- Syclone    See all 13 comments


Gears of War PC Review

Epic's Gears of War port is probably going to go unnoticed by a lot of PC gamers this holiday season. With a record number of solid FPS titles to choose from--including the technically impressive Crysis, the multiplayer king Team Fortress 2, and the just-released juggernaut that is Call of Duty 4--heading back to last year's widely-named Game of the Year seems a bit like buying old news.

And that's too bad, because Gears of War still probably would have won plenty of awards had it been released this year. It's a deeply satisfying action game--one that I never expected to like, but that ended up keeping my attention to the very last mission, a real rarity these days. It really does set a new standard for third person shooters. The reason Gears works so well is its laser focus on basic elements of gameplay--namely controls and level design. It is a textbook example of how clever designers can lay out a vast set of seemingly simple blocks and boundaries, that when painted over with the impressive Unreal Engine 3, feel fun to run through as a lumbering marine for hours on end. The control scheme that allows for the visceral, duck-and-cover gunfights never gets boring, and in its transition to the PC, the game's intense action loses none of its pop. But what does the PC version add to the package? For starters, you've got five new single-player chapters, wedged into the beginning of Act 5, serving as a lead-in to the train sequence of the original. Like Christopher Lee in The Return of the King, the dinosaur-like Brumak played an insignificant role in the first iteration of Gears, but makes an appearance in this extended cut to provide a decent boss-fight. The levels leading up to this confrontation consist of more wide-open enemy encounters and close-quartered battles with wall-crawling aliens--nothing particularly fresh for the series, but all fitting seamlessly into the original scope of the game. All in all, this new content isn't worth another purchase for Gears 360 owners, but it is a great incentive for prospective PC players looking to take the plunge. In making the shift from gamepad to keyboard and mouse, the big question was whether Gears' controls would retain their natural feeling. The short answer is that they do. If you're using a keyboard, the run-and-gun, scoot-and-chainsaw actions are easily achieved with either a double tap of the "W" key, or a single tap of the spacebar key. Using both in tandem is almost more intuitive than the original "A for all" setup on the 360. Compensating for the increased accuracy of a mouse pointer, Epic has added a good deal of kickback to the weapons, which makes keeping your aim hovering on an enemy's face more of a task. Though it might sound like a somewhat crude solution to gameplay balance, it doesn't feel at all out of place or bothersome. And if you're not fond of the changes, you can always just plug a PC-compatible Xbox 360 controller into your box. The game will actually detect the connection of a controller on the fly, and disable the added recoil immediately. The combat feels more or less the same regardless of your preferred implement for serving up destruction. Sure, sniping is a little easier on the PC, and machineguns a little more unwieldy, but neither of these changes affect the experience in any meaningful way. It's still all about outflanking the enemy for that bloody chainsaw kill, or vectoring a grenade to land straight onto a sniper's lap.
Gears looks great on the PC, but not leaps and bounds ahead of its Xbox 360 incarnation. Under the highest settings possible, you won't be pin-pointing any significant differences between the two, although the textures certainly seem to look sharper than ever. Performance on a high-end system is very smooth, with only a few hiccups here and there as the game accesses a texture in advance. Minimum system requirements clock in at a 2.4Ghz Intel chip, 1GB of RAM, and an Nvidia 6600 graphics card. Unfortunately, the DirectX 10 support has turned out to be a bit of a bust, with almost no graphical improvement over DirectX 9. This is compounded by the rather annoying fact that anti-aliasing can only be enabled when in DirectX 10 mode. And those turned off by the out-of-game presentation in Epic's Unreal Tournament 3 won't find any solace here--the menus are a direct copy of Gears' console screens. Another problem can be found in the game's method of serving up online action. Gears has a very strong multiplayer component, enhanced in the PC version by the new gametype "King of the Hill," and the addition of three maps. Along with the standard multiplayer modes, both online cooperative play and LAN networking are available to Gears PC players, and none of these requires you to pay a fee--the game only asks that you sign up for a Games for Windows Live account. While this process is pretty painless--GFW Live resembles the intuitive Xbox Live, and in fact those with Xbox Live accounts are already signed up for the service--you will need to pay for a Gold account in order to use any online matchmaking functions. This subscribers-only restriction to online matchmaking is somewhat understandable when you consider that the same service on the Xbox 360 also requires a Gold account. However, those not shelling out for a monthly subscription on the PC will have only a basic list of matches to choose from, a list which glaringly lacks a column for displaying your ping to each game. And though a Live Gold account is easily justifiable on the Xbox 360--required in order to play multiplayer at all--the same can't be said for PC-only gamers. Because the only major incentive to a GFW Live Gold account is matchmaking, this seriously reduces the value of the service in comparison to Xbox Live, forcing Gears-hungry consumers into a conundrum. The solution is undoubtedly a simple one--most will not pay for the service, thus somewhat crippling the multiplayer component in comparison to the 360 version. It's a strange situation, and hardly ideal.
Even considering these gripes, Gears multiplayer is still a great time. King of the Hill is a bit like the Annex gametype, and sees two teams racing to stand in the middle of a small circle, usually spawned in the middle of a map. The longer one team occupies the ring, the more points they accumulate. Because the edge of the ring is typically just outside of cover, players will need to balance between standing in the open and covering teammates from outside. And because the ring is such a hot-spot, plenty of carnage ensues in the battle over the tiny piece of territory. If you haven't played Gears, and you're interested enough to have read this far, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Despite the less-than-perfect multiplayer solution, everything from the original game is more or less intact, and the new content adds up to a very well-rounded package. While the single-player component will be a great ride for a weekend, the multiplayer matches will likely keep you entertained for at least a month, which is far longer than most games can boast. With the included level editor being released to the modding hounds, one would hope the game's life will extend even further.

