Gears of War 3 Review
Since Emergence Day the COG army and the people of Sera have been fighting off the ever powerful Locust horde, trying to stay alive daily has been a constant challenge, then came the Lambent. Enemies of the Locust and human alike, the situation looks bleak for the human population. Gears of War 3 tells the final chapter of this on-going full scale war that has developed on Sera, we are introduced to new characters including Jace, Sam, now combat-ready Anya and of course our band of merry men Baird, Cole-Train, Dom and Marcus. This is no fairy-tale story where everything will end with rainbows and smiling puppies, this is a tale of survival, men will die, people will be scarred and Epic Games has been able to emphasize this struggle to survive with perfection. From the lack of ammo throughout the levels, to the emotional story elements, Gears of War 3 is able to hook you in and take your through one of the best rides of last year.
Gears of War 3 is a third-person shooter, you take control of Marcus Phoenix (Sometimes other characters) in order to hunt down you “supposedly” dead father, and he knows a way to finally stop the Locust and Lambent for good. Even if you have zero knowledge of the Gears franchise, Epic Games has added a trailer to the pre-campaign menu filling you in on the major plot points of the original games, this is a nice touch and more games should follow suit. The main campaign should take you about 8-9 hours to complete, which feels like a good length for a game of this nature.
The great difference between Gears 3 and past iterations is the gameplay, it feels much more refined, and the smooth controls definitely shine. Moving from cover in the first two personally felt clunky at times, but everything in Gears 3 feels sleek and in-turn becomes a better experience. The cover system works brilliantly, it really does set the standard when it comes to sticky based cover, and is something games like Spec Ops: The Line could really benefit from.
Brothers Till the End
The AI has also taken a great leap, with the enemy providing one hell of a challenge, especially in the new Lambent variants. Luckily the AI of your teammates has also increased, they will risk their lives and dive over cover to save you and I would have struggled through many levels had they not been there to pick me up. Epic Games has also added a mechsuit that you will take control of at certain points during the game, called the Silverback it provides an impressive sense of empowerment whenever you enter, although your speed is greatly diminished due to its bulky nature.
Gears 3 looks gorgeous in every sense of the word, Epic have been able to accomplish a sense of “unnecessary detail”. One of the missions places you on a bridge overlooking an on-going battle, making my way slowly across I noticed a hole in the bridge, possibly created by a stray grenade. Taking a look down I was astounded to notice the extreme detail, the water was rushing below, and the mountain in the distance had trees moving in the breeze, it was breathtaking. This wasn’t needed; many players will miss this sense of detail, but the extent of effort that has been placed into the game is absolutely phenomenal. In a later stage of the game you will venture underwater, this is graphical erotica. It looks absolutely stunning; the surprising colour pallet for a Gears game looks gorgeous in the Unreal Engine.
Carmine laying a Smackdown
The new enemy variants also look extremely detailed and really encapsulate that the Lambent are the true beasts in this war for Sera. Another piece to this beautiful puzzle is the score, the musical tracks that accompanies the game fits perfectly, adding a greater sense of atmosphere that gameplay alone wouldn’t be able to accomplish. One moment in particular casts one of the strongest senses of emotions, sadness. The use of Gary Jules ‘Mad World’ was very fitting for fans of the series. Gears is known as the bro-shooter, but it has a way of reaching into the emotional well and when it does, Epic does it superbly.
The characters in Gears of War are known for being cheesy; they provide some of the best cringe-worthy lines in gaming. But even so, their back and forth banter feels real as they deal with situations as a team. Baird personally steals the show for me, producing some hilarious lines and some great conversations with Marcus. These guys may not be the more in-depth group on the planet, but they have some of the most entertaining things to say, no matter how pointless they might be.
Lambent are gruesomely awesome
Gears of War 3 is also known for its loyal multiplayer base, the multiplayer of the original games never felt right to me, the clunky control scheme was something that just didn’t feel like it worked for online play. However Gears 3, with its refined controls feels like taking the helm of a brand new Ferrari. Once you have mastered the gameplay mechanics through the campaign you will be able to transfer your skills to online play easily, modes within Gears are all team based, which makes for a very team oriented gameplay style. Healing your downed teammates is just as important as taking down your enemy, this sense of brotherhood amongst players is welcoming.
Add in the extensive tower defence mode known as Horde Mode, where you go through waves of enemies earning money and enhancing your defences to stay alive, plus the ability to earn XP to level up and unlock new weapons and player skins. You have yourself a multiplayer suite that rivals the best in the business.
“Da Fuq you doing in my veggie patch?
The campaign is Gears has a great story behind it, but it does feel quite directed, very linear at times. With a handful of on-rail shooter segments, some may find the experience too linear for their own good. The game usually runs very smoothly, but towards the later sections of the game there were very brief moments of slowdown when the screen become extremely hectic, it doesn’t considerably affect the gameplay, but it was experienced. Also remember that beautiful underwater segment I mentioned earlier? This was very frustrating, being entirely on-rails it felt so controlled and the tasks you were asked to do seemed mundane, yet extremely difficult. This was one of the most frustrating segments in the game and felt completely out of place.
Gears of War 3 is an absolute pleasure to experience, from the excellent attention to detail, amazing musical score and some of the sleekest gameplay around. The narrative may have some small plot holes and feel directed at times, but it makes sense and it provides a fun experience. Producing an array of emotions to the player is no easy task, but Epic does it with class, bringing true laughter and some real tear-jerking moments. Though the campaign is only around 9 hours, the robust multiplayer and Horde Mode offer a great deal of extra content for those looking for more Gears fun.
This is a truly fitting end to one of the best shooters available, but Gears fans be warned. Cole Train runs on Whole Grain, baby.
Attention to Detail
Refined Shooter Experience
Sense of Atmosphere
Many On-Rail Segments
Jamie Briggs loves a good cry in front of bulky men, he also runs Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and his videos on YouTube.