A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action game is not for kids or tweens -- it's an "M"-rated military shooter that, while against aliens, is realistically violent and gory. Need an example? You can use a chainsaw to rip apart enemies or use machine guns to spray them down. The game has an online component; Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for anyone under age 12.
What's it about?
Microsoft Game Studios' GEARS OF WAR is an action-heavy sci-fi shooter that places a heavy emphasis on using items for cover and exchanging blows with the vicious E.T. race known as the Locust Horde. Players assume the role of a beefy futuristic soldier in the effort to rid the world of nightmarish alien creatures through tactical warfare. Played from a third-person perspective, players must carefully assess areas for cover, find ammo, and take on the enemies until the coast is clear to continue to the next area.
Weapons range from pistols and shotguns to grenades, assault rifles, and the Hammer of Dawn, which communicates with a satellite that beams down a deadly laser strike that can level buildings. Taking cover is as easy as pressing the A button on the controller when near a solid object. Press the analog stick to the left or right and you'll peek around to assess the threat. Press A again to re-enter the freeform mode to walk, roll, and find another hiding place.
Is it any good?
The game's strengths lie in the tense action, smart artificial intelligence, and multiplayer modes on the same television or via the Xbox Live online service ($50 a year). The game offers plenty of atmosphere, adding to the wonderful sense of anxiety and excitement. Gears of War is easily the best-looking Xbox 360 game to date thanks to photorealistic characters, detailed environments, and special effects.
A handful of head-to-head battle modes are included in the game, including Warzone, pitting humans versus the Locusts, and Assassination, where the goal is to kill the leader of the opposing team. Xbox 360 fans in search of a gorgeous but gory game combining tactical action with horror elements will love fighting though this challenging adventure. Play through the game once and it unlocks an incredibly difficult mode, with even meaner enemies.
Online interaction: Online play with open chat may lead to profanity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why older kids might be attracted to this game. Is it the story? Graphics? Violence? Online play? Since the enemies are extraterrestrials -- essentially already dehumanized for you -- is it easier to get into the violence of the game? What if the enemies were human -- would it make a difference to you?
What impact does playing a violent video game have on you?
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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.