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Bringing Gears of War To The PC

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CliffyB has updated his blog at 1UP, talking about bringing Gears of War to the PC. More specifically, he talks about the controls.

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Gears of War Previews

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GameSpot, 1UP and IGN all have Gears of War previews posted, checking out the PC version of the game. You can find our impressions here.

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Gears of War PC Release Date Set; Details and Exclusive Screenshots

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Have you been holding out to play Epic's latest Xbox 360 "exclusive" on the PC? Get out your calendar: Gears of War for Windows makes its way to stores on November 6th. The game will feature five new singleplayer chapters, a new "King of the Hill" multiplayer game mode, three new multiplayer maps, a game editor, and the first and last showdown with the infamous Brumak boss. Also included will be all of the Xbox 360 downloadable content released thus far, for a total of 19 multiplayer maps. For more information and impressions, check out our full preview. To celebrate the announcement, we have a variety of media to peruse, including shots of the new multiplayer maps, a look at the game editor, some pictures of the Brumak monster, a whole bunch of glamorous poses, and a pair of exclusives. "The timing is right for this... we didn't want [to wait] 3-4 years," said Epic producer Rod Fergusson at a recent press event. Flanked by Gears of War director Cliff Bleszinski and Gears PC lead level designer Jim Brown, Fergusson explained that bringing the game to the PC was a natural move--especially considering it had actually been running on the PC during the project's early showings at E3. Bleszinski echoed that sentiment, adding that the port had been under development since just after the original Xbox 360 version shipped. "You can tell it's not trying to be a PC game," said Bleszinski of the end result, referencing titles such as Halo 2 and Shadowrun as lazy examples of PC ports. Gears of War for Windows will support Windows Vista and XP, keyboards and Xbox controllers, and all manner of PCs, having been reworked to scale for low-end computers. "Gears PC is almost on a different engine," said Fergusson, explaining that the changes required to make the game scalable for varied specs required a lot of work on the Unreal Engine 3. Of course, many users will want to crank the game's DirectX 10-supported visuals to their full resolution, which the designers encouraged. "Once you fire it up on the PC...it's almost like an entirely new game," remarked Bleszinski. As an added bonus for Gears veterans, the Windows version's singleplayer campaign-- which Bleszinski compared to a director's cut DVD--can be started from Act 5, allowing those who have already played the original to dig right into the five new chapters. With this extra content heading only to the PC, the question arises: will it ever be coming to Xbox 360 owners? The answer, it turns out, is complicated. So much has changed to the engine for Gears PC that it would need to be entirely reworked again in order to port it back to the Xbox 360. "Putting that content back on the Xbox 360 would be a huge hurdle," said Fergusson. Bleszinski provided a second, simple reason for the content exclusivity: "Quite frankly, we want there to be other reasons to buy the PC version."

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"Aliasing makes baby jesus cry. For the 1000th time, turn on anti aliasing for screenshots if ..."
- bigimp    See all 39 comments


