Thursday, 20 October 2011

Game Review - Gears of War 3

Format: Xbox 360

Finally after months of waiting, it arrived.

All the preordering, beta testing, character downloading and book reading can come to an end, as the Gears of War series makes it's triumphant return. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit of a gearhead and that my opinion may be slightly biased, but OH MY GOD GEARS OF WAR 3 ARGLEBARGLE.

Okay now that's out of my system, we can begin. Gears 3 rejoins Marcus Fenix and company 2 years after the events of Gears 2. The Cog army lies in disarray and the remnants of humanity cling to life in small settlements, engaging both the refugee locust that have been forced above ground and the new threat of the mutated Lambent. The human race finds itself in a desperate struggle for survival.



The story certainly takes a backseat to a more character-based narrative, with some of the less fleshed-out characters getting a chance to develop. Gears of War 3 definitely has a more bleak tone than the previous entries, with Marcus, Dom and others displaying an uncharacteristic sense of fatigue and hopelessness. That said, the third installment of the series is probably the most colourful, as most of the campaign's varied environments are lit with intense sunlight, a contrast to the mostly subterrainian levels of Gears 1 and 2. Unfortunately the overall storyline feels fairly weak, and seems ill thought-out compared to Epic's previous campaign modes.

I consciously avoid using the term 'single-player' mode this time around since one of the big changes to the campaign is the addition of 4 player co-op. While playing through the campaign with three friends is a lot of fun, the level design has suffered as a result. Rather than the complex, labyrinthine environments of Gears 1 and 2, larger and wider levels have been created to accommodate the increased number of players. Other than that minor annoyance, Gears 3 still has the same mix of solid cover-based shooting and spectacular set pieces that has made the series such a success. Fans will also be happy to see the inclusion of characters from the Gears Universe outside of the games, such as Jace from the popular comic books and Bernie from Karen Traviss' books.



While I was pleased with how the campaign portion of Gears 3 turned out, it was the multiplayer component that I was most looking forward to. The new Horde 2.0, Beast and of course revised Versus modes are a online warrior's paradise, providing literally hours of chainsawing, curb-stomping mayhem. The new additions to the gameplay such as the new mantle-kick and bag-n-tag moves as well as a host of new weapons and executions make every match a joy to play, win or lose. Epic have gone to great efforts to track your progress up the ranks, and almost every action carried out counts towards some sort of medal, ribbon, unlock or achievement. Epic's signature 'not over till it's over' gameplay still sizzles, where teamwork and unity is rewarded, but climatic one-man come-backs can still be made (but only if you have the prerequisate skills and cunning).

Of the trilogy, Gears 3 in my opinion has the weakest campaign (but that still places it high above most other shooters) but the stellar multiplayer will keep me occupied for a long time to come. I could go on for pages about the tower-defense style changes to Horde, the chaotic fun to be had in Beast mode and the epic list of character unlocks. Suffice to say, Gears of War 3 is a must-have. If anybody needs me over the next three months, just tell them I'm busy working on my onyx headshot medal.

Lukao gives Gears of War 3 9 Lambent Headsnakes out of 10
Lukao, CeX UK Contributor.
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