Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Gears of War 3 Review
By Jason Dunning
Ever since the first Gears of War game was shown, it has been a gaming phenomenon. It was the game that defined what “next-gen” truly was. Gears of War 2 followed 2 years later and improved upon the formula by upping the graphics, tightening the gameplay and adding the very fun Horde mode. With the release of Gears of War 3, do the guys at Epic games create a brilliant end to the trilogy or did they use those three years to just make it look pretty?
Well, the answer is yes to both. The game both looks great and creates an extremely brilliant end to the Gears of War trilogy. Since the game is so big, I have decided to review each mode separately so you can know exactly what each part of the game delivers.
The campaign picks up two years after the events of Gears of War 2. Jacinto is sunk and Marcus, Dom and everybody else are basically living on a giant ship just trying to survive. Before you even get to marvel at the fact that Marcus is sleeveless throughout the game, the Lambent attack you. Basically, the game starts you off fighting the Lambent (mutated enemies) and then you’ll go back and forth against the Locust.
During the attack from the Lambent, you learn about Lambent Stalks. These are kind of like the Emergence Holes (which I hated) on that you have to shoot certain point of the stalk before it can fully die. It was a great idea but sometimes those points would be on the opposite side to you and it could take forever to get them.
As most of you have probably seen already, on the ship you are being attacked by a giant Leviathan. Instead of you killing it, Cole and Baird find a way to do it off camera and then you are thrust two hours back in time and play as Baird and Cole going through a level leading up to the Leviathan fight. It was a very cool story dynamic and I highly enjoyed it but it’s the only one. There was ample opportunity to do that once or twice more but I can pretty much tell that it’s something they are holding back for the heavily planned DLC.
The rest of the campaign that follows after that battle on the ship is much like that first level of the battle on the ship. It is very repetitive.
Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay in Gears of War 3 is the tightest it’s ever been in the series. The addition of being able to jump over cover and knock enemies back is a very nice addition and the cover mechanics are as perfect as ever.
I played the campaign on 2 player co-op in Hardcore mode and I found it not only repetitive but also quite easy. Throughout the 8-10 hour campaign, it is a very lather, rinse, repeat scenario. You’ll open up in a level, get swarmed by enemies, beat them, run to the next objective after pulling a lever and then more enemies await you. They do try and break up the monotony by adding super fast exploding enemies who run at you and one of two chapters where you control a catapult or a sub. Unfortunately, especially the sub level, I found it just didn’t fit with the game. Gears of War is supposed to be a super fast action game but this slowed the pace right down and took me out of the experience.
I did mention that even on Hardcore, the game was easy and that’s because of your AI squad mates. They will always do a great amount of damage to the enemies and they will rarely get knocked down even when they run very far ahead into enemy territory. Couple this with the fact that whenever you get knocked down, the AI drops everything and runs to you to pick you up. It just felt like the game never wanted to be too frustrating but it came off as holding my hand too much. I highly recommend everyone plays this on 4 player co-op because anything but can be too easy.
Now, while the final Act of the game is pretty exciting, the last chapter of that Act is just a never ending fetch quest that finally culminates in a very long, very tough boss battle. The final boss seemed to make up for everything bad I didn’t like about the rest of the campaign. When you finally defeat that last enemy, you feel as if playing through all three of the Gears of War games was totally worth it and it was extremely satisfying. Comparing this to the disappointing ending of Resistance 3, it made me appreciate the Gears of War trilogy that much more.
All in all, the Gears of War 3 campaign, while not the best of the Gears games, is still a great experience that culminates in a very epic finale.
So, what is there to do once you beat the Campaign? Well, a ton. Aside from unlocking the Insane difficulty, you are finally ready to jump online.
While not much has changed throughout the series mode wise, there are nowhere near as many problems plaguing the Gears 3 multiplayer as there were for the Gears 2 multiplayer. They have also added bots to multiplayer so if someone drops out of the game, they are replaced by a bot until someone new joins the game. After logging so many hours in other online games such as Halo: Reach, this feature is something that needs to be put in every single game.
Basically, the Versus is nothing new to the series but it is about as perfect an experience as you can have while playing online.
Just like Versus, Horde mode doesn’t add too much but it’s not like they had too. What they did add, however, does add to the overall feel but it takes a little getting used to.
Instead of just blasting enemies, then grabbing ammo between rounds and doing it all over again, you now have a monetary aspect. You start off with money and then are allowed to spend it on fortifications to slow the Locust down.
Say that you want to grab some ammo for your guns, you have to have a certain amount of cash. It does add a new layer of gameplay to Horde mode but it feels like they just added it so they didn’t just copy and paste the Horde mode from Gears 2. So, it’s good but not great.
Ah Beast Mode. Out of all the 3 non-campaign modes, you are my favorite. It’s a twist on the Horde Mode and it lets you take control of the enemies and go and kill all the humans. It is just as fun as it sounds.
Beast Mode works in stages. You have a maximum number of 12 levels and you can play them on any difficulty. The first stage lets you play as weak Beast’s such as Tickers and Drone’s. The second stage (once you progress far enough and have enough money) adds a few tougher Beast’s but it isn’t until the third and fourth stages that things get crazy.
My most used enemy in the third stage is easily the Giant Serapede which is a giant centipede that two hit kills pretty much every body by shocking them. While it is terrible against fortifications and people in Mechs, it is still fun to slither around and chase people.
Then there’s the Berserker. You fight just one during the campaign and it is extremely tough to kill. Well, imagine being one! It takes forever for the COG to kill you and the massive amounts of damage it can do are crazy. Basically, the Berserker is the greatest thing in this entire game and I can’t get enough of just smashing everything in my path!
Stats and Awards:
I know that this isn’t exactly a gameplay mode but it deserves its own section. Any person who played Gears of War 2 knows that a lot of stuff was tracked. In Gears of War 3, everything is tracked. Every little thing you do such as killing a certain enemy, executing with each different weapon or how many kills you have with a certain enemy are tracked.
All that tracking goes towards achievements, medals and ribbons. Some of the ribbons are pretty simple but the medals are extremely difficult and time consuming. They require you to play for hours upon hours and that’s what I love about a game I want to play forever.
Having a game keep track of everything you do makes it feel like you are truly accomplishing something in the game and it makes keeping track of just how much more you need to go before you can get that “Seriously 3.0” achievement!
So, I opened by asking if Gears of War 3 was a brilliant end to the trilogy? Well, it is a perfect end to the trilogy. While the campaign disappointed slightly, the rest of the game more than makes up for it. Considering that Epic has planned to release tons of DLC, I know I’ll be coming back to the game for years to come until the eventual Gears of War 4: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem makes its way into stores and into our hearts. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go kill some humans with a Berserker.