Monday, October 10, 2011

The End is Just the Beginning for "Gears of War 3"

I wonder what guns they used steroids on.
By Roberto Campos 

Sept. 20 marked the end of Epic Games’ highly anticipated and fastest pre-selling exclusive title for the Xbox 360, Gears of War 3. But does the end of this highly successful trilogy really live up to its predecessors, and the hype it’s been given?

The campaign to Gears 3 is astonishing. Cliff Bleszinski, the creative mind and lead designer to the game, claimed “summer movies don’t end until Gears of War 3 comes out”. And it’s safe to say his claim was right.

The game starts two years after the previous installment, and the human race is facing impending doom. Marcus Fenix, the story’s main protagonist, and the rest of the human race are all stranded on an earth-like planet called Sera. The government has collapsed and humans are making refuge where they can, but the future doesn’t look too bright for them.

The humans and the Locust, an underground humanoid species who were originally your only enemy, are now trying to survive against a new enemy called the Lambent – which are basically exploding locust.

The first two Gears of War games were fairly simple in terms of story. The characters had little depth to them and the theme of the game was to survive against impossible odds. If you’ve never played a Gears of War game, video option catches you up on any kind of story you’ve missed thus far.

Who invited them to the party?

You can expect the same kind of game play from the previous installments in this game. The difference here is that battles are going to be on a much larger scale than they’ve ever been before. You’ll face colossal monsters and see beautiful post-apocalyptic environments. At points in the game I found myself looking at the scenery in awe of the detail to the game and its landscapes. Of course you’ll have some more toys to play with too.

The big difference between this game and its predecessors is how much attention it pays to individual characters. Epic Games really focused on telling a story in this game. At points you will be playing other characters than just Fenix. You’ll learn more about the characters in Fenix’s group, known as Delta Squad, and get a feel of where they came from and what they’ve lost in their struggles.

Throughout the campaign when waves of enemies are coming at you and on cut scene after another leaves you wondering what’s going to happen next, the empathy you have for these characters if palpable, which is a quality that has been lost in a lot of campaigns for similar type games of late.

With a bigger campaign, the new addition of four player co-op mixed with multiple difficulty levels, the Gears of War 3 campaign will have you coming back for more.  When you add that third or fourth player the difficulty of the game spikes, adding more intelligent enemies that will have you on your knees quicker than you could hope to beg for mercy.

But that’s not all Gears is about. When Gears 2 arrived, it came complete with a lackluster online experience. It was difficult to find games to play, textures wouldn’t load, and it was simply a bad experience. Epic Games learned from their mistakes and, last spring, held a beta for their online gaming feature and let players comment on ways to improve game play. It was the best decision they could have ever made. Gears 3 stands in polar opposite to its predecessors.

Multiplayer wise, Gears is a totally different shooting game than anything out right now, and it’s not just because it’s a third-person over-the-shoulder game.

If you’ve never played Gears of War, the weapon of choice gun with a chainsaw attachment for hacking your enemies to pieces. It’s not your Halo or your Call of Duty. When you kill someone with a shotgun, they explode. When you headshot someone, there is no head left. Epic Games has always been creative when it comes to the ways you can kill in the game, and with the addition of flamethrower executions and bayonet executions, you’ll find yourself constantly trying to pull off these moves to humiliate opponents.

Take a shower... You look like shit.

The multiplayer maps is this game are fairly balanced. Some maps, like Sandbar, which is a very open map, offers two sniper rifles, so you’ll have to deal with ranged kills while trying to get up close and personal with your enemies. Trenches, which is one of the smallest maps in the game, is a map which puts you up close and personal to your enemies for the duration of the whole game. The maps offer good variation in play style and offer fun combat experiences - unless you’re the one being killed. Customization is something that seems to be pushed in this game.

My only gripe about the multiplayer is the addition of a sawed-off shotgun. To put it lightly, it’s a noob weapon and everyone is using it for its cheap purpose. To kill someone with the sawed-off, all you need to do is get close to them and it’s a one shot kill. The old shotgun from previous games can’t compete with the sawed-off when it comes to close range combat. The only tactic I have found that works against it is to make distance between you and your enemy and hit him at afar. Most people will chase after you, so shoot them early because a distance shot with the sawed-off isn’t fatal. 

Horde Mode, a series of levels which increase in difficulty,  has been revamped and works more like Call of Duty’s zombies game mode. You can buy weapons and barbed fence to defend locations in hopes that you will survive all 50 waves of enemies. It works better than Gears 2’s horde and is more addicting with all the options you are given in terms of defending. It also allows you to play with up to five friends or random people online.

Multiplayer mode is called Beast Mode. Essentially its horde, but instead of being humans you’re the Locust. It’s addicting because of the variety of Locust that you can be and it’s a change good change of pace if you’re burnt out on a certain mode. Plus, who doesn’t want to be the bad guy?

Epic has added the ability to customize your weapon skins out. It’s actually a pretty cool feature because you can have a gun that’s literally on fire. With 43 different characters playable online, but are unlocked by playing, you’ll never get bored playing just one character.  The controls to this game are superb. Everything is so fluid and reacts perfectly to the moves that you want to perform. You don’t feel big and bulky anymore, like the previous games. Reverting back to the other Gears games is no longer an option as Gears 3’s controls make game play effortless.

Gears 3 is an amazing game. Epic Games crams so much into this game that it’s actually a bargain at $60. Four downloadable content updates were announced to come out over the next year that will add to the campaign and other modes. Every game type has so much replay value on it and so much to do that you’ll be coming back to it for months. 

If you have an Xbox 360, do yourself a favor and at least rent this game. In my opinion it’s a must own.

GRADE: 9.5 / 10

Click Here For A Video Showing Some of the Features Discussed in the Review.


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