“Brothers to the End.” This motto is not just a mere marketing ploy for Epic’s conclusion to its four year old saga, it’s a statement that rings true throughout the finally completed masterpiece. Gears of War 3 tells the story of Marcus Fenix and the Delta Squad as they take on the locust, and now the lambent as well, in a desperate war for mankind. People have always either been a fan or hated the Gears series. While everybody is more than entitled to their opinion, there’s no argument that Gears of War is one of the most influential games of our time. With its down and dirty cover system combined with epic scenery, this game is not one to be missed. Lock n’ load.
- Campaign. Gears of War 3 is the longest of the three games’ campaigns, respectfully. Through a single play through on “normal” difficulty, (the 2nd of four, which I played through the game on) the game will take you roughly 14 hours to complete. There’s 5 acts as usual, all with roughly 5 chapters. Some have more, however. It’s a nonstop thrill ride that will make you not want to put the controller down the entire time.
- Graphics. With its use of crazy smoke shaders and lighting, Gears 3 is one of the best looking games currently on the Xbox 360, hands down.
- Environments. The game feels radically different from its two predecessors mainly due to the fact that every level is in a giant open area. No more cramped corridors inside buildings or anything of the such. We’re talking huge landscapes ranging from cities, mountains, islands, the ocean and everything in between. Combine these enormous environments with the stellar graphics and gameplay and you’ve got one hell of an experience.
- Weapons. Gears adds some pretty crazy weapons to the mix. Guns such as the One Shot, which is essentially a giant charged sniper that can, and will, one shot pretty much any enemy in the game is a nice touch for the bigger firefights of the game. Another gun, the Vulcan, which is a huge machine gun that another team mate must actually carry the ammo box around with you is something we should see more of in games. Combine these two with the digger, a grenade launcher that shoots under cover, the Silverback, an enormous mech similar to the ones used in the Alien franchise, and the retro lancer, an old lancer that packs more of a punch at the cost of accuracy and also has a bayonet for charging, and you have a game that feels almost totally different to those before it.
- Story. The game has a great story that you do care about. While many will say it’s just firefight after firefight, you care about what’s going on. This is the final push, the end. These characters are desperate and broken. By controlling them, it’s almost as if it’s your duty to get these characters to the end. To hope. Something not touched on too much in gaming. Dom is dealing with extreme depression from the loss of his wife, Cole is having a rough time adapting to having almost nothing left, even saying at one point, “You ever feel like you died but nobody told you?” Epic has put a lot into these characters and their backgrounds since 2007. The game does have its cheesy moments, but also its sad ones. It has a rather touching moment in Act III that you do not want to miss. The game does indeed have a conclusion. While we should never say never, I would rather Epic left the series where it did at the end of this game’s final cutscene than try to continue it. However, like Halo Wars before it, I could see some kind of RTS game coming from the Gears franchise.
- On Rails Champion. Gears has always been famous for its on rails moments. For example, riding in the back of a truck or the likes of such. Gears of War 3 features the best on rails moments in any game I’ve ever played. Whether you’re being machine gun in the back of a truck, or especially one awesome sequence where you’re battling a boss and other creatures in a sunken city from a submarine turret, many of these moments make the game. All the while participating in them throughout the beautiful environments.
- Multiplayer. I’ll come right out and say it, I’ve never ever been a Gears multiplayer guy. However, Gears of War 3 changed all of this for me. It feels…different. Yes, it is Gears multiplayer but it just doesn’t feel the same, for the better. Versus mode is a ton of fun and has things ranging from team deathmatch, to capture the kill, to meatflag etc. All of them are addictive with a fabulous level up system giving you incentive to keep playing in the process. One of the biggest complaints with Gears 2 multiplayer was the host issue. This has been 100% fixed and really helps the game out a ton. On top of all this, I’m usually complaining about multiplayer maps in games. However, in this it was the opposite. I can’t find one map I do not enjoy playing on and part of this is because of environmental things such as a scoreboard in a football stadium that can crush your enemies. Another part of this is going back to the beautiful environments. Nothing is cramped anymore. The levels are all enormous, even for teams of 6. The maps are used across all three different modes. They feel fluent and fun, and you want to just keep playing one more match time and time again.
- Horde 2.0. Horde in Gears 3 is pretty similar to the previous iteration of horde. However now, they’ve incorporated elements of tower defense, borrowing from games such as Call of Duty World at War that borrowed from the Gears series in the first place. You are given money based on kills, number of survivors, and time. You use this money in horde to buy better weapons that are laying around everywhere, ammo, or to build defenses. Things such as barbed wire, spikes, turrets, decoys etc. are all available for you to purchase as you try and hold off each wave of increasingly difficult enemies with up to four others.
- Beast Mode. One of the more anticipated modes of Gears 3 was the new beast mode. Beast mode gives a nod to the Left 4 Dead series by allowing you to play as the enemy. Think of horde except you and your buddies are the locust trying to kill COGs. This means you’re going to have to destroy the barricades the CPU COGs will build as you try and kill them before time runs out. It’s almost like a puzzle game, to me. For each kill, you gain more money and more time on the clock before the round runs out. Almost every variety of enemy is at your disposable from the basic ticker, to the powerful crawler, even the nearly unstoppable berserker. Any of these and tons more can be yours to play as for a price. Do better, and the game will reward you. This is easily one of the better unique multiplayer modes I’ve seen in recent gaming and I think many future developers will borrow elements from this new mode.
- Lobby System. Gears does the lobby system very well. It keeps you at the main menu, allowing you to invite your friends. In essentially Halo fashion, you can choose any of the modes ranging from the four player full co-op campaign, to any of the multiplayer modes. This allows for quick and easy searching, and makes thing very convenient for gamers with short fuses.
- Better Game Searching. To be fair, Matt was a radically lower level than me, (due to me beating the game before he even got it), but it did take quite a bit of time to find a match once in a while.
- The Digger’s A Real Bitch. While I’m probably just being a whiny bastard, the digger does feel a bit cheap in multiplayer. While you could say this with a few weapons in the game, (the regular lancer is tremendously overpowered, for example) don’t make a game that relies so much on cover only to build a weapon that can pretty much kill you in one hit from behind it, you know?
- Paid Skins. While these are totally optional, the game gives you the ability to spend Microsoft points on different skins for your guns and characters. These go for roughly $3-$4 each. For a game of less value, maybe. But I didn’t really expect to see that from a full $60 AAA title. Then again, there is that whole thing called the Avatar Store…
Straight Up Need.
While I have played through both previous titles in the series, I was never a big fan. This was mainly due to me just enjoying the epic campaigns but never really getting into the multiplayer. Gears of War 3 changes all of that. In addition to not only having the longest, best looking, and most entertaining campaign of the three that you also have the ability to play through all of it with up to three other friends, it finally has an addictive multiplayer that even the most anti-Gears fans can get hooked to. Gears of War 3 is a game you need to own if you have an Xbox 360. Plain and simple. Whether you’ve played the other two or not, the game itself almost seems like a whole new chapter, yet it’s the final one. Everything about it, from the presentation to the gameplay, to the epic story and multiplayer, are all masterfully done. I truly did try and find any bad flaw about this game, but honestly could not. That’s why Gears of War 3 makes AUN New England history by getting the first perfect score on the site. Go out and pick it up immediately. AUN.