Review: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
I still remember how it all started. How the monsters, called Locust came out of nowhere to attack the human race. Me and my brothers fought hard and brave against this new enemy. The more we fought, the more territory we lost. The war has been raging on for 15 years now. It’s time to make an end to it. One way or another.
In Gears of War 3 the war that started 15 years ago on Emergence Day will finally come to an end. On that day the Locust came out from below the ground to destroy the human civilization. The COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) was assigned to end this threat. But they couldn’t stop the Locust. They made a bald move by sinking the last human city Jacinto to stop the Locust and Lambent. The Lambent, or ‘glowies’, refer to a mutated variant of the Locust, created from prolonged exposure to Imulsion (a dangerous fuel on the planet Sera). To keep a long and confusing story short. It’s your job to deal with the remaining Locust and Lambent on Sera.
Once again you’ll take control over Marcus Fenix and his squad of brave men and women. The player will almost always have full control over Marcus Fenix. Your teammates function as CPU’s when you play the game on your own. To make things more interesting it’s possible to complete the campaign on co-up with a real life friend. You can play with up to 3 other friends. If you play the game by yourself, the computer will take control over the other characters. That’s not really a problem because the A.I. of your teammates is very good. They’ll always give you support fire or will revive you when things aren’t looking to bright.
Whether you play with your friends or not, doesn’t really matter for the development of the campaign. The campaign will always be the same beautiful roller-coaster ride towards the climax at the end. This time the campaign is driven by the story. You’ll learn a lot more about the characters. They’ll finally develop a personality and background you can connect with. Where the story of Gears of War 2 didn’t felt consistent, the story of Gears 3 delivers a very emotional and thrilling plot that ties up all the loose ends. I won’t go any deeper into the story because it’s really something you must experience for yourself. I don’t want to spoil the story for you. But what I can and will talk about is the gameplay.
Something you’ll notice right from the start is that the gameplay hasn’t changed a lot. But then again, why would it? If the gameplay is addictive and works well, nothing needs to be changed. Gears of War always was and will always remain a cover based shooter. You’ll have to jump from cover to cover to overpower the enemy attacks. When you attack your opponents wide in the open, you’ll probably die a horrible death. Instead of radically changing this formula, the creators gave you some new toys and tricks to play with.
First off you’ll be able to shoot the enemies with brand new metal. Gears 3 introduces a few new weapons. The Retro Lancer and the One Shot are the two most mentionable new weapons on the COG side. While the Hammerburst is the best new improved Locust weapon. What’s special about these weapons?:
- The Retro Lancer: basically your Lancer but without the chainsaw. Instead of mounting a chainsaw on their gun, people used to mount a bayonet on it. Today you can use it for bloody melee kills but for shooting it’s a bit inaccurate.
- One Shot: the most powerful weapon in game, even more powerful than the Hammer of Dawn. One shot means one kill. And remember. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
- Hammerburst: a chainsaw-less assault rifle with a first person scope to zoom in on your enemies. The Locust love to use this weapon.
That’s not the only thing that has changed. You’ll face new enemies as well. Especially the Lambent, or glowies, bring you one of the most fearsome monsters you’ll ever face in a game. The Locust on the other hand still remain their charming selves. But since they are forced to live above ground (because of the Lambent and COG), they have adapted and changed their looks and weapons. To compensate this new and dangerous threat. You’ll be able to destroy the cover of the enemy. But watch out, enemies can also destroy the cover you’re hiding behind.
Aside from that, the game doesn’t innovate much. The most visible new improvement are definitely the graphics. You’ll often fight outside and this means a lot of sun and bright colors on your TV screen. The game absolutely looks fabulous and is by far the most beautiful game of the trilogy.
All in all the single player delivers a solid campaign that never gets boring thanks to the variation. After each intense shootout comes a calmer period in which the characters can develop their feelings. The shootouts always feel different as well because your environment changes drastically. Shooting enemies on ground has a different feeling from shooting enemies on a flying monster Zeppelin. It’s a smart move from the development team because Gears 3 still remains the same game that Gears 1 was back in the day but it certainly feels fresh this way.
Gears of War 3 however, is more than just a single player game. The new multiplayer deserves some attention as well.
The multiplayer has changed a lot since Gears of War 2. This is off course a very good thing because the multiplayer of Gears 2 wasn’t such a great success. Epic has put a lot of effort to make the multiplayer as enjoyable as possible for every type of gamer. Did they succeed?
