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Gears of War 4 is smaller, smarter, and more scary

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War never changes, apparently. Gears of War though, really, really did. Appearing in 2006 as a taught, demanding, horror-tinged cover shooter, it redefined third-person combat as radically as its own inspiration, Resident Evil 4, had done before it. Typified by tension, tactics, and an ever-ferocious tug-of-war for space and momentum, Gears of War is tuned in a way that forces the player to grasp a knife-edge of aggression and defence, hang on, and try their damnedest to not bleed out along the way.

Gears 2 maintained largely the same conceits, but upped the scale slightly, moving the narrative on from the first game’s tale of behind-enemy-lines survival to a dogged fight back. The difference between Predator and Aliens, effectively, but wrapped in a game that still had oppression and precision at the forefront of its design. Gears 3 though, upped everything, doubling the campaign co-op cap to four, exploding the size of the skirmish areas, and flooding its battles with a slew of new tentacle-whipping, goop-splurging, exploding enemies that changed the series’ whole vibe and flow.