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A step up

Product: Gears | Developer: Mobile Games Garage | Publisher: Crescent Moon Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Arcade | Players: 1 | File size: 115MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Gears iPhone, thumbnail 1
The mark of a good game is not so much in how it feels when everything is going right, but how much of an urge to continue it creates when staring failure in the face.

In Gears, you will be seeing that face rather a lot of times. It’s a game that thinks mercy is French for ‘thank you’, and its steampunk world is not keen on thanking anyone.

Yet it’s also a game that’ll pull you back, despite the punishment it doles out, mainly thanks to some great graphics and some particularly intriguing level design.

Rolling thunder

The story revolves around the end of humanity and a quest for salvation, although, to be quite honest, it’s fairly insignificant to the game as a whole.

Despite the non-necessity for a game of this sort to possess a plot in the first place, the fact that it’s conveyed through some exquisitely drawn art and well performed voice-over is a sign of the attention to detail that permeates the title.

Controlling a ball, your aim in each level is to safely roll yourself through a maze and into a funnel at the end, picking up cogs / gears / hidden statues for points, and trying not to run out of time in the process.

Polished side

Handling is performed by either touching or tilting the screen. Via touch, the ball is tight and responsive, with minute changes to the speed and angle determined by the length of swipe across the screen.

It will, however, obscure the screen - not a problem on the iPad, but often fatal on the smaller iOS devices.

Tilt is the best option for those on iPhone, though it lacks the same degree of accuracy as its touchscreen alternative.

Even once you’ve gotten the hang of the controls, you will still be dropping off the sides of the levels with abandon.

This is because while the game starts off as a simple roll-through-a-maze, it quickly turns into a full-blown platform adventure, with levels taking full advantage of the beautiful 3D graphics that surround them.


Elevators and gates are some of the first warning shots of the complicated layouts to come, yet these are merely appetisers to the sprawling, multi-layered, multi-path worlds of the later stages.

The time limits are tight, but pitched so that mistakes (and they'll be plenty of them) don’t automatically guarantee failure.

There will rarely come a time when you’ll not be sweating to make the exit, mind, unless you manage to pull off skillshots that bypass multiple obstacles at once.

Alas, there are moments that will grind your gears - elevators that don't return to their starting position when the ball resets at a checkpoint can occasionally destroy a run, while some of the camera angles don’t fully highlight the lay of the land, causing the ball to react in a way that’s hard to predict.

However, while you will swear at the screen as your ball trundles into the abyss or explodes against one of the many attractive obstacles, you’ll return to give it one more shot.

If not for the allure of posting a better score and earning a better trophy, then it’ll be for the urge to see just what crazy set of obstacles and platforms Gears will throw at you next.
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 12 May 2011
Gears is a tough, expansive, and fun ball-rolling game with some excellent level design
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