A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gears 5 is a third-person shooter for the Xbox One and Windows PCs. Players use guns and explosives to kill monsters and humanoid enemies, can perform optional execution moves on them, and even cut them up with a chainsaw. All of which results in tons of blood, gore, and dismemberment, though there's an option to turn off the gore. Similarly, the dialog includes frequent swearing such as "s--t," a--hole," "bitch," and "f--k," though there's an option to exclude them as well. That said, online communication between players isn't monitored. The game is the sixth installment of a long-running series that also includes mobile games, novels, comics, t-shirts, action figures, and other branded items. In the multiplayer modes, players can use in-game currency they either earn or buy in the store to purchase playable characters, visual modifications, and other items.
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What's it about?
In GEARS 5, the Swarm of Locusts are continuing to attack human settlements, and it's up to J.D., Kait, and the rest of Delta Squad to stop them. But Kait is still bothered by the revelation in the previous game that her grandmother was the Locust Queen, and this may have left her with more than some serious headaches. So she and Del, a member of Delta Squad, defy orders and, with the help of their friends, head out to solve the mystery of Kait's heritage and what's really going on with The Swarm. Which, of course, will require her to shoot a lot of enemies from behind cover, while also surviving some natural disasters and a harsh terrain. Good thing she now has a helpful robot who can pick up stray ammo, electrocute enemies, unlock doors, and perform other useful tasks.
Is it any good?
Like every game in this third-person sci-fi shooter series, this new installment is as exciting and engaging as it is explosive. In Gears 5, Kait has to figure out why her past is giving us such headaches, sometimes literally, while she and the rest of Delta Squad continue to fight the human-hating Swarm. In the story-driven campaign, this takes you to more open areas where you can explore and complete side tasks, though never to the point of making this a Fallout 4-esque role-playing game. You also get some assistance from your robot, Jack, who automatically electrocutes your enemies, and can be told to use offensive and defensive skills such as a helpful radar-like scanner and a blinding flash. Still, it's the shooting that stands out, and in that regard the story mode gives familiar play: frantic firefights against tough enemies who both understand and test your knowledge of flanking and ducking for cover.
Gears 5 also boasts numerous competitive online modes with the campaign. Along with the usual online competitive modes, this adds "Arcade Deathmatch," which is supposed to be for newcomers and casual players, but the addition of character-specific skills and the ability to buy otherwise unavailable weapons mid-match makes it feel like a more elaborate version of "Team Deathmatch." Similarly, the co-op survival mode "Horde," in which you and four teammates have to survive waves upon waves of enemies, also juices things up by giving characters rechargeable special abilities, but that doesn't change much. Instead, the best addition to the game's online slate is "Escape," in which you and two other people have to shoot your way out of an enemy hive where you just planted a gas bomb. While this may sound like it becomes redundant, it's actually nicely varied thanks to some interesting gameplay modifiers and hives that are elaborate and have an assortment of enemies. Thanks to all these additions and changes, Gears 5 is easily both one of the better games in this series and one of the best games of the year.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence. Is the impact of the violence in Gears 5 affected by the constant focus on blood and gore? Is it necessary to kill enemies in cruel ways, including the optional execution moves, when you're already attacking them with guns and explosives?
This game has cursing and gore, but it also has options to turn them off, so do you think it needed to be gory and swearing? Does it make sense for the story?
- Platforms: Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Microsoft Game Studios
- Release date: September 4, 2019
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: September 18, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.