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Tuesday
Oct042011

Gears Of War 3 Review

The Gears Of War series is a weird one in my eyes. Some people (myself included) love the story, and really enjoy the gameplay; for others the game is a gun-chainsaw with some cutscenes getting in the way of gun-chainsawing; some people just play the multiplayer and ignore the wrappings of plot or context completely; and some people find the whole universe so ridiculous that they dismiss the games entirely. Gears Of War 3 should appeal to all these people and make them very happy.

Let's start with your game modes. If you love shooting guys in Humanity has been driven to living on shipsthe face with a shotgun and watching them explode into a bloody pile of mess, you'll be very happy. Some of the game's classic multiplayer modes are intact: Warzone, Execution, King Of The Hill and Wingman, and 2 new competitive modes have been added: Team Deathmatch, where each team has 15 respawns; and Capture The Leader, which is a combination of previous Gears multiplayer modes Guardian and Submission.

It's not all competitive multiplayer though, the game gives you plenty of oppurtunity to work together with your buddies instead of chainsawing them. Full campaign co-op is available, with you being able to play the entire story through with 3 of your friends, or indeed, some strangers. The game also adds an "Arcade" mode which adds respawns and scoring to the regular campaign, aswell as some interesting modifiers (like a laugh track or infinite ammo) but these have to be earned, usually via difficult means. Gears 2's Horde mode returns but has been revamped to include some Tower Defense, with you scoring money for kills and spending that money on fortifications, new weapons or ammo. It's alot of fun and feels like a definite improvement on the previous iteration of the mode. The last co-op mode is Beast Mode, which gives players a chance to play as the various assortment of Locust creatures against teams of AI-controlled humans, essentially serving as a reverse Horde mode. All the co-op modes are alot of fun, and are varied and challenging enough to keep you happy for a good while. 

Locust now explode out of the ground!The wealth of multiplayer options are welcome, and were actually incredibly fun once I sank my teeth into them (even though I was a Gears Of War noobie online prior to playing 3), but for me personally they're not the reason I come to Gears Of War. I come to Gears Of War for it's story. Gears 1 and 2 did a really good job of creating huge, elaborate set pieces in impressive locations to convey the epic scale of the ongoing war. In Gears 3 though, the war has basically already been lost for Humans and Locust, both losing their final safe havens and both being forced to fend for themselves with their former homes destroyed.

On top of the last human city getting sunk, the Coalition Of Ordered Governments has also disbanded, which means that mankind is now without any supply lines. With the Lambent (the enemy the Locust were running from when they attacked) now rearing their ugly, mutated heads above ground, the only really safe havens are aboard ships, with survivors being forced to trade and scavenge for supplies. And that's where Gears 3 starts. Former president of the COG, Chairman Prescott appears with a mission for Delta Squad that will ultimately, if successful, end the war for good. Now obviously resources are extremely scarce and our heroes can't exactly just take a Raven to wherever they need to go anymore, so the extreme trek to get where you're going takes up the majority of the game. There aren't as many set pieces in Gears 3 either, which makes sense. Mankind is on the verge of extinction, and as such things like kickass vehicles and huge weapons are hard to come by. The majority of the game is spent fighting your way through Lambent forces and the leftover Locust, to scrape together just enough resources to make Chairman Prescott's mission work, and while that may sound more boring it actually gives the game a great 'last ditch' feeling.

This brings me to probably my favourite thing about the game:The boss encounters in the game remain epic The way it feels. Everybody is tired, they've been at war for their entire lives and you can tell. The world is worn out and scarred, and no matter what they try the Locust, and now the Lambent, still continue to attack in huge numbers. Family and friends have been lost and only a very tiny percent of the population is left. The game conveys the grimness of the situation very well, and looks terrific to boot. This is possibly the best looking console game I've ever seen. Unlike other Gears games brown isn't the main colour on show, with plenty of ambient foliage and flowers providing green, lush backdrops. It's summer on Sera so the sun is out, casting impressively detailed shadows and causing some incredible dust effects (the first time you see sunlight shining through a cloud of dust your jaw will drop). The game really does look absolutely fantastic, infact, there's a level fairly late on in the game which may be the best looking level I've ever seen in a game (you'll know it when you see it). The game's cutscenes often drop frames but it personally didn't upset me too much, as I was too wrapped up in the story to notice the brief technical hitches too much.

The gameplay is still as satisfying as everWithout going into spoilers I will say that the story wraps up nicely. More than once during the game I welled up a little (seriously) and after completing the game I spent the next 6 hours on a Gears Of War wiki, reading up on the universe, the fiction and the back story of the characters. I would be very surprised if this was the last game to bear the Gears Of War game (personally I'd love a prequel), but as far as the main Gears Of War storyline goes, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that it's officially over. The events of the game's ending, coupled with my reading up of the Gears Of War fiction left me with a tremendous sense of closure, which was comforting like a warm blanket.

Closure. Not something you see a ton of in video games, but something that's always appreciated when it rears it's head. It seems weird to be talking about a Gears Of War game in terms of it's maturity of storytelling and not it's "sick, hardcore action" but Epic have treated the end of the franchise with respect. Ending the story of Marcus Fenix and wrapping up a series that has sold more Xbox's than almost any other game took balls, but it was well worth it, because what's left is, for me, one of the best games of the year.

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Reader Comments (2)

Good review man, as close to a perfect game as I've played recently.
The multiplayers so fun.

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuke D

Thanks dude :) It's late but I figured a late review is better than none. Yeah, we've still got tonnes of games to come out before the end of the year but I can't see this missing out on atleast a top 3 place for Game Of The Year.

October 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterGaZZuM

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