Polish off those Lancers, it’s time to do some shootin’.
It may seem strange to begin this review by talking about the multiplayer, but that was where my Gears of War 3 experience began. The thing is, I am not really that bothered about the various different multiplayer options usually, I prefer to spend my time working through the single-player. However, this time around, something grabbed me.
Maybe it was taking part in the Beta? I don’t know. But this is, I think, the first time that I have gone straight for the multiplayer and literally had to drag myself away to look at the single-player campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that I did as the single-player campaign, which can also be played in co-op, is an absolutely stunning experience, which I shall talk about later. But from the moment I started playing Team Deathmatch, which is one of the match types in Versus mode, I just couldn’t put it down.
The five on five Versus mode comes with a variety of different match types, including the standards such as Team Deathmatch or King of the Hill, and also some slightly more unusual matches, like Execution which forces players to perform execution kills to score, and Wingman, which puts the players into teams of two.
Whichever match type you choose, the action is going to be fast and brutal. The variety of the maps that ship with the game will offer the more experienced GoW3 player plenty of strategic opportunites, whilst newcomers to the series will still find themselves being able to hold their own and even manage a few kills. The chaos of the the game is such that all but the best players will find themselves dying quite regularly, but the feeling of your first chainsaw kill will easily make up for it.
But it is the little things that make the game truly compelling in multiplayer. The snap-to cover which works so perfectly, crawling into cover and tapping A to revive yourself before an opponent comes over to finish the job, having to sink a ton of bullets into an enemy to take them down, getting hold of one of the special weapons and then realising it is more trouble to use than it is worth. These are all things that, as a relative newcomer to the GoW multiplayer game, made me keep coming back for more. Of course, Gears veterans will already know all of this and likely be laughing at the awe I feel with the multiplayer game. But this is probably the first multiplayer game where I can go out and get shot 15 times in a match and still enjoy myself.
Besides the Versus mode, there is also the return of Horde mode and the new Beast mode. These co-op modes will see the player taking on wave after wave of AI enemies. Horde mode has 50 waves with a boss every 10th wave, and the players will be rewarded in between waves with Cash that can be used to buy fortifications and other items that will aid their survival. Beast mode is a variant on this with the players taking on the roles of the Locust. Both of these modes are fun, offer something a bit different and are a welcome addition to an already bulging package of gaming goodness.
It is true that the multiplayer in Gears of War 3 is pretty damn impressive, and it will keep players coming back long after they complete the single-player game. But I would wager that it is that very campaign that will stay in their heads for the longest time. Epic have really outdone themselves this time, combining a gritty reality with incredible level design and a compelling story. Gears of War 3 may be the final installment in this particular sotry arc, but damn, does it go out in style!
Following on from where Gears 2 left off, Marcus, Dom and fellow COG members are now residing on giant ships after the destruction of the last human city on Sera. Never destined for a quite life, they are having to deal with the threat posed by the Lambent, a new species mutated by Imulsion that are born of glowing orange pods on massive stalks that erupt from the ground. Such is the threat of the Lambent, even the Locust have been forced to the surface.
Things get interesting for the team when Chairman Prescott turns up with proof that Marcus’ father is alive and held captive by the Locust. What begins as a rescue mission to save his father could leave Marcus responsible for saving the world. No pressure then.
The acts and chapters in the campaign should keep the average player busy for a good 10 hours, and will see them fighting their way through a variety of different terrains. The levels through which the player travels are massive and incredibly well laid out, with barely a minute of peace between one conflict and the next. Having to deal with two different types of enemies, who are in conflict with each other as well, keeps things interesting and even provides some challenging three-way battles.
But what makes Gears 3 really impressive is the story-telling, which is a marked improvement over the last installment. Cut-scenes help to develop the various characters and leave the player invested in their plight. Flashbacks to previous lives further add to the depth and the constant quipping between the characters, even during the most desperate situations, raises the game and prevents it from becoming too heavy and hopeless. There is no denying that Marcus and his team are up against near insurmountable odds, but the fact that the characters can add some humour to this grim situation makes them even more endearing.
Gears of War 3 is by far the best game of the series, and I am really struggling to find anything negative to say. The multiplayer is compelling and the campaign is engrossing and spins a good yarn. The few new weapons added don’t really outshine what was already there, but that’s no big deal.
Gears of War 3 is a must-have game for all Xbox360 owners of the appropriate age. As it stands right now, it is already one of the best games of the year. With DLC in the pipeline, it can only get better. Heartily recommended to everyone, buy it now!