A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Gritty sci-fi combat is glamorized and made to look thrilling. Key themes include camaraderie, courage, duty, and distrust of authority.
Positive Role Models
The Gears and civilian soldiers are doing what they feel is necessary to defeat a vicious enemy set on destroying humanity, and they grow as characters by learning to trust and cooperate with each other. But they clearly take pleasure in combat and at times even show signs of bloodlust.
Ease of Play
In-game tutorials lead players through the intricacies of the game's battles. Multiple difficulties allow rookies and veterans to find the proper level of challenge. Players new to tactical turn-based strategy games may take time to get used to the interface as they experiment with keyboard and controller settings.
Violence & Scariness
Players attack monstrous foes with a variety of guns, grenades, and melee weapons, including bayonets and chainsaws. Enemies frequently die in grisly fashion, arms, legs, and heads disappearing in red explosions, torsos cut in half lengthwise, and bodies smashed to pulp by blows with heavy weapons. Action's turn-based and presented from a raised overhead perspective, but kill animations are viewed with a close-up camera that shows all the details. Players have the option of switching off the blood and gore in the settings menu.
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Dialogue contains infrequent but strong language, including the words "f--k" and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
This is part of the long-running and popular Gears of War series.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gears Tactics is a bloody and gruesome turn-based strategy game for Xbox One and Windows PCs. The game's set in the urban ruins of a sci-fi city ravaged by war. While the slower-paced tactical nature of this game is different than the faster pace of other Gears games, the action's no less bloody. Enemies are frequently ripped apart and dismembered by the player's guns, explosives, and melee weapons, splashing huge amounts of dark red blood in the process. (Note that the blood and gore can be switched off in the game's settings menu.) The soldiers are a loyal and duty-bound bunch, dedicated to saving people and assisting each other, but show a clear enjoyment of what they do that borders on bloodlust. They're also prone to strong language, uttering occasional profanity that includes the F-word.
Is It Any Good?
Clearly owing a debt of inspiration to XCOM, another popular turn-based franchise, this game's done such a fine job of improving what it's borrowed that it's earned its own place within the genre. Gears Tactics' formula will be familiar to many: move units into defensive positions, set them to overwatch in case any enemies come into view, and use flanking and teamwork tactics to pick off enemies while taking minimal damage. If a soldier dies, they're gone forever, so caution's key. Half the fun is forming an attachment to your recruits as you customize them, unlock new skills and better weapon modifications, and watch them grow into fearsome fighting machines. Losing them can be painful. But Gears Tactics isn't quite as brutal and unforgiving as you might expect, or at least not on lower difficulty settings. Incapacitated recruits can be revived more easily mid-mission than in other games (they can even revive themselves the first time), and they don't need time to recover from their wounds between missions.
And while Gears Tactics is much slower paced than other Gears games, it plays faster than many other turn-based strategy games. Enemies' turns typically take just a few seconds to complete, which keeps players engaged. The tactics at your disposal are impressive, too. For example, the series' signature executions have been turned into opportunities to give other squad members additional action points. Risking an execution when things seem dire can turn around a losing battle by bringing the rest of the squad back into the fight to each do one more thing. Gears' set piece boss battles, meanwhile, are appropriately desperate, with enemies like the towering Brumak and Corpser keeping allies on the brink of defeat over multiple turns as they run from cover to cover, avoiding smaller minions while trying to keep damaging the hulking beasts. A minor complaint might be lodged at the between-mission interface, which is a bit clunky and can make managing recruits wearisome, but the effort usually feels worth it the next time you take your newly upgraded squad into battle. Gears Tactics is an exemplary addition to the turn-based strategy genre, and a refreshing change for a series the primary entries of which haven't evolved all that much over the years.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.