You can do the Gears of War slide into cover slam in Gears Tactics, and honestly that would probably have been enough for me to say ‘yes please’ to this spin-off. But the developers at Splash Damage haven’t just plopped slide-to-cover in this top-down, turn-based tactical twist on gaming’s most famous cover shooter. They’ve made it useful.
You see, if you slide into cover in Gears Tactics, your unit gets a little bonus distance. It’s the game’s equivalent of that cover-hugging crouch walk we’re so used to seeing Marcus Fenix, the Cole Train and, more recently, Kait Diaz perform with the camera placed in third-person. And it tells you all you need to know about how Gears Tactics feels to play: yes, it’s Gears of War meets XCOM, but Tactics wants you to keep pushing forward. It wants you to move your units up and get in the face of the Locust. As far as these sorts of XCOM-style turn-based games go, Gears Tactics is relatively fast-paced. Hunkering down and waiting for the Locust to swarm you will do you and your units no good. Best to take the fight to them.
Across the board the mechanics nudge you to go aggressive. Gears Tactics does not play out on a grid. The maps are open, and you can move your units anywhere, which lends movement a fluidity you don’t often get from the genre.