Gears of War 3 Review
By Scott Pell
Gears of War 3 is the final chapter in the Gears of War franchise that has pretty much made the Xbox 360 what it is today. This iconic franchise is brought to us by Epic Games, makers of Unreal Tournament, and the Unreal Engine, which is used by many
games such as Bioshock.
Gears of War 3 starts off with Delta squad, the crew that the series has followed throughout, and many other survivors aboard a boat. Many survivors have taken to the sea, as the land is no longer safe. It never was because the Locust could come up from the
underground whenever they pleased. To build on the human survivors’ problems, the Locust have been slowly changing and mutating from the imulsion that courses throughout the planet. In the world of Gears of War, imulsion is basically their version of oil. Only, their version of oil is killing the planet along with everything that lives on it. If you haven’t played the first two Gears of War games, don’t worry, Epic Games has provided a nice montage depicting the events of the first two games to get newcomers up to speed. At the very start of Gears of War 3, Chairman Prescott, the head of the COG (the special forces of Gears of War), arrives on the boat to deliver news to Marcus Fenix, the main character of the game, that his father is still alive. Thus begins the adventure of Gears of War 3.
The gameplay of Gears of War 3 remains pretty much the same from the last two games, yet it feels better. The cover system, the primary means by which the players fight the enemy, seems to be cleaned up. Movement is smoother, taking cover is easier, and moving from cover to cover is smart and sleek. Gears of War 3 also introduce new weapons which change up the gameplay for the better. One of the new pieces of weaponry is called the digger, which digs underneath cover, pops up and explodes, killing anybody caught in its explosion. There’s also the retro lancer, which has a normal bayonet in place of the chainsaw that allows players to charge enemies and impale them then throw them off to the side like a bag of trash. Then there’s the sawed off shotgun, which is one of those “where have you been all my life?” kind of guns that can tear apart an enemy at close range in one shot. However, the single player campaign, which is four player co-op online, doesn’t necessarily do anything that breaks ground in the genre of cover-based third-person shooters. It’s not bad, just reliable. The enemies, both Lambent (Locust that have been mutated by the imulsion) and the Locust, don’t take long to figure out. They can be fierce, but it comes down to the player as the reason for the game over screen.
The graphics for Gears of War 3 are simply stunning. The environment and characters look more life like than ever. The color pallet has also been changed around to include green among the grays and browns. The design of the Lambent is interesting and gruesome. The savage Locust, Locust that have been deserted and forced topside because the COG flooded the entire underground, have a cool apocalyptic aesthetic which clearly define them as something different from the normal Locust enemies. While the game looks incredible, it still sounds the same…
This game still has a decent voice cast; however, the script is still the same old drivel that doesn’t hold much weight to it, and doesn’t really push for the whole “video games are art” argument. There are still F-bombs dropped left and right, there are still
sarcastic remarks from Baird, which can be seen coming from a mile away, and the story is rather forgettable. Then there are the “witty” remarks from the new side characters that seem to come from nowhere, which deliver quip after quip of unnecessary nonsense that just doesn’t need to be said at all. It gets reallyannoying when Jace, a newcomer to the game’s story, won’t shut up while walking through a city that had been hit by the hammer of dawn. It’s supposed to be a rather solemn moment in the game to observe the dead and witness the ruthlessness of the government for releasing a weapon that shoots lasers from
space to melt the Locust. There are literally husks of civilians holding on to other husks of what used to be their loved ones. The entire time, Jace isshouting vulgar remarks at a member of a militia that is held up in this town and is triggering traps for the player. It just doesn’t need to happen.
The multiplayer of Gears of War3 is fantastic, or it isn’t depending on your experience in the online realmwith the game. There are basic modes for multiplayer: team death match, king of the hill, and so on. What Gears does different is how it goes about these game types. In team death match, while it is still technically a race to reach a certain point total, the way it works is each team has a limited number of respawns. There’s also a mode where each team has only one life to live for each member. Or there’s the mode where you have to kill your enemy with an execution. On top of Gears having standard competitive modes, the game also offers a few different cooperative modes.
There is the four player cooperative that was mentioned earlier in the review, which is a lot of fun, but it breaks what little atmosphere there is in the campaign mode. But it doesn’t matter; it’s all about fun with your friends.
Horde Mode 2.0 is massively improved over the original mode. Players now earn money for kills, assist and targeting enemies. Players then spend that money on fortifications, turrets, sentries, traps, decoys, ammo, heavy weapons, and other ways to hold up against all 50 waves. Every ten waves of Horde Mode 2.0 throws a boss at the players, which is worth major bank, but also comes with its share of major pain. To help the players along the way, every so often, a wave will have a challenge. The challenge will earn the players some loot (mostly ammo and some basic weapons), but every bit helps. Working on fortifications and communicating to hold out against the seemingly impossible challenge is a huge bout of fun. Players can see things from the other side with the new beast mode.
Beast mode isn’t exactly bizarro horde, as most have been saying, so much as a puzzle game. There are only twelve waves in beast mode and players have only one minute to complete each puzzle. Players do take control of the Locust to destroy a hold out spot of humans in the map. Players are given a certain amount of money to buy a certain member of the Locust horde and attack the humans. Each one has a unique play style. The Maulers charge in with their melee weapons, the Tickers rush in and explode, the Boomers provide an artillery like support, etcetera. The players have to take out a human establishment that is set up like one in Horde Mode 2.0. Players earn money and time by taking out fortifications and taking out enemies. The enemies grow in difficulty and intelligence with each wave, including “heroes” which sort of increase morale and encourage the other humans to fight harder. Beast mode is one of the most unique multiplayer modes that I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s just plain fun, and sure to be something that player will keep going back to.
All in all, Gears of War 3 is a good game, not really great, but not bad either. The thing that bothers me the most about the game is that it could probably stand on its own. The first two games needed to happen, in terms of gameplay, but not so much with the
story. With the “previously on Gears” feature, it’s pretty much spelled out for the player what happened to lead up to this point. I think that the game should open up with it, a la Mad Max. The gameplay is solid and works very well, building off the other two games to create a perfectly well rounded experience. The story and characters are vulgar, but at least it has a feature to turn off
foul language and gore. Gears of War 3 nicely wraps up the series and has cool multiplayer modes to keep buyers hooked. TheGameGuide rates Gears of War 3 a 9 out of 10.