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Gears POP!

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Gears POP! App Poster Image
Fun strategy game plays with characters in unexpected ways.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The game combines elements of deck-building and real-time strategy games. The bulk of the gameplay involves waiting for energy to charge up and placing units to attack and defend. Players must also level up their characters and adjust their team's build regularly in order to stay competitive.

Violence

The characters use all manner of weapons, from shotguns and swords to grenades and chainsaws, to attack opposing forces. But the characters are all POP! figure toys, and simple break apart into small tokens before disappearing from the screen. Victory screens show the cute figures taking off the head of the loser, but in toy form.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

The game not only promotes Microsoft's Gears of War shooter franchise, but also Funko's POP! line of vinyl figures. Players can even enter codes found in the physical Gears POP! toys to unlock content in the Gears POP! game. Players are also regularly prompted to visit the in-game store to purchase additional chests, currency, and other items with both in-game and real-world money.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gears POP! is a free-to-play real-time strategy game available for download on iOS and Android mobile devices. The game features characters from Microsoft's hit Gears of War shooter franchise in the style of the popular line of Funko POP! collectible vinyl figures. Although the game does use a variety of weapons from the Gears of War series, it doesn't have any blood or graphic depictions of violence. Instead, defeated enemies fall apart like broken toys in a puff of smoke leaving small tokens behind. The game does heavily push players to purchase items in the in-game store in order to unlock rewards early, build their collections, etc. It also offers added incentives for players to purchase real world items by including promotional codes in the physical Gears of War POP! figures which unlock additional in-game content. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared, and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

The battle between the COG and Locust has never been quite as adorable as it is in GEARS POP! Players will collect more than thirty different characters from the Gears of War franchise in their Funko POP! forms and take them into battle in real-time strategy skirmishes against other players from around the globe. You'll customize your squad and test it out against the AI before taking the fight live. Hopefully, you'll control the battlefield and dominate your opponents in 1-on-1 Versus mode, or team up with friends and grab your Lancers to take on swarms of enemies in Horde mode.

Is it any good?

This app merges a violent shooter with cute figurines to create an amusing and fun strategy game that will keep you busy for hours. Gears Pop! manages to compress two properties that seem at opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum. Gears of War is a brutal and bloody shooter series with more gore than you can shake a chainsaw-equipped Lancer at. Funko POP! figures are adorably cute collectible toys based on every pop culture reference imaginable. So what's the best way to combine two vastly different franchises? Pput them together in a kid-friendly mobile strategy/deck building game that doesn't fit either, of course. Welcome to the world of Gears POP!, a game that absolutely shouldm't work, but somehow does. While this likely goes without saying, it should still be pointed out that this is essentially an advertisement for both the Gears of War games and the Funko POP! toys. That said, it's not a bad little strategy game.

Gameplay's relatively simple. You piece together an army of eight units from the "pins" you collect through gameplay. During battles, energy slowly builds up, which players then spend to place units on the field. Once on the field, the units do their own thing without further direction from the player. There's still a fair amount of thought that has to go into things like positioning, counters, and looking for an opening to take advantage off. It's surprisingly fun, especially as the clock ticks down and players get more frantic in their moves. Unfortunately, unless you're willing to spend some actual money, either in the game or on physical POP! toys, progress can be a grind. In-game currency is earned at barely a trickle, and opening rewards requires either spending that currency or waiting anywhere for three to eight hours or more at a time. It's more than a little frustrating but doesn't take away from Gears POP!'s overall appeal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about marketing in games. How are some games used as marketing tools to advertise other products? Is this sort of blatant marketing effective in encouraging players to pick up the products it promotes?

  • How does playing against a real live person in a game differ from playing against a computer AI? Is it more or less satisfying to play against an actual person?

App details

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For kids who love strategy

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