Gears of War is a great game. A simple premise and little more than getting from point A to point B, yet at the same time it manages to keep the game play fresh and varied, so the players never get bored. The action never slows down and I believe that it is the varied monsters that the game throws at you that manages that. So I have written up a little list of the five creatures that beat the rest of the monsters we encounter, either through sheer awesomeness or the way the writers handle them. Feel free to add your own opinion. Maybe there is a monster that you feel deserves a place in the top five, that I missed out.
Note: You may notice the absence of big bosses, RAAM and The Locust Queen. I am only including the types of creatures rather than the individuals.
5 – KRYLL
The Kryll were a nice touch. They aren’t even really a part of the Locust army, more part of the natural wildlife of Sera. They are swarms of winged creatures that come out at night and kill everything in its path. So basically for a good part of the second act of the first game, you are unable to step into the darkness. It put a nice twist to some of the fights and showed how varied the writers could keep the fighting.
The best thing about them though was the fact that they could be a nightmare for your enemy too if you were clever about your fighting. I recall one point in the first game, when you are pinned down by a sniper, while the rest of the Locust horde advance. When all hope is looking dire, a smart player would notice the sniper’s aim being aided by a lamp. If you were quick and good at aiming, you could shoot out the light an plunge the sniper in darkness. In seconds, he is engulfed by Kryll and ripped to shreds. Brilliant.
4 – THERON GUARDS
Snog, Marry, Avoid?
I love these guys. In a way, we could argue they are the Grubs that got promoted to the Queen’s guard. They are quicker and stronger than normal, given cool armour and usually are armed with the game’s best weapon. In the first game, they were handled brilliantly. That first battle with the squadron of them marked the halfway point in the game and they were eager to make it your last mission. Armed with the torque bow (an explosive bow and arrow), they were a formidable fight. They are also quite handy to add a little spice to a fight. When fighting a group of the standard Grub, it brings a nice touch to the battle, when they are led by a single Theron Guard.
Sometimes all it takes is their whisper. When the game lulls down with a silence, you can walk into a room and hear that noise. It instantly brings you back into the fight and ready to dish out some chainsaw justice. Sadly, they were over-used in the second game. It kind of made sense: if they are the Queen’s guard, then it was obvious that we would see them constantly in the Queen’s lair. They still bring an atmosphere to a fight, but it has been kind of diluted from overuse.
3 – LEVIATHAN
Gears of War 2 needed to take the action up a notch to come anywhere near to the original. Therefore, they included certain titan monsters, including Skorge’s Hydra beast and the Riftworm. My favourite of the bunch was the Leviathan, a massive sea monster that you faced as you tried to reach the Queen’s headquarters by boat. You are treated to shots of its fin as you approach the showdown and the suspense is nearly unbearable by the time it shows its ugly face. Sure, you could argue the actual fight was a little easy and routine, but I was left wanting more from this creature.
Apparently I was not the only one, because in the third game, we were treated to not one, but two Leviathans. First, we were treated to a naval fight to kick off the game, but later on, in a submarine, a second Leviathan attacks you. I was impressed that the creature managed to please not just me, but enough people to earn an encore.
2 – CORPSER
The Corpser was the ultimate monster in the first game. We got a glimpse of it in the first trailer and it impressed. Spider-like, massive and able to cause earthquakes wherever it goes, it was an amazing sight. Like the Leviathan, there was a great build-up to the actual fight, but the Corpser got three acts worth of it and a great pay-off. The fight in the first Gears of War was one of the high points in the game.
Ah shoot, you found me. Your turn to hide!
You may notice that there is an absence of Bruhaks in my list. Well, that is partially because of a little grudge. In the second game, we get to fight the Bruhaks (a cross between a dinosaur and a Corpser, with cannons on its back). At one point, there is a fight between a Bruhak and a Corpser and the Bruhak tore the Corpser to pieces. I can see why it was done: you thought the Corpser was tough, wait till you see the Bruhak. However, being a Corpser fan, I felt this ruined the image of the almighty Corpser. In the third game, the two titans were given equal footing (you are even introduced to some adolescent and wild Corpsers), and all was returned to normal.
1 – BERSERKER
Whoa, whoa, stop the fighting! I smell cookies!
But my all time favourite monster in the Gears of War series is the Berserker. It is a giant, crazed creature that crushes anything that gets in its way. It is also near indestructible, able to resist bullets, barely registering that they are there. However, it is blind, so it can only smell or hear its enemies. Therefore, when your character is faced with it, you must quietly creep away, until an opportunity presents itself. There are three in the first game and each encounter is full of tension and suspense. I loved the sequences, especially the last fight, when you are stuck on a train, weaponless and need to use your wits to beat the Berserker.
Then they vanished. The second game decided to drop the use of a Berserker, maybe wanting to avoid getting too repetitive. The third game had a Lambent Berserker, but it wasn’t really the same impact (I enjoyed it, but at the same time missed the claustrophobic sequences that were present in the original). I am hoping that in this new fourth game that is emerging the Berserkers get to show their faces again. Maybe there was a reason Baird was so terrified of the Berserkers in the first game…