Set twelve years before the first Gears of War, Gears Tactics takes the fast-paced action we know and love and adapts it into a turn-based strategy game. While quite a departure from its run-and-gun, third-person perspective, Gears Tactics still has family values at its core. You’ll primarily play as Gabe Diaz (father of Kait Diaz from Gears 4 & 5), recruiting new squad members and orchestrating the hunt for the leader of the Locust army, Ukkon. The formidable locust is responsible for the creation of the likes of Corpser and Brumak monsters, and it’s up to you to bring his reign to an end.
As a fan of the Gears of War series, I was concerned that I may not enjoy Gears Tactics as much as its shooter counterparts. Fortunately, the developers have done an excellent job at fine-tuning each of the four difficulty settings to ensure anyone can get to grips with the game. The game’s strategy elements are simple for new players to understand, utilising the traditional action points system to determine how many choices your units have at any given time. As a way of keeping the combat fresh, new enemy types are introduced every few missions to keep players on their toes.
The main thing that surprised me was how familiar the combat feels in Gears Tactics, despite being locked to a top-down perspective. During particularly gruesome kills, the game switches perspective to the typical Gears of War third-person camera. As a result, chainsawing through enemies with your Lancer or landing a tricky sniper shot has the same satisfying feel as it does in the mainline games.
As a strategy game novice, the one big aspect of Gears Tactic that didn’t come naturally to me was the game’s progression system for each of the characters. Players have a lot of choices to customise their units: you can pick from the three different armour slots (legs, torso and helmet), customise your weapons with modifications and select numerous options in each of the skill trees for the five classes. This side of the game did seem somewhat overwhelming, especially halfway through the game when you’ve built up an army of units that all need tweaking. As someone playing on the normal difficulty setting, I managed to get by, but I imagine strategy fans will love this level of granularity.
It’s apparent right from the opening mission how much effort has been put into Gears Tactics to make it look and feel like a traditional Gears of War game. Gears Tactics has successfully adapted the Gears of War series into an impressive strategy game for players of all skill levels. Convincing long-time Gears fans to give Tactics a try may have been difficult due to the high price point of £49.99, however, Gears Tactics is launching on Xbox Game Pass for PC which makes it even easier to recommend.
Written for the April 27th issue of DailyBits.