Fans, including myself, have been waiting patiently for the latest Gears of War title for sometime. We had a savory month-long taste of the BETA a while back which just made the wait even more agonizing. Now we have this “series-ending” title in our eager hands. But does it live up to the hype as being the best of the series? Is it this “awesome” title that will blow all others out of the water? Will it perfectly end this amazing storyline?
With a roaring YES!
Gears of War 3 offers gamers beautiful graphics with awe-inspiring levels, a perfectly executed control systems and the most amazing graphics. The guys at EPIC have taken an amazing franchise and made it one of the best games of all time. And Gears 3 is huge. Between campaign mode, six different versus multiplayer modes and Horde and Beast mode, gamers can spend months playing without it ever getting old.
With Gears 3 being such an epic game, I’ll be breaking it up into a few section.
Fans and newbies alike will find the storyline to Gears 3 amazing. There is a perfect balance between hardcore fast-paced action and deep character and plot development. At times it felt like I was a part of some epic movie and not a video game. Cutscenes were perfectly placed so they didn’t destroy the flow of the game. We’ve all played games were the cutscenes would completely ruin the game or had poor acting and dialog. I was also a little skeptical in how the story would be wrapped up. Fans have spent years immersed in the Gears storyline and would the guys at EPIC be able to properly end it without leaving fans feeling cheated with a weak ending. Thankfully the Gears team executed everything, story-wise, perfectly with some shockers that you will have to see.
Graphics and audio were also perfectly done. With improvements in gaming technology, games are getting more detailed and life-like. Gears 3 has implemented these improvements making it one of the best looking games of all time. From the main characters to debris littering the environment, everything just looks amazing. I’ve played many games where large sets seemed empty but not Gears 3. Every digital set is expertly detailed. All of Act 4 is a great example of the detail placed in each level. It takes place in a burned out city which was destroyed by the Hammer of Dawn. The sets were so detailed which made you feel like you were in a real destroyed city. Act 4 is also a great example of the detailed placed on the audio. You can hear the crunch of debris under your boot or the wind whistling through that burnt out crumbling skyscraper across the way. It really makes you feel like you are apart of game.
Now the game mechanics have been tweaked and improved over the last one. Weapons seem smoother and have a more real life feel and weight to them. Even getting into cover has been improved. You can quickly and more easily get into cover and choose the best action to take on getting out of cover. The Tac/Com feature is also a great addition which allows you to see your fellow soldiers and objectives. With Locus coming at you from all directions and bullets flying, tac/com is a great feature to keep your focus in the game. One aspect that was missed in Gears 3 was the ability to drive vehicles. There are a few parts of the game were you ride on a vehicle and can fire at enemies but its a rail-style gameplay. I loved being able to drive the Centaur in Gears 2. Having this feature would have added a little more of that special something to the game.
The Locust are still around in Gears 3 but are not the main enemies in most of the game. The Lambent infection has spread spawning some really cool but hideous enemies. These new enemies can explode spreading toxic impulsion which makes the player rethink their tactics. Druges have the ability to morph their ligaments and heads which, again, forces your to change your tactics. Polyps are another new creature which are really interesting. They are crab-like creatures that remind me of the creatures from the movie Cloverfield. All of these new Lambent creatures can be spawned from huge Stalks which erupt from the ground during battle. They have sacs that form which spew lambent enemies onto the battlefield. These sacs can be destroyed before spewing their contents. These new enemies will force the player to rethink their tactics which were honed in Gears 2.
The traditional Locust enemy will become more involved later in the game as the story develops. Gamers will remember them form the previous game but they have been improved. Besides looking so much better, they sport new weapons and, for all enemies, an improved AI system. You’ll see the Retro Lancer being used by the Locust which is an older, more powerful lancer with a bayonet instead of a chainsaw. Its more powerful but less accurate at a continuous rate of fire. All enemies are “smarter” which helps to improve the challenge of the game but it isn’t perfect. I’ve noticed, at times, enemies still siting in a position not moving, going in circles or not paying attention to the player. It doesn’t happen often and is just a small bug but still a bug.
