And the game really is awesome. Indeed, it is staggeringly, derangedly so. I popped Gears of War into my Xbox 360 and sat in a cybernetic haze for three straight hours, emerging with my stomach in fist-size knots, so emotionally and cognitively depleted that I had to consult the instructions on the side of the box before I was able to cook a bag of microwave popcorn — which, come to think of it, was my only meal for the rest of the evening because I had to go back and play until I collapsed.
Normally, I am the first guy to complain about the lack of creativity in today’s games. I’ve argued many times that games are being held back by publishers who refuse to experiment — and insist on sticking to the same five or six numbingly familiar genres. Shouldn’t we be breaking ground with risky new forms of play? Do we really need yet another first-person shooter?
Well, Gears of War convinces me that jeez, maybe we do. That’s because creativity does not come only from a daring, new art form or weird new genre. It also comes from a dog-eared, well-worn genre that is proven to work — and is constantly tweaked by artists who love it.