Gears Of War 3 [Review]

  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Published by: Microsoft
  • Developed by: Epic Games
  • Genre: Third Person Action Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: M for Mature
  • Number of Players: 1-2, co-op 2-5, online multiplayer 2-10
  • Release Date: Worldwide: September 20th, 2011

I’ve been gaming since the 1980’s and since then I can count on a single hand how many games I’ve played that I’d consider a masterpiece. The last true game that I played and would be considered such would probably be Zelda: Ocarina Of Time for the Nintendo 64 all of those years ago. I remember feeling completely satisfied when I finished Ocarina Of Time for the first time and I feel just as satisfied with Gears Of War 3. I truly believe Cliff Bleszinski meant it when he said he wanted to create the quintessential Xbox 360 title, which he believed Halo 2 to be for the original Xbox. It was something he aspired for and I believe he has accomplished that goal undoubtedly with the release of Gears Of War 3.

Other developers and companies could definitely learn something about how to create and market a true AAA title in this day and age. Nearly two million in pre-orders alone and an anticipation that has been unmatched in recent gaming history. Other then Halo 3, I can’t think of a single game that has garnered so much attention and has been this highly sought after. Thousands of people braved the craziness that is the midnight launch to get their hands on a copy of Gears Of War 3, people were shaving Gears Of War logo’s in their hair, showing off varies Gears tattoos and sharing their expectations for the latest Gears Of War title. It was a night of high hopes to say the least. Normally I would have had this review up yesterday sometime, but I wanted to make sure I took my time playing through the campaign, testing the online, the Hoard Mode and the new Beast Mode. I didn’t want to just give this game a score without putting it completely through the paces. I spent almost twenty hours with this game the day it released, so I believe that puts me in an excellent position to review this game completely.

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I will start off with the campaign, it’s not too often when a game with such strong online component has this great of a campaign. I know some people who strictly play Gears Of War games for the campaign. One of the main reasons is that the online community is so die hard and it takes a lot of skill to master Gears Of War online, where as some other online games are more easily accessible for everyone. The Gears 3 campaign is complete and action packed. I will say it answers pretty much every question you might have from the first two Gears Of War games, they did a brilliant job with the continuity of the three stories, they also tie up all of the loose ends nicely. I think most people have seen the trailers for Gears Of War 3, so they probably know Marcus Fenix’s father who we all thought died before the events in the first Gears Of War, is actually very much alive. Gears Of War 3 takes place two years after the fall of Jacinto, the start of the game sees you start off on a ship full of fellow COG members, most you’ll remember from previous Gears games, but there are some new faces as well.

The Gears find themselves facing two enemies in the regular Locust as well as the new Lambent strain of the Locust, this isn’t the typical “enemy of my enemy is my friend” story however. Nobody is on the Gears side and they only have themselves to rely on. Gears 3 is heavy with the bromance that we’ve all come to know and love. Marcus and Dom are two of the most likable characters this generation, that’s not to say that the other characters in the game aren’t likable. We get much more of a glimpse at The Cole Train (whoooooo!) in this installment, you wouldn’t think a game that is so filled with absolute action would also have it’s fair share of heartfelt moments, but it certainly does. When Cole Train goes back to where he used to live in search of supplies we see that he is still looked at as a hero. You really feel for him when he goes to the Cougars stadium and finds his old locker and puts his old helmet on. It’s definitely one of the goose bump moments that draw you deeper into the game.

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You start off playing Marcus Fenix of course, but your squad will change from time to time. On one mission you might have Marcus, Dom, Anya and Jace and the next you’ll have Cole, Baird, Carmine and Sam. The story switches it up on you and I think that keeps things relatively fresh and interesting. Even with all the horrible things going on in the world, Marcus decides to go after his father, who turns out is being held hostage by the Locust Queen Myrrah. She wants him to create a way to destroy the Lambent without harming the normal Locust. I really don’t want to give away too much more on the story, but I will say the game took me around eleven hours to beat on the normal setting with three other co-op players. I can imagine it taking fifteen hours or longer on the insane setting, there are lots of collectibles and COG Tags to find throughout the game as well. This adds to the replay factor and since you need to beat the game once to unlock the ability to play the insane setting, gives you incentive to play through again and again.