First of I’ll have to say that Epic sure gives us a very complete multiplayer feature. You won’t just be able to shoot some random people online, you can actually play some very interesting en renewed game types. A closer look:
The horde mode has returned and is better than ever. A lot of people will already know this game mode. It became popular in Gears 2 and was copied in games such as Halo Reach and Call of Duty. What’s the idea behind this mode? Survive as many waves of enemies as possible.
This sounds pretty easy, especially when you can play this mode with 4 other human players, but don’t underestimate this. Each wave means stronger and more enemies to face and kill. Every wave brings you closer to your death and every wave will demand your fullest concentration. But that’s not all.
This time you’ll earn money for each kill you make. With this money you can buy barriers, turrets, enemies distractions, upgrades and even extra lives. The more money you save, the more powerful these tools will be. But here’s a little catch. If you use a ‘cheaper’ tool over and over again, it will gain experience points and will upgrade itself into a stronger tool. It’s really up to the gamers what they will do with their money. Will they save it up for extra tools? Or will they spend it on extra bullets and lives? The choices you make can make the difference between victory of defeat.
It’s this extra twist and the very hard waves (boss wave after each 10 waves) that makes this mode already one of the favorites in Gears of War 3.
This complete new mode is actually the opposite of the horde-mode. Ever wanted to feel what it’s like to be a Locust killing of humans? It’s possible in the beast-mode. Here, you won’t play as a human but as a Locust monster. The goal is to defeat 15 waves of humans and survive.
The more humans you kill, the more money you make. This time you won’t be able to use this money for barriers but to purchase a new type of Locust monster. The more money you spend, the stronger your new monster will be.
It’s a very addictive new and fast mode that’s perfect to play if you don’t have that much time.
Versus is by far the most well known and most played multiplayer mode in Gears of War. Here you’ll be able to play 5 against 5 on different maps and different game types. You can choose from:
- Team Death match: defeat the other time before they kill you and your team first.
- Capture the leader: players win points for the team by capturing the opposing team’s leader and hanging onto him for as long as possible.
- King of the hill: take control of an area that moves around the map.
- Execution: you can only kill your enemy with execution-style kill, like a crub stomp.
- Warzone: basically the same as team death match but you don’t have any extra lives. Once your dead, you stay dead.
- Wingman: play as teams of two and try to eliminate the opposition.
As you can see, the versus-mode gives you a lot variety to choose from but the real question is if Epic managed to improve the multiplayer as well. If you compare the multiplayer with the same mode of Gears of War 2, you’ll notice a lot of improvement.
First of all, the cover system works perfectly this time. The maps are full of tactically placed objects from where you can hide behind. But to keep the balance good and avoid campers, players will be able to destroy the cover. All players start out with quite powerful weapons such as the shotgun and lancer. Because everyone has those weapons, the battlefield is more dangerous than ever. You will hop from cover to cover if you wish to survive for more than 2 minutes on a map. This changes the strategy behind the multiplayer a lot. You’ll be forced to work together. Team play will be awarded with victory, while lone wolfs won’t survive long.
Aside from that the multiplayer has implanted a few minor but great new features. One of those is the spawn protection. This means that you can’t get killed in the first seconds you respawn back in the game. Now that we’re talking about killing. You have to pay attention when you shoot an opponent. The enemy will first fall to the floor where he can be revived by teammates. This means a kill doesn’t count until you’ve shot the downed enemy. And last but not least Gears of War 3 won’t use perks or kill streaks. This means that everyone stays equal during an online battlefield. A blessing for some, a curse for others.
Does this make the multiplayer perfect? No, it doesn’t. The biggest problem with the multiplayer right now is the overload of shotgun users. The shotgun is a very powerful weapon and can kill you immediately when you’re too close. Because it’s a standard weapon, everybody can use it from the start. Lucky enough there are still loyal and honest gamers online that keep their shotgun use to a limit. This depends from player to player and we can’t guarantee a fair game. It’s too bad Epic decided to make the shotgun a standard weapon.
Gears of War 3 is the perfect conclusion of one of the most important Xbox games. The game plays very fluently and has a very interesting/memorable story. The ending could be a little more ‘epic’ but it’s not a bad ending at all. The campaign will take around 8 hours to complete but after that you can enjoy the multiplayer. Although a few things could be a little more tweaked, the game feels very complete and is definitely worth your money.
Game Rate: 9/10