Gears of War PC Hands-on Preview

Gears of War for the PC is close to being a perfect port. Take the original game's content out of the picture for a moment. Forget the fun cooperative firefights and the flanking maneuvers. Ignore the visceral melee combat and punched-up violence. Don't pay any attention to the detailed architecture and solid level design. Here is a textbook example of a smooth transition to the PC. The game's menu looks nearly identical to the Xbox 360 version. The multiplayer operates in much the same way, with matchmaking supported by Games for Windows Live, supporting the same local and online cooperative options. Even the PC version's achievement points can be carried over to your Xbox 360 score. All of this works wonderfully. But much like Resident Evil 4, Gears of War was a deliberately paced game, and not one that would immediately take to the PC platform. Though it adds new content in the form of five singleplayer chapters, three multiplayer maps, and some improved visuals, it all really comes down to the controls--and thankfully, developer Epic Games has nailed that aspect in every way. Control Freaks Of course, when using an Xbox 360 controller for Windows, the game feels virtually identical to the Xbox 360 version. However, rather than relying wholly on the gamepad to deliver the authentic Gears experience, Epic has taken us keyboard and mouse users into full account. The "A for All" setup of the Xbox 360 version--which allowed users to dive, run, and enter cover using only the "A" button--has been converted into a "Spacebar or Double-tap WASD for All" option. It's not nearly as complicated as that sounds. For instance, double tapping the "D" key will send you diving to the right, while a single tap of the spacebar while holding "D" will do the same. I found a combination of both controls to be optimal, as did some of the Epic crew. Double-tapping "W" put my character into the crouched hustle, followed by a simple tap of the spacebar to slide into cover. This feels almost as natural--if not moreso--than the Xbox 360 version, and takes only a minute of practice to warm up to. In an interesting bit of programming, the game's tooltips will actually change on the fly depending on the current control input. This brings up another elegant solution. To counteract the increased accuracy of the mouse--which very well could have ruined the challenge of the game, let alone the multiplayer balance--Epic has in turn increased the weapon recoil for mouse users, applied automatically upon detection of input. In fact, at one point I was playing with an Xbox 360 controller in one hand and a mouse in the other, the recoil changing in real-time. The Epic developers had earlier remarked that there should be a special achievement for doing so. "Control Freaks," quipped Epic's Cliff Bleszinski, always ready with the witty achievement titles. Though the game won't accept simultaneous input from both, you can move with the controller, stop, aim with the mouse, and fire on either. Performing a test-fire with the mouse steadied at one point on a wall sent a spray of bullets straight up to the sky. Seconds later, firing at that same spot with an Xbox 360 controller created an impact smear measuring only a few feet in length. Some serious tweaking has certainly taken place, and while it's not enough to annoy, it is enough to make a difference in balancing the gameplay for the laser-accurate PC crowd. Extra recoil obviously won't be much of an issue if your target dies with the first shot, so another hindrance had to be devised for sniper rifles. To partly solve this issue, players who take damage while attempting to snipe will now have their aim affected. As compared to the rock-solid shooting arm of the 360 version, you'll now have to be a bit more careful, and a good deal faster, when sniping at players from afar. Despite the added kick-back, playing Gears on the PC is an altogether freeing in comparison with the original. After a few hours with the game, I much preferred the PC controls. Quickly moving on the diagonal, snapping from enemy to enemy, and switching weapons with a click of the mouse wheel was all too easy, but in a good way. Plowing through the new singleplayer content, it really did feel like a fresh experience. The New Adventures of Timgad The five new singleplayer chapters focus on the area of Timgad, and fill in a little of the story before the original Act 5 missions. Timgad itself isn't particularly notable. Beginning with a battle to lower a drawbridge, the extra levels are just that--extra levels. These new spaces aren't radically different from the original Gears levels, although some were satisfyingly difficult. No, the new hallways and courtyards aren't worth mentioning in detail. What really makes the new content is the Brumak. Going back to the original Unreal Engine 3 tech demo, he was there. Then he showed himself in a trailer. He followed that up with an even more popular appearance in a television commercial. It is altogether surprising he doesn't have his own IMDB entry. And yet, he was nowhere to be seen in the original Gears. Where was the Brumak? Where have all the Brumaks gone? Continue reading to find out. _PAGE_BREAK_ Like a Dino-Rider gone wrong, the lumbering Brumak stalks you throughout the new singleplayer chapters, finally giving you a chance to meet him in person at the end. Each brief encounter with the Brumak isn't much of a battle, but they give you enough of a taste of his unsavory character to have you anticipating the final assault. I made it a personal mission to reach this boss fight before my time with the game expired, and I made it only just in time. I had to take that thing down. As it turns out, he's not the most difficult boss ever constructed, but he does have a few nasty tricks up his well-armed sleeves. The Brumak's rockets attack in wide arcs, zipping around the cover that usually means safety in Gears. Only with a clever game-plan and plenty of ammo does he become manageable. After a few well-timed sniper shots, he was felled, and the game segued into the next chapter--the original opening of Act 5. Speaking of segue-ways, one of the minor complaints I had with Gears PC had to do with the load times. Like the Xbox 360 version, each chapter drifts into the next, with the game seamlessly moving from level to level without a single loading screen. Unfortunately, even on Epic's beefy computers, I did notice a few hiccups at times when moving from one area to the next, and not always at the preplanned