Epic games crown jewel--Gears of War-- is gearing up for its 3rd installment in the series and looking to capitalize on the mass popularity that the first two games developed. Gears of War 3 takes you on a roller coaster ride of non stop action and delivers it's most addictive game yet that keeps you wanting more.
Gears of War 3 takes place 2 years after the sinking of Jacinto. It opens up with some homage to the first game but instead of Dom releasing you from prison, it's Anya with your gear in a duffel bag. You're not really in prison as you are treated to a dream of the events which cause Marcus' incarceration. Right off the bat, you learn one of the many unanswered questions left by the first two games--something I was PRAYING they would do. So far so good.
Once you awaken, you are on board a vessel where some of the few stranded COG soldiers reside.
Marcus is told via intercom, that Prescott-former COG- would be arriving. Since Prescott left the COG, the force broke down and scattered and Marcus wants to know his reasoning for it.
While waiting for his helicopter to land the ship is attacked by Lambent forces-a new threat to humanity. That peaceful vibe you got is now over and it's time to get back down to business.
Skip ahead, Prescott lands and tells Marcus some unexpected (yet pleasant news). You know have your mission and it's time to finally end this war.
Epic makes sure to answer the important questions that were left behind as you find out about who the Lambent are and how they came to be. You find out some dirty secrets the government have been keeping,the Queens purpose in all of this and the truth about E-Day and why it happened. Gears of War 3 ties up most of the loose ends to make the whole story come together and finally make sense of what the hell has been going on. Did I mention you find out how Tickers are made!? Biggest question of them all!
Gears 3 greatly improves it's story telling by giving you plenty of cut scenes to explain the story in a pace that doesn't take away from the action.
Unlike the previous Gears of War games-Gears 3 starts off a bit slow. It leaves you with the feeling that the sinking of the last city actually did some good. There is also a quite a bit of cut scenes in the beginning that breaks up gameplay a little too frequently but eventually the pace picks up and once it does, it doesn't stop.
What you come to except from the series is in tact with a few subtle differences to the mechanics. Still got the cover system, heatlh regeneration and that little reload mini-type game. They added a tagging system with brings up a marker above the enemies head. This is very useful in multiplayer.
Veterans to Gears will feel right at home and ready to kick ass and chew some bubble gum. Newbies will have to adjust but fortunately for them, Epic Games decided to dumb it down a bit...to my disliking.
Early in the game you are constantly bombarded with hints,clues and how to use the weapons you pick up. You have the option to turn off hints but come on...I picked "Hardcore" for a reason.
Speaking of difficulty, Gears of War 3 is without a doubt the easiest game of the series. Hardcore provided little challenge and it's all because of one new feature--the ability to be revived by your teammates. When you get hit with an explosive you don't shatter into a million pieces or get torn apart by a shotgun. You go into the death animation where you're crawling and waiting to be revived. Because of this, I didn't use any strategy or use caution because there essentially is no consequence for rushing recklessly or popping your head out one too many times. Well, I guess there is some consqeuences because while you wait to get revived you have the displeasure to watch the terrible team AI run past you and act like you aren't dying. It's very frustrating. Fortunately, that's where the negativity stops.
As mentioned, Gears 3 has non stop action. There have been plenty of times where I have ran out of Ammunition on all 3 weapons because you are always in battle. There is a lot of ammunition laying around too so it's not like it's scarce. At times I felt this game had the most enemies on screen than any game in the series at once. Since you are fighting both the Lambent and Locusts, there are double the enemies to worry about. You're either fighting one or the other but sometimes they both will appear and try to kill you and each other in a smorgasbord of fun! There are also a few new editions to the Locust family, some big, some huge, some cute, most ugly.
During these tough times you are given some new weapons to help you in this time of war. The Bayonet type Retro Lancer that has a sweet execution move,the heavy "One Shot" sniper rifle that will obliterate any enemy in once shot--hence the name.
Some new weapons I found pointless like the Digger-which deploys an underground rocket-sounds cool but doesn't really work out that well and incendiary grenades that ignite the ground in flames. Once again, sounds useful but enemies seem to always evade them even when placed perfectly.
There are some small changes to pre-existing weapons like the Hammerburst which has a FPS view in mode and the Gorgon Pistol is fully automatic.
Not only do you get some new weapons but you get some new vehicles like a Submarine or a Mech suit equipped with a rocket launcher and machine gun. You also get to operate a Locust Catapult.
