Title: Gears 5
Format: PC, Xbox One
Developer: The Coalition
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Release date: Sept. 10 (Early Acces Sept. 5)
The Grade: A+
Gears 5 Haiku Review
Is that Sarah Connor? Yes!
Best. Gears of War. Yet.
What is it? The latest and biggest entry in the “Gears of War” franchise, this newest title is set after the events of 2016’s “Gears of War 4” but with a new protagonist. This time around the action focuses on hero Kait Diaz. “Gears 5” single player story dives into her complicated past, while also providing a bevy of multiplayer options.
Highs: “Wow,” is the word that kept popping into my head as I was working my way through the “Gears 5” single-player campaign. The game is so diverse and full of big moments that I found it hard to put my controller down. Every time I thought I might be ready for a break, I’d keep playing because I wanted to see where the story was going next.
Kait Diaz makes for a fascinating protagonist and while the Fenix family is still around, her journey gives the franchise a completely new look. That’s aided by a modernized approach to the classic “Gears of War” formula.
“Gears 5” is less linear than its predecessors, with a number of ways to approach enemies. It’s also a lighter and more vibrant. In fact, this is probably the most stunning looking “Gears” title ever and it certainly has the greatest mix of environments. The plethora of settings is cleverly used to set a wide range of moods. Sometimes “Gears 5” is an action title, other times it feels like a survival horror game and then there are moments I felt like I was playing through a buddy movie. That variety keeps the game fresh.
Assisting with the evolving feel of “Gears 5” is constantly changing enemy types, fun and useful tools and several new weapons. The single-player mode in “Gears 5” is an absolute blast and you can experience it with two friends in splint screen co-op or online if you so choose.
The “Gears 5” single-player is top notch but the online offering also shines. Multiplayer has been expanded and features a ton of new options. Versus mode contains 10 different game types and is frenetic fun. Horde mode has returned and it’s better than ever. Cards, perks and character builds allow for a new level of customization. However, my favorite online mode is Escape. A three player co-op mode, Escape has players infiltrating enemy territory, planting a bomb, then fighting their way through swarms of enemies to escape. It’s intense.
Character packs makes multiplayer even more enjoyable. Emile and Kat from “Halo: Reach” are playable characters for Ultimate Edition owners. If you’ve preorder the game or play “Gears 5” through Xbox Game Pass, you’ll have access the “Terminator: Dark Fate” character pack which allows you to play as a T-800 Endoskeleton or as Sarah Connor. Linda Hamilton lends her voice to Sarah and hearing her yell in MP is a treat.
On September 15, online “Gears 5” players can also play as actor/wrestler Dave Bautista. Expect more announcements like this in the months to come.
Lows: The characters in “Gears 5” are in desperate need of a flashlight. In darker areas, your robot companion Jack will provide some light but he’s not great at keeping up if you’re moving quickly. I tinkered with the visual settings several times to get the lighting properly tuned.
The Grade: I’ve been enjoying the “Gears of War” series since it debuted in 2006 so I can say with all sincerity that “Gears 5” is the best game in the franchise's history. From top to bottom, with a fantastic single-player and an addictive multiplayer, “Gears 5” will blow you away. This title is a frontrunner for Game of the Year.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.