It may be in an entirely different genre, but Gears Tactics is very much a Gears game.
Set 12 years before the original Gears of War, Gears Tactics has you on the hunt for Ukkon – a grotesque monster who creates grotesque monsters. And of course, being set in the past, the Locust are in full force, and you can bet they’ll do everything they can to stop you from assassinating one of their most valuable leaders.
Gabe Diaz is your primary character in Gears Tactics, father of the most recent games’ Kait. He’s a determined son-of-a-bitch, thrown into battle against his will. But he’s not alone. Numerous heroes also join him in action, and other, expendable, Gears can be recruited along the way. There are five character classes available, each with their own primary weapon. And what’s more, as you take them into battle and level them up, a skill tree allows you to steer them towards four sub-classes. Add in plenty of cosmetic customisation and equipable armour and mods, and you can largely make your squad your own.
“Every battle in Gears Tactics is an engaging and enjoyable one”
Consisting of numerous acts, just like all other Gears of War games, Gears Tactics’ story is quite lengthy. You certainly won’t be blasting your way through it in under ten hours as per the norm. It’s linear for the most part, with you tackling one story mission after another. Sometimes your progress is halted until you’ve completed a number of side-missions, however, and with those you’re given a little bit of choice. While story missions have more unique objectives, side-missions generally have you completing more menial tasks such as collecting supply drops or taking control of and holding supply points. As such they’re not as exciting as the rest of the game, but they do give you a good opportunity to gain new mods and develop some lesser-used squad members.
In all honestly though, every battle in Gears Tactics is an engaging and enjoyable one. This may be a turn-based strategy game, but the action is so fast-paced that you can easily forget it. As usual, you get your turn and then the enemy gets theirs; but with its unique three-actions-per-character system, things happen fast in Gears Tactics. There’s no grid so movement is free, and you’ll find yourself moving from cover to cover to protect your hide in case of the sudden appearance of hostiles. Once enemies have been found, combat can commence, and it’s just as brutal and gory as you’d expect.
Thanks to each character class having their own primary weapon, they each have an important role to play. Support and vanguard class characters are your squad’s bread and butter: versatile and effective at mid-range. Then you have heavies, equipped with powerful Mulchers; scouts with their Gnashers; and snipers with Longshots. You can only take a maximum of four units into any one battle though, so even who you take along has to be a strategic decision. Out in the field, weapons such as Torque Bows can be acquired too if you manage to take down the enemies carrying them. It’s worth doing so, as they’re incredibly powerful.
Your squad may be armed to the teeth, but going in all-guns blazing often leads to failure in Gears Tactics. Sometimes, it’s better to get your units into a defensible position and place them into Overwatch, allowing them to fire upon enemies who step into their range during their turn. You need to know when to go out on the offensive and when to hunker down and let the enemy come to you, otherwise you might find yourself outmanoeuvred and outgunned. With more menacing enemy units introduced as you make your way through the game, it’s a lesson you’ll learn fast.
“Everything adds up to make Gears Tactics exciting and unpredictable”
When you can go on the offensive, however, Gears Tactics rewards you for it. Executing a downed enemy refreshes an action point for the rest of your team, allowing them to do more during their turns. Perks granted by skill trees, mods and armour pieces also often grant bonuses for taking out enemies or performing other actions, giving you the upper hand for the rest of the turn. Sometimes it really pays to be opportunistic, taking risks when luck is on your side. You might land yourself in trouble, but you also might take out an entire enemy squad with little to no trouble.
Everything adds up to make Gears Tactics exciting and unpredictable. It’s rewarding making effective use of your squad members and winning a map without even witnessing one of them being downed, completing its optional objective nonetheless. And thanks to a range of difficulty levels, you can fine-tune the experience to suit your skill level. It’s a turn-based strategy game for all, appealing to both fans of the genre and Gears of War games in general.
“Gears Tactics is the best Gears of War game since the original trilogy”
Currently only available on PC, though making its way to console in the future, Gears Tactics might just be the best-looking Gears of War game currently available as well. With the settings at Ultra, it really is a sight to behold, and it’s very well optimised. A traditional Gears of War soundtrack is also in place, which is to say that your ears won’t be disappointed. In terms of presentation, it really is top-notch. Perhaps the only thing that might put some players off Gears Tactics is that it has no multiplayer features whatsoever; it’s strictly a single-player game. If you don’t mind that, then it will keep you entertained for tens of hours, especially with its endless battles after you’ve completed the campaign.
Gears Tactics is the best Gears of War game since the original trilogy came to a close. The genre may have changed, but the action still has the same immediacy, and it’s just as much fun as ever to chainsaw an enemy in half or blow them to bits with a frag grenade. The joy of leading a four-man squad against the Locust Horde once more is heightened by the fact that you’re in control of all of their actions and how they’ve been developed. But Gears Tactics isn’t just a great Gears game; it’s an outstanding strategy game. Whether you’re a Gears fan or a connoisseur of the strategy games genre, this is a must-play.