With the release of the new batch of Xbox 360s (now without guaranteed hardware failure within the first month), I caved in and bought one. The first real game I played on my first 7th generation console was Gears of War. In the beginning, I just couldn't stop walking slowly around and looking at the graphics; and Gears is very nice to look at indeed. The environment is post-apocalyptic, with streets and houses being transformed into ruined battlegrounds. Just the way I like it. The graphics is extremely detailed, and some objects have simulated newtonian physics, which is new to me (never got into the whole Half Life 2-thing, even though everybody told me I should :). The first dangling corpse I found was my plaything for several minutes, pushing it around and shooting at it. That being said, I believe that the physics in a game like this will seem ridiculous in a few years, when the evolution of that particular game feature will have run its course.
completed the game on Casual difficulty.
Gears is very enjoyable, if you like the whole 'playing soldiers' thing. The game is seen solely from the perspective of relatively mindless grunts, which somehow suits the game perfectly. By the way, the main protagnoist, Marcus Fenix, is played by John Di Maggio (Bender from Futurama). One of the other marines, Augustus Cole, seem to be inspired by his sinister namesake from X-Files episode 28 'Sleepless' - the Jacob's Ladder-inspired Vietnam-episode. But the action is like nothing I've ever played. The use of cover, the hip/shoulder fire mechanics, reloading, everything is just the way it should be, and you are pulled into the action with wonderfully realistic simulated hand-held camera and punchy and detailed sound effects. Completing the game on Casual difficulty wasn't much of a problem, indeed the game seems to be tested and designed so as to have a perfectly smooth learning curve, and annoy the player as little as possible. I found a single spot with an annoyingly placed continue point, and a few textures that weren't loaded after continuing, but that was about it. The game is short, but has plenty of multiplayer options, so I'll have to buy a second controller and try it out with some friends.
completed the game on Hardcore difficulty.
I had a bit of trouble with the end of chapter 4. I guess the solution is contrary to my playing style, but to quote Cuzit from his GameFAQ: You have thirty seconds to get to the APC. Two Boomers and an Emergence hole stand in your way. The thirty seconds doesn't activate until the Emergence hole activates or one of the two Boomers falls. On Casual or Hardcore, just head outside through either door and make a huge freaking run for it. If you run quick enough, you can get to the APC before the Emergence hole appears, saving you a lot of trouble. That's the only strategy; run like hell.
General RAAM is a bit too difficult on hardcore for my taste. I loaded an earlier chapter to get 12 Torque Bow shots ready for the battle. I equipped the Longshot along with the bow, and I got him. If you are having trouble, make sure you have the 12 Torque Bow shots.
Dammit! Gears seems to have roasted my savegame ... Now I can't play on Insane difficulty. Problems like that can really kill my enthusiasm. I guess I will never finish the game on that difficulty, then. Too bad.