One last aspect of campaign mode to discuss, is how connected campaign mode is to multiplayer and how you can play co-op in campaign mode. You are now able to play up to four people in campaign mode on a local network. You can also play with two player on a single console. This is a really great feature which now allows you to play through the game with your friends. You can also play in arcade mode which allows you to compete to earn the highest score for each chapter.
Multiplayer with Versus, Horde and Beast Modes
Unlike previous multiplayer options, players of Gears of War 3 have so many options to play with other gamers online. You now have six different Versus modes, Horde mode and Beast mode which will keep gamers entertained for months. All modes allow you to player either online with friends, by yourself in a casual mode or you can create a private match to play with gamers you invite or with bots. You are also able to now share weapons, ammo and cash which was a must needed feature. It just makes any multiplayer mode that much more team oriented.
There are six different modes in Versus: Team Deathmatch, Warzone, Execution, Capture the Leader, King of the Hill and Wingman. All are really fun and offer their own unique styles and challenges. Those who had BETA access were able to experience some of these. They are all played on their own dedicated servers which makes your matches run smoother with less interruptions. I’ve never had any issues trying play one of these. I can also join a match with in seconds and have never had a game drop. They all play really smooth and are a lot of fun.
Beast and Horde Mode
These two new cooperative modes are, by far, my favorite multiplayer games. In Beast Mode, you play as one of the Locust beasts and must kill all humans and destroy their fortifications. You must last through twelve waves which gets progressively more challenging and elaborate. Each human killed or fortification destroyed earns you money which then allows you to purchase stronger beasts to use. It is so much fun to run around as a Ticker or Savage Corpser destroying every human insight. There is a nice mix of creatures to use with 15 in all. The one issue with this mode is that it is only twelve modes. I’d like to see it increased to 50 like Horde mode.
Horde Mode is an arcade-style mode which puts five players in wave after wave of increasingly difficult Locust and Lambent battles. You receive money for every killed made which allows you and your team to build fortifications to help with the defense of base. You can build decoys, barriers and sentries to help defend your base or build Turrets and Silverbacks to destroy your enemies. There are 50 waves of enemies which is a huge challenge and will keep players playing for hours. This is a solid game mode.
The biggest and really only issue is the lack of players for these modes and server issues. At times, I could wait 45 minutes for a Beast Mode. I’ve never seen more than 6000 people playing world wide which causes you to wait a long time for a match to open up. Then once you get a match the server will have issues and drop your match. You then must get placed onto another server or the match just ends. This has also happened in Horde mode with about a 20 minute wait and the same drops. This is a huge issue and was a factor in my score for this game. When I want to play 12 waves of beasts, I’d like to get on and play pretty quick. I don’t want to do the dishes or laundry while I wait. Let me just get on with other games and play. I could just play a private game with bots but it isn’t the same. This needs to be greatly improved. These are great modes and you need to experience them.
Gears of War 3 is an amazing game with perfect visuals, audio and gameplay. This is by far the most polished game I have ever played. Gears 3 also changed my mind on multiplayer features of games. My first experience was with the BETA release which was awesome and the final version in the full release sold me on multiplayer features being an important part of a game. Its just so robust with so many different modes and games to play. Its like buying Gears 3 and getting a whole other game. And the story was amazing. Fans of the series will love how this ended the story of Gears of War and new players will get sucked into this amazing world.
As amazing of a game as Gears of War 3 is, its not perfect. There are some glitches in the AI system which are not huge but are noticeable. There were also some very small graphic issues during fast-paced sections of the game with lots of elements. But the biggest issue, for me, was the major issues with Horde and Beast modes. The spotty server connections caused drops and game crashes which were horrible. The one silver lining was that the experience gained in the match wasn’t lost. Also, lack of people playing will make waiting for a match a huge negative to these great modes. Waiting 45 minutes for a match is just ridiculous. In BETA, bots were put in if there were not enough people playing a match. This feature should be added to Beast and Horde mode.
With everything said, Gears of War 3 is still a great game. Fans of the series will not be disappointed and will love how the series ended. Though there are some jaw-droppers in the game. Gears of War 3 is one of those must have games! I’ll see you on the battlegrounds.