Is this really the end? Epic has given us the third game in the Gears of War franchise and from the sounds of it; it’s the end of Marcus Fenix’s arc. Well, if that’s true then Marcus’s story has gone out with a satisfying ending in Epic’s latest third person shooter.
Gears of War 3 has Marcus and his band of merry men, and now women, two years after you flooded ole Jacinto and you all are now living on the island of Vectes. Marcus has now grown a beard and a love of radishes it seems. It’s not long in the game before the Lambent infected Locust attack and you’re on your way to saving the world from Myrrah and her horde. Along the way you’ll find out more about Marcus’s father as the story is mainly Marcus’s search for his dad and finally the elimination of both the Locust and Lambent.
The game’s main story starts out OK, but gets a lot stronger toward the end. The structure of how it unfolds should be pretty familiar with those who’ve played one of the previous games. You’ll get stretches of furious fighting along with periods of slow dialogue and walking around admiring the scenery. In reality, Gears 3 didn’t really change up the formula that made the other two so successful. And because of that, some folks will see it as just the same thing. The game’s been tweaked here and there and those that want something really new will be disappointed. I, on the other hand, went in thinking it would be mostly the same as 1 and 2 with some minor improvements and in that respect, for the single player campaign, Gears of War 3 is exactly what I expected. I was pretty satisfied with the final battle in 3; something that I thought was really weak in 2. This time around, you do get a lot more sense of danger and it lasts a lot longer as well.
With Gears of War 3, the co-op play has been bumped up to four people. One of the great things about the previous game was the ability for a friend to jump in and out of your campaign at will. Now, three others can join in as well. While it’s great to have a few more friends to play with, this seemed to make the game a lot easier. Even playing by myself, I didn’t hesitate to charge into combat like I did before. With three others in tow, there was a good chance they would revive me before one of the enemies took me down. The only times I really felt I was in danger was when a Brumak was attacking and he could step on me and end my life instantly. Other than that, having three other squad members made it a lot less difficult when compared to the previous two games.
As you progress throughout the story, you’ll actually partake in another squad of four. This time with Cole, Baird, a new female Gear in Samantha Byrne, and one of the last surviving Carmine brothers in Clay. You’ll switch halfway to their story and how they help Marcus and his crew takes down a Leviathan. I actually like the change up in taking part in another squad’s story and experiencing some of the same events as Marcus but from a different perspective.
A few new weapons make their way into the game that I do enjoy. The retro-lancer lets you charge at someone and skewer them with the long blade on the front. One of the more interesting and maybe misunderstood new weapons in the game is the Digger. I’ve read a few folks saying how useless this weapon is, but the more you practice with it, you’ll see the big benefit. The Digger has the power of a grenade and the ability to tunnel underneath barriers. So for those enemies that love to just stick behind cover, get close enough and shoot one of these at them to give them a nasty surprise. Also, sticking one right into someone gives a pretty cool mangling effect on the person before it explodes. It has a limited range like the grenade, but can be a very powerful weapon when used correctly. I will say the cleavers are pretty useless though, but they can be a humiliating kill since you have to be in melee range. You also get to pilot a loader called the Silverback, which is similar to the loader in Aliens but with guns. It’s got some nice firepower as well as being able to take out obstacles that are in your way. The Silverback also makes an appearance in Horde mode, and is one of the nicer additions to the game.
Along with new weapons come new enemies to take out as well. A few new additions round out an already strong cast of enemies that were introduced in the other two games. Some of the Lambent Locusts will morph into another type of enemy when you take them down initially. One can morph into a monster whereby its head can be detached after being taken down and come after you still. Of course, they’ll explode when you kill them and it seems Epic toned down the amount of damage, at least in normal mode, that the exploding Lambent does as well. The new Gunker is a powerful imulsion throwing monster than can take you down quick and can take a lot of damage.
Graphics wise, Gears of War 3 to me seems like a small, but nice improvement over 2. I did see more of a jump from 1 to 2, but I didn’t notice it as much from 2 to 3. That could be a testament to how well the second game looked, but the graphics in Gears of War 3 are still top notch for the Xbox 360. There are some really nice fire effects and the environments are vast at times. The character models are a little more detailed, although for some reason I like the face of Marcus in the second game better than this one. Gears of War 3’s an impressive looking game for sure, but players of the first two will probably not see it being all that much of an improvement.
Voice acting is what you should come to expect from a Gears game. You’ll probably roll your eyes a few times at the dialogue that Cole and Baird spout out, but the voices for Marcus, Dom, Anya, and Samantha are done well in my opinion. Ice T makes an appearance about half way through the game and you know it’s not much of a stretch for Ice T in both dialogue and voice acting. Gears 3 won’t win any awards for strong dialogue, but I didn’t find it as annoying as I did the second game.
Multiplayer for Gears of War 3 gets a nice improvement. I played a ton of Horde mode in the second game, and Horde 2.0 adds a lot more strategy to it. You’re now given cash and a base that you can upgrade by earning more money. How do you earn more money? Well, killing and completing some tasks of course. You can fortify your area with things such as spikes, turrets, and electric fences and it’s best to work as a team to make sure you have a good enough defenses for the next wave. While you had the simple way of fortifying in Gears of War 2 with setting up shields, Horde 2.0 takes it to a whole new level with upgradable fortifications on the map. Also, the wave of monsters are a little bit more random now and there are now boss waves where you have to take out the support crew and finish off a Brumak or a Beserker to name a few. Ammo and weapons are no longer free unless you pick them up from a downed enemy. Finally, a nice little pop up map is available in case you are not familiar with where everything is. Horde mode has definitely been changed up for Gears of War 3 and I really enjoy the new features added to an already fun mode.
Beast mode is the opposite of Horde mode where you take on the roles of the Locust and Lambent and try to kill as many of the COG and humans as possible. Think of it as being the Infected in Left for Dead versus mode. You’ll get multiple respawns in this mode since you are meant to die a few times and here the money is used to upgrade to better monsters to spawn into. You also have a limited amount of time to take out the humans or the Hammer of Dawn comes down and takes you all out. There’s a countdown that you see, but destroying certain fortifications and enemies will add time. Heroes make an appearance and are tougher to kill. Heroes include the main COG characters of the campaign and the Onyx Guard. Beast mode is so much fun and it’s probably going to replace Horde mode as my multiplayer mode to play. I don’t know why, but like Versus in Left 4 Dead, it’s just a lot more fun for me to play as the enemy and be on the offensive.
You do get the usual deathmatch modes along with a new Capture the Leader mode where the leader designated for the team can’t be killed but can be downed. The objective is to down the leader and hold him as a meat shield for 30 seconds. The leader can also give tactical cues to his teammates such as where an enemy is or where an item is.
Gears 3 has a multitude of multiplayer modes, but the two I really enjoy are Horde and Beast mode. Both offer up a ton of fun and replay value for me and I can see myself spending a ton of time, as I did in 2, on these two modes.
Gears of War 3 is a nice end to the trilogy with a solid single player campaign and some great multiplayer additions. The new enemies are fun to fight against and the new weapons have their uses. I love the new Beast mode and really enjoy the additions to Horde mode as well. I think Epic did a great job in finishing strong with Gears of War 3 and there’s a lot of value in this game in both single and multiplayer modes available. The formula hasn’t changed too much and that can be a good and bad thing depending on what you expected. I still had a ton of fun with the game and I know I’ll continue to have a great deal of fun for the months to come.