Gears Tactics – Review
Follow Genre: Strategy
Developer: Splash Damage, The Coalition
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Gears Tactics – Review

Site Score
Good: Gameplay, Graphics, Concept
Bad: Clunky controls at times, Not yet optimized
User Score
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)

It hasn’t been that long since the Gears of War franchise rebranded itself as ‘Gears’. The fifth installment was the first one under this name, and it continued the story of Kate Diaz, and of course Marcus and J.D.. The fifth game proved to be a great addition to the franchise and upped the story of the series once more. We reckon we’ll have to wait until the sixth game in the main series is released to get a conclusion of the current story arc. Nonetheless, when Gears 5 was announced, we also got snippets about a Gears POP! game and Gears Tactics. The POP! game was intended as a bite-sized game for mobile gamers, but the Tactics installment would be a bigger and more impressive project. The game reminded us somewhat of the obscure Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel game that served as a spin-off to the Fallout series in 2001. We were curious to see how this Gears spin-off would do the series justice.


The story in Gears Tactics takes place twelve years before the games of the main series. The Locust forces have just emerged and have made Sera a blood-soaked battlefield. You’ll be playing as Gabe Diaz, who is clearly Kate Diaz’s father. You’ll see how Gabe goes from his somewhat timid job to becoming a specialist to assassinate the current leader of the Locust forces, Ukkon. He’ll be sent on this task with the help of Sid, a veteran in the ranks of the COG. Sadly, they won’t be able to do it alone, thus they will have to recruit the survivors of the Hammer of Dawn attacks on Sera, in order to push back the Locust forces.

Overall the story value is fairly slim, but it’s being told in the iconic Gears of War kind of way. You’ll see certain characters grow throughout the game, but a lot remains rather superficial, but interesting enough to wait for, and enjoy, the cutscenes in-between the different missions.


Gears Tactics looks amazing. The amount of detail that has been put in every surrounding, as well as the different character and enemy models is very impressive. While many of the terrains have been destroyed by war and the Hammer of Dawn, there is still enough variation to keep things interesting. We were also impressed with the customization options of the armors of your squad members, as these will also be visible in the cutscenes of the game.

We did notice performance issues, as our current set-up has a GTX 1080, which is still fairly top-notch by today’s standards, the game said the specs of our graphics cards were too low. When we ignored this message, we could still run the game rather smoothly, but there were still a few texture pop-in problems throughout some of the game’s scenes. Other than that, it was pretty much smooth sailing, without any really long loading times.


The sound design is very similar of that of the games in the main series. You’ll get a fairly cinematic soundtrack that lingers in the background for the most part. Other than that, there’s a lot of voice acting, which is fairly expansive in the cutscenes. The combat voicing that is shouted is fairly repetitive, but it never really gets old, as some missions tend to bring new lines to the table. Overall, the true Gears (of War) spirit is properly incorporated in this spin-off.


Gears Tactics is a turn-based strategy experience, that still revolves around the typical cover-based mechanics of the Gears (of War) series. From start to finish, you’ll go on different squad-based missions (some are solo), wiping out the Locust, gaining experience, recruiting new members for your strike force, and ultimately aiming to kill Ukkon. The game has a fairly standard buildup for the series, namely killing all the grunts first and plow through boss battles at the end of the three acts. In-between you’ll get some side missions you can choose from, limiting you to the one you pick out of the list, as the others will be locked afterwards.

While the game is totally different in how it works compared to the normal Gears games, the overall atmosphere remains the same. You’ll be at the helm of a small squad during missions, which has to reach certain locations, kill specific enemies and even retrieve items and upgrades in the process. You play in a turn-based format, where each character has action points. Moving costs action points depending on how far you run, as well as shooting, reloading, throwing grenades, or using skills. It’s pretty much the standard XCOM fare you’ll be going through, which is a tried-and-trusted formula that does not disappoint. Like the normal games, you’ll be spending a lot of time in cover, slowly taking out the opposition. Unlike XCOM however, the game motivates you to leave your cover from time to time, to perform executions on downed enemies, to regain certain action points, prolonging your turn.

The game allows for some customization in terms of your gear and skills. You’ll earn experience during your missions, allowing you to pick skills for your characters. You’ll have the important characters, who will need to survive every mission, but you’ll also have side-characters that you can recruit who are pretty expendable. Other than the skills, which are very expansive for each class, you can optimize your weapons with special parts, and also your armor pieces. All these items can give you passive and/or active bonuses that might come in handy.

This XCOM lookalike title allows for gamepad controls as well as mouse and keyboard controls. We opted and played with the latter, and there are some minor hiccups in how the game is crafted. You’ll notice that the game is not always as responsive as you’d like, especially when trying to switch between different targets.


Gears Tactics dabbles in a territory that is not quite the same as the XCOM games, but not the same as the standard Gears of War fare. We were not only impressed with the visuals of the game, but also with the original storyline and the prequel setting this spin-off uses to attach itself to the main series. While optimization and a few control errors might still bar the way to a perfect score, we were extremely impressed with this game, its mechanics, its atmosphere, and its overall quality. If you love the Gears franchise, but also like turn-based strategy games, this one will not disappoint.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Gears Tactics - Review, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

Aspiring ninja.

1 Comment

  1. | Lockdown jitters
    May 1, 2020, 15:57

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