Gears of War 3
Gears of War is back and after a short recap of what happened in the first two games we’re quickly surprised, astonished and totally immersed in the o so well-known but still addictive gameplay. Epic still knows how to please hardcore gamers without losing focus on spectacle and story, even if you have to accept that testosteron is on sale.
You’ll get a smile on your face when old familiars Dom, Marcus, the Cole train and Baird make their appearance and introduce you to newcomer Sam who needs to take care of the female touch, or what’s supposed to be female in the world of Delta Squad. You’ll be back in the shoes of more than only Marcus which is good for the story, amongst other things thanks to smart playing with flashbacks and giving a good contrast between before and now. This third Gears does what Cliff Bleszinski claimed: deliver the best story in the series and make up on the promises in the commercials.
The makers of course had to impress with how the game looks and sounsd. The first Gears showed what the X360 is capable of and that status needs to be reaffirmed. Also here the devs do not disappoint; technically it may not be groundbreaking any more, the cut-scenes are gorgious, the acting and voices are better than ever before (even though there won’t be any Oscars handed out) and also a lot of works was clearly put in making credible and varied environments, large and small. Especially thanks to the latter the world, gameplay and story feel nicely complete.
The singleplayer is very tight and Gears of War 3 is like playing in a blockbuster movie. The pace may be a bit more varied than in Gears 2, you won’t be bored for a second and different parts, enemies, bosses, new weapons (like the Vulcan, a mini-gun for two) and open and closed combat exchange perfectly during the campaign. From quiet moments up to perfectly built and spectacular ‘set pieces’ to short snacks like the mechs and on-rails parts: no repetitive sections but something new each time before you can spell “bored” with your controller. That the shooting and melee parts themselves are perfect and still give a sublime feeling of satisfaction doesn’t need to be questioned.
We hope you’ll try this game in co-op as this series is an ideal way to make Locust and other vermin into a pile of goey together with your friends. You can even do it on one screen with a friend and even your girlfriend may like it, even if she needs a little persuasion. You can now also try out the campaign in Arcade mode whereby you get points depending on your performance, but at the same time share the multiplier with your companions. Fun are also the so-called Mutators that work a bit like the Skulls in Halo and change things in your play-through. Think for instance on activating friendly fire.
Personally the campaign and co-op are already enough for me, but Gears is of course also a monster of a multiplayer game (in a positive sense). Classics like Deathmatch and King of the Hill return, but there are also more creative variations like Execution where you can only kill opponents by doing an execution on them. The games still have that same exciting feel and no doubt veterans will be more than pleased with that. Those who are new can choose to only play against beginners, something I also appreciated. At the same time it shows this game actually rewards skills for those who put a lot of time and effort in it, and that FPS gamers will need some getting used to to become truly good at this.
The Horde mode of course also deserves a mentioning. The mother of this more recent multiplayer trend still puts you against increasingly stronger waves of opponents together with friends, but is this time added with options borrowed from the tower defence genre. Each Locust you kill brings in money that you can invest in defenses like fake Gears silhouets or more deadly turrets. This makes the mode not only more strategic, but also gives some variation between each wave and makes you think well about what needs to be done to get an as efficient defense as possible. no doubt we’ll find this back in a lot of other games soon!
Those that still haven’t had enough with all of the above can do the reverse in the Beast mode and take on the role of the Locust. Succesful kills allow you to become a stronger Locust and kick puny human ass.
Gears of War 3 is with its immersive and perfectly directed campaign, the co-op and extensive multiplayer simply again a must-have for those who love games with the necessary action. Epic may not have reinvented the wheel and built further on well-known turf, this is still tight and perfectly detailed entertainment that will cluster both beginners and veterans to the Xbox360 for days and weeks. Gears of War 3 is the best Gears of War up to now, and that says a lot!