caching sections. This wouldn't have been an issue if it hadn't sometimes occurred when an enemy was running straight at me. Out of the five chapters I played, this happened maybe three times, but always at the same places. Still, these load hiccups are a small price to pay for the improved visuals. Gears looks absolutely fantastic in the high resolution of a widescreen monitor. The textures have been improved a good deal from the Xbox 360 version, and at the highest settings with DirectX 10 enabled, every pock-marked face and stony wall looks better than ever. If you're worried about your Quake 3 machine not being up to par, a single core 2.4ghz Intel chip with an nVidia 6600 graphics card and 1GB of RAM was given as a minimum spec. You will surely want more under the hood to have the game at all resembling its former self. Standing victorious over the Brumak, I had become the first person outside of Epic staff to conquer the new content. Representing Shacknews, I now turned to face my colleagues in four on four multiplayer combat, King of the Hill style. Hamburger Hill Three new multiplayer maps ship with Gears of War PC, all supporting the new game mode: King of the Hill, a variation of the Annex mode. King of the Hill unsurprisingly revolves around taking control of a small, single circle on the map. As you stand in the glowing hoop--which changes color based on the controlling team--more points are slowly added to the scoreboard for your side. If an enemy enters the ring, it drops to a neutral color while in limbo. Not the most original of game types, it turned out to be more fun than I had expected. I have never been a big fan of King of the Hill gameplay, but I have to admit, it works well in the context of Gears. Contrary to the usual Gears mentality, the control point is almost always planted in an area without cover. This exposes those who would dare to take control, thereby making it extremely difficult to stay alive. Respawns are set on 15 second timers, which is just long enough to guarantee the hill changes hands. This makes for an exciting round, but also a cooperative one, as teammates must strike a balance between risking their lives for personal glory and supporting their team in its kingly endeavors. The new maps lend themselves well to the game type. Courtyard is just that, a large open courtyard set amongst towering ruins. What makes the map interesting are the elevated starting locations. At the beginning of each round, both teams can clearly see eachother across the open space, and can note exactly where their enemies are funneling down into the low-lying choke points. This gives a slight advantage to those who pick their heads up from the firefight long enough to observe their surroundings. The control points change location from round to round in King of the Hill, and are often nestled away on the higher points of the map. Gold Rush starts the teams at low elevation, but the hill might spawn on the upper or lower sections of the map. Luckily, an icon is included to point you in the direction of the point, although the icon sadly does not denote height, leading to some very confused starts. The included game editor is a full-featured affair, although little documentation will is provided. Epic hopes that players will take it upon themselves to learn the ropes, share their knowledge on the forums, and create their own single and multiplayer maps. The "Kismet" visual scripting tool will allow editors to create chains of if/thens and other scripting statements, easing the programming requirements for would-be mappers. Players who want to share their finished creations will have to do so outside of the game, however, as auto-downloading is not an included feature due to PC security concerns. After several rounds of humiliating defeat, our opponents wised up and began to give us a challenge. Much like an online match, just as they were putting up a fierce fight, it was time for me to drop out. Funny how that happens. Mad World I never expected to like Gears of War in the first place. It seemed like such a tired cliche from the beginning, with its silly dialogue and overblown action. Giant soldiers shooting alien invaders in a post-apocalyptic city--what a concept. Of course I was wrong in my presumption, as the game turned out to be a textbook example of how to execute a third-person shooter. And at the end of the day, Gears of War for the PC is close to being a perfect, textbook port. It takes the original game, retains its unique pacing no matter the control scheme, and adds enough content to reward those who've waited this long to play it. It looks great, it runs under XP or Vista, and it runs well. For those who have played the original, the game probably isn't worth another buy just for the new content, but who was expecting that? For those who haven't yet experienced Gears, even in this busy season of PC releases, it's a no-brainer.

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CliffyB Q&A

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There's a Q&A with Epic's CliffyB on bit-tech.net. The designer is asked about Gears of War and more.

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Gears of War Preview

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There's a Gears of War preview on GameSpot this morning, going hands-on with the exclusive content found in the PC release.

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Gears of War Q&A

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Computer & Video Games grinds some gears, asking CliffyB about the PC version of Gears of War.

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Gears of War Q&A

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There's a five page Gears of War interview on 1UP, asking lead designer Cliff Bleszinski and producer Rod Fergusson about the PC version of the game. Topics include cutscenes and narrative, the campaign, gameplay mechanics and mod support.

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Gears of War Q&A

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1UP has a Gears of War Q&A, asking Epic vice president Mark Rein about the upcoming PC version of the game.

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Gears of War Q&A

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IGN has posted a Q&A with Epic's Cliff Bleszinski and Rod Fergusson, asking the two about new features and content found in the PC version of Gears of War.

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