I love how Epic Games seems to have listened to what the people actually wanted, people in general complained about the lack of boss fights in Gears 2 and that problem is addressed in kind in Gears Of War 3. The campaign is easily the longest of any of the Gears games, the graphics have been upgraded and the Unreal Engine 3.5 looks absolutely stunning. Gears Of War 3’s graphics are some of the top you’ll see on any console this generation, Epic Games is using more colors than every before, so now we have some really nice, lush, beautiful environments, now saying Gears 3 has some of the top graphics this generation might seem a bit controversial, but it’s just how it is. Epic Games has done a wonderful job with pumping out graphics like this on the Xbox 360, if other developers can do similar things with the Xbox 360, I don’t see a need for a new Xbox console for at least a couple of more years, it’s that amazing. The score is another thing that leaps out at you, it’s one of the best soundtracks since the Halo games, everything is scored perfectly and fits in so well, you know it’s an amazing soundtrack when your co-op partners are mentioning how great it is. All in all the Gears Of War 3 campaign gives you more than enough time to justify its purchase. There were absolutely no glitches, issues or anything with the Gears 3 campaign. I’d also like to say that this truly feels like an ending, not like how some games play at their games being “the end” of a trilogy only to be carried on. This game wraps up this particular story arc, not every ending is happy and not everyone you’ve grown to like in the games will survive. Gears Of War 3 has a proper start, middle and ending.

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Now on to the multiplayer aspects of Gears Of War 3. The standard multiplayer is back and better than ever, thanks in large part to dedicated servers. There is no more of that annoying host advantage, you know what I’m talking about if you played Gears 1 or 2 online. If you had host you could seriously kill everyone with a single shot of your shotgun. Gears 3 is much more balanced and there are a lot of new weapons to like and choose from. The Retro Lancer is a weapon that has a bayonet fixed at the end and you have the ability to charge an enemy and impale them, the drawback is that your vulnerable once you’ve started your run. Other new weapons include the Digger, which is a grenade that launches underground and then pops up in front of your enemy for the kill. The One Shot is pretty much just like it sounds, it’s a one shot kill, kind of a cross between a sniper rifle and the Hammer Of Dawn. There are also incendiary grenades, which are a nice addition to the standard frags, smoke and ink grenades.

There is also a new Team Death Match mode that is a very welcomed addition to the game. It’s probably my favorite game type because you can actually spawn back in when you die, of course you share reinforcements with your whole team, so if you have a teammate that dies a lot that is less times you’ll be able to spawn back in. Warzone and Submission are back as well. The overall map designs are beautiful and there are a nice mixture between small, medium and larger maps. There are weapon skins and medal you earn for doing certain things in the game as well, this is a great addition and adds a lot to the play-ability factor as well. It gives you something extra to work for, much like how Call Of Duty lets you make emblems and unlock camo and things like that.

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The Hoard mode is back and better than ever, it’s actually incorporated some tower defense ideas and this is something I used to do in Gears Of War 2 with friends already, but they have taken it to the next level. In Gears Of War 2 my friends and I would use the shields and make us barriers and from what I have seen a lot of other people have done this as well. So now Epic Games has given us the chance to purchase barriers and turrets and different things like that to help us survive wave after wave of evil locusts. Think of it as a cross between zombie mode on a Treyarch made Call Of Duty game and a tower defense game. It mixes perfectly and you can literally play for hours and days and weeks on this mode alone.

Beast Mode is a new game mode where you actually get the chance to play as your favorite beasts, if you’ve ever wanted to play as an annoying Ticker and see what that’s like, then this is the game mode for you. The rules are simple, kill as many humans as you can within the time allotted. There are different waves much like Hoard Mode, but your part of the Hoard instead of the COG. There are many different beasts to choose from, but watch out because the COG have traps everywhere, defenses set up and are hunkered down for a fight. This is one of the most inventive additions in a series I’ve ever seen. It’s as much fun to play as it sounds.

Gears Of War 3 is a rare game, it exceeds what the first two Gears games did and it actually improves upon what was already a very stellar foundation. Obviously this wont be the last Gears Of War game, but this is the last in this story arc and probably for these particular characters, we might see a prequel or some new threat years down the road, but these current characters have given us all quite a ride. We will have a game that we can enjoy for years to come. Even if you’ve never played a Gears Of War game, this is a MUST HAVE title. It’s my own personal opinion that Gears Of War 3 is Epic Games best effort to date, it’s also hands down the best game on the Xbox 360. I can’t stress enough what a value this game is with all that it has to offer. I also don’t give out this type of score often, but this is definitely a Game Of The Year front-runner and the best game I’ve played since Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.

FINAL SCORE: 10/10 

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