Review – Gears POP!

My reaction to Gears POP!‘s announcement at E3 was a big fat “what?”. What was Microsoft trying to do, besides making easy money with a mobile game? Were they trying to capitalize on the success of the licensed Lego games by trying to do the same with Funko bobblehead figurines? I started to panic, as I can’t stand these dumb dolls. It’s safe to say that absolutely nobody asked for a game like that and it ended up being released to little to no fanfare. Is it any good though, or at least as good as a F2P mobile game available on PC can be?

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This is how the game looks on a computer screen….

In terms of gameplay, Gears POP! is simple and straightforward. It plays just like Clash Royale: create a little “deck”/”army” of units and then partake on a small RTS-esque arena by summoning them as the cards show up on your hand, all while waiting for your energy to recharge in order to pay for their summoning cost. The more you attack your opponent, the more territory you’ll gain, allowing for you to summon units even closer to your foe’s critical structures. You’ve seen this type of gameplay before, it works just fine for a quick mobile session. The thing is, we’re not playing this game on a phone. We’re playing it on a PC and boy was this conversion absolutely lazy.

I get that Gears POP! is first and foremost a mobile game, but since it’s also available on normal computers, being advertised as a PC game, it should be judged as such. And as a PC port, this is an embar“rassment. Nothing has been optimized or adapted for PC play at all, from visuals to sound to gameplay.

Just take a look at the pictures in this review. No, I didn’t add the blue rectangles surrounding the screen. That’s actually how Gears POP! is presented on a computer screen. The same damn vertical aspect ratio from a mobile phone, with absolutely no tinkering at all. I can’t stress enough how unpleasant to the eyes Gears POP! is on a PC, as not only is the aspect ratio terrible, but the overall performance is equally atrocious.

The game just doesn’t run well, even though it doesn’t look visually demanding at all. The framerate is all over the place. In fact, I felt like I was playing an Android emulator on my PC, given the bad visuals and the complete lack of a proper PC-friendly menu interface. I wouldn’t be surprised if that ended up being the case. Even the obscenely bad Forza Street had a proper aspect ratio for a computer screen, for crying out loud.

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The Cole Train don’t go WOOOO in here!!

The art style just doesn’t work as well. I get what they’re trying to do, they want to emulate the same kind of endearing slapstick appeal featured in Lego games, but those games feature bits of dialogue, facial expressions, and much more. Here, all you get is a bunch of those ugly-looking Funko dolls shooting each other, completely devoid of charm.

The sound department is also terrible. Even though you don’t expect a lot from a mobile game’s sound design, Gears POP! impressed me and not in a good way. Everything sounds muffled and heavily compressed, as if I was playing something on the Nintendo 64. There is also a bit of voice acting, comprised of one or two high-pitched voice clips per character. They sound as devoid of charisma as the rest of the game as a whole. Marcus Fenix sounds like Cartman from South Park, for example. The Cole Train doesn’t even go “woo” in here and that’s the biggest sin you could do in a Gears of War game.

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And to think that a game like Clash Royale is actually more charming than this…

I don’t get Gears POP!‘s existence on PC. I understand its mobile appeal, being a Gears of War game that is equally acceptable for Little Timmy to play, as well as a means for Microsoft to earn some extra cash by offering tons of microtransactions. What I don’t get why would anyone want to play this on a PC. It’s hideous, its aspect ratio is embarrassing, and most importantly, you can actually play a proper Gears of War game, or a much more interesting F2P title like Warframe, on your computer. Gears POP! is better left ignored.

 

Graphics: 2.5

The Funko art-style just doesn’t fit with this game at all. The aspect ratio is horrendous on a PC and the performance is abysmal.

Gameplay: 5.5

The gameplay itself is very simple and intuitive, being a clone of Clash Royale. The interface hasn’t been updated or adapted for a computer with a mouse, however.

Sound: 3.0

Muffled and heavily compressed music samples that add nothing to the overall experience. The high-pitched voice clips are also very underwhelming.

Fun Factor: 4.5

You can actually have a little bit of fun with this game until you reach an obvious paywall. The question is: why would you want to play this on a PC though?

Final Verdict: 4.0

Gears POP! is available now on PC and mobile.

Reviewed on PC.

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