A lot of changes for the online portion of Gears 3 as well as the new Beast Mode which put you in the shoes (do they wear shoes?) of a Locust. There is a wide verity of Locust to choose from and they all feel unique with their own set of abilities and controls completely different. I quickly found out how much fun Beast Mode is. Epic has adopted a currency system (similar to Counter Strike) where you need to earn money before being able to purchase the more bigger and stronger Locusts. Unfortunately, there are only 12 waves to Beast Mode so by the time you earn enough money to get the better Locusts, the game is over.
Horde Mode has taken a big makeover and made 10 times more badass. The currency system is present here as well as you are able to fortify your surrounding areas with turrets, barbwire, ect. The more you build, the more your skills level up to build better and stronger equipment. You can also purchase a plethora of weapons from the ground or restock on ammo.
A another change to Horde mode is you get to fight something other than tickers! Gears 2 Horde mode was fun but it got a little boring just killing tickers only. Gears 3 fixes that and launches all sorts of enemies you encounter from the campaign. I think after every 10 rounds you have to deal with a boss fight. Furthest I got was round 17 but during round 10 I had to fight a Brumack.
Multiplayer is easier to connect to and you don't have to wait for loading when you go into this portion of the game-it's all at the home screen so going in and finding a game or creating a party is one click away. From the main menu you can access your online stats, ribbons and medals earned and decorate your weapon with many skins.
When you complete a match, you don't get kicked to the lobby and have to wait to find a game. The match boots itself up and gets you into the action faster than ever before. There have been some problems getting into a game but I can only blame my "Moderate NAT type".
I wasn't a big online fan of Gear 1 or 2 but Gears 3 does so much right and fixes past issues to make this a fun online experience.
From the start you'll notice a clean smooth interface and gets you in and out of multiplayer matches as soon as possible, gives you yours stats and awards you earned and co op all on one page. It's much easier to navigate and find what you're looking for.
In game, everything is cleaner and smoother as well. Something I noticed with the Gears game in this department his how much it improves with each iteration. You can go from Gears 1 to Gears 3 and notice some big differences.
The character models look a little bit slimmer, more defined and evenly proportioned (Although Anya looks out of place). Facial expressions, animations and something as small as your armor shoulder pads flow fluidly with great physics. There are more females around too which should please the same sex.....or opposite as well.
Lambent-although ugly- are beautifully designed as they glow a neon orangy-yellish from the Imulsion. When killing a Lambent, they explode spraying the liquid all around illuminating the ground, wall or on the screen. The bigger they are, the bigger the explosion which is pleasing to the eye.
The level designs look just as good. In Gears you are always exploring different locations so you can expect new environments that are beautifully crafted. The amount of detail to textures, lighting and shading help put you in the mindset that you-know-what has hit the fan.
As you progress through the game you'll go through a City, Char. It was one the cities attack by the Hammer of Dawn leaving nothing but destruction in it's path. The city is littered with rubble, destroyed sky scrappers and unfortunate souls frozen in time, reduced to nothing but standing ash leaving an outline of their bodies. The artistic back rounds are sure to leave you in awe as you traverse through many different levels.
The soundtrack is a bit lacking as it's probably the only aspect of Gears 3 that I though wasn't as good as the other entries in the series. It has it's moments and brings back a familiar tune that was once the theme of one of it's trailers.
Voice Acting is top notch and all the familiar faces are back. It's a lot more powerful this time around since there are a couple of emotional moments for the COG soldiers. It define their character and makes them look human instead of this barbaric war machines.
Guns sound a little more powerful and Tickers still give me the creeps with their "ticking" noise.
Lambent to Locust, Weapons to Explosions, they each all have a distinct, unmistakable sound which makes you able to identify who the enemies is and what weapon is being used.
My first impressions of the game wasn't that good. I thought started off a little slow and you had to play through a pointless filler at the very beginning. Looking back at it now, I don't know what I was thinking. The filler builds Cole's character and it didn't start off that slow. Anyway, I never wanted to put the controller down once I shot the first bullet. I NEVER beat a game in one sitting but that's what I did--I was that hooked.
You never find yourself with your finder off the trigger for too long, you are ALWAYS shooting something whether on foot or in a Submarine.
Since I did beat it in one sitting, the game isn't too long but it isn't too short either. Due to it's outstanding multiplayer features, you can do it all over again in 4 player Co-Op. Insane is next on my list.
Epic does something that not many developers can do or even achieve when making a series--and that's creating a game that it better than it's predecessor. Gears of War set the bar pretty high (8.5), Gears of War 2 then introduced new things and improved the overall quality to all aspects of the game (9.0), then comes along Gear of War 3 and just does everything better and delivers you a wonderful gaming experience.