Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Rating Guide: How I Review Games
Before I start my breakdown of Gears of War 3, let me just say that I love the series. I’m a huge fan of the game. There probably isn’t a bigger fan than me of this franchise. I think I must have played Horde mode and Gears of War 2 about a bazillion times. It was the video game industry’s version of addiction to me.
The latest entry (and final possibly) was one of my most anticipated sequels of all time. I helped launch the game as matter of fact. I enjoyed Gears of War 3 quite a bit. Was that because I’m such a huge fan? I’d have to say for the most part it was. But will it be enough for those who aren’t die hard fans like I am?
Despite what you’ve heard or read, this is the only Gears of War 3 review you should pay attention to. Prepare to head to COG Town … whoooo!
Gameplay, Graphics and Sound
Marcus Fenix, Dom, Baird, Cole Train and the rest of the COG return to finish the fight against the Locust and the newly found threat, the Lambent. Along with the fearsome foursome come the female COG for you to control. You get to play as Anya Stroud and also Sam. You’re all trying to figure out how to stop the Locust threat once and for all. You also end up on a mission to find Adam Fenix, Marcus’ father. And that is where your journey begins. There are quite a few new characters you get to interact with and sometimes play. I thought Ice-T’s Griffin was pretty interesting to say the least.
Typically each mission has you alongside Dom, Jace Stratton, Cole, Baird, Anya and Sam. For the most part the AI of your squad is sufficient. But it is a bit disappointing at times. There were plenty of times when they simply refused to push the fight and instead waited on me to come in and kill. There were also times when for some strange reason my character would get stuck in aiming mode. Coming from a cutscene I’d just be stuck in aiming mode or I wasn’t allowed to switch weapons. And no I’m not talking about when Marcus was walking and you weren’t allowed to switch. It was during battle. It was weird.
The same goes for the enemy AI. The Locust and Lambent aren’t real clever in the game. Many times they’d stay in cover while you were shoulder to shoulder. You can literally just run up and chainsaw them with no Locust attempt to counter. Of course increasing the difficulty will help but that’s no excuse to dumb the AI down during the normal level. Outside of spotty AI and a few glitches, the gameplay in Gears of War 3 is superb. There is no better game at the 3rd person ‘shoot and cover’ than this one. It plays so much better than the other two games combined. From now on this is the way you make a game! The gameplay was just near perfect. Everything about the way you control the characters has been fine tuned. Running, sliding into cover, movement … it was all very fluid.
It did have its questionable choices though. For instance, the ammo in the game is handled differently than before. Normally when you pick up an ammo box, any weapon you had would increase its ammo count. However, now you only get an ammo increase for your main weapons. Those include the Lancer, Retro, Gnasher and Sawed-Off. You do not get an ammo increase for the Longshot, Boomshot and other “big guns” unless you pick up the same weapon type on the battlefield. I thought this was a pointless change. Why change the way ammo is handled in the game?
There is also a new mode to Gears 3 this time around called Arcade. In it you gain points for progress and performance during the campaign. It’s a way to compete for the best score against others. You can also turn on the newly minted Mutators in this mode. Remember the Easter bunny heads during the beta? Mutators are things like that. You can change the rules of the game and add some different elements to it via Mutators.
A huge bright spot in the game is its co-operative play. It’s quite naturally one of its strongest elements. You and some buddies can join up and fight the good fight. Epic made it extremely easy for you to join a friend’s game. In fact, sometimes it’s so easy that the person doesn’t even know you’ve joined. It was a perfect implementation of co-op magic. Is there anything better than 4-player co-op? Nope.
I have a strange feeling that at some point Epic is going to introduce in-game cash DLC for you to buy.
Beyond the smooth gameplay is the threat that you’re using that gameplay against. The decision to center the game on the Lambent made for a less than frightening experience. I felt no threat at all throughout the game actually. Epic could’ve given more attention to defining the Lambent and their history. They could’ve given something to the enemy in order to introduce a new threat. We got a taste of the Lambent in Gears 2 but they could’ve developed that taste. As it stands, they simply assume that the player will know to be afraid. However, there were no key moments during the game that stood out as an “oh shit, I gotta fight that” moment. I wish they had given an introduction into the new Lambent or the new armored Kantus creatures to make them a species to fear. And where were the big Boss battles? The only one worth remembering was the final one.
I think Epic Games decided to play it safe with Gears of War 3. Instead of following the “bigger, badder, more bad ass” philosophy they gave fans something that was not badder and with only a hint of bad ass. It was bigger though. The size of the world and its design was much bigger. Make no mistake that Gears of War 3 is definitely a game you can enjoy. But for fans of the franchise it doesn’t go out with a bang at all. Gears of War 3 limped to the finish line with a story that was mostly predictable. It was a much softer experience and no amount of cuss words will change that.
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