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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Oct 3, 2011

Review – Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)

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Product Information

MSRP: $59.99
Publisher: Microsoft Developer: Epic Games
Platform: Xbox 360 Rating: M for Mature
Genre: Third-Person Action/Shooter

Over the years since its launch I’ve found myself becoming a bigger and bigger Gears of War fan. Not only did it redefine the shooter genre when it released for the Xbox 360 originally back in November of 2006, but it’s become a standard for many hardcore gamers across the world. Epic Games has done an amazing job presenting a hard-hitting, gritty shooter for players to sink their teeth into and fuel their need to survive. This September marked the release of the final title in the franchise, and it closed a lot of doors that the developer left open. I finally got the game in my hands, and have spent many hours tearing Locust limb from limb. In between the bullets and sounds of chainsaws lies a review for the game. Let’s get into it.

Story and Presentation

With Gears of War 3 comes an ending to a story that’s expanded five years of hard work from developer Epic Games. This third entry into the series explores the final stand of Marcus Fenix and his comrades as they struggle to fight off the Locusts who have resurfaced, along with a new menace called the Lambent. The Lambent are Locust that have succumbed to so much Imulsion that it has seriously mutated them.

The game starts with Fenix awaking from a bad dream upon an airship carrier. He is called to duty as the carrier enters Lambent waters, and gathers his team mates to head up on-deck to assess the situation. As the group heads above the crew quarters the ship is overrun by Lambent infantry and a routine check turns into a fight for survival.

After securing the carrier, though it gets taken out by a Leviathan creature, Marcus discovers that things aren’t as he’s figured over the years as his father is still alive. With the help of Cole, Baird, Jace, Anya, and Sam, he makes his way to help decode a left-behind message to locate his father and put an end to the menace that’s been plaguing Sera once and for all. The story is compelling, and honestly left me with my mouth wide open at the end. Epic certainly didn’t want to leave any stone unturned, and even leaves players behind with a heart in their chest that skips a beat.

Along with an ending comes a great presentation in the form of graphics. This is simply the best-looking Gears title available. The motion detection, face mapping, and environments look more lifelike and realistic. While the game retains its gritty nature and looks, Gears of War 3 is presented to players with a brand new skin, making it look just as enticing to watch as to play.

Gameplay and Multiplayer

Returning to the series is the grand use of cover, team-based tactics, and strategy that is the core of every Gears player out there. Some mechanics have been reworked, some have been added, and some have taken a leave from the series. For instance, the pseudo inventory system has been upgraded, making it easier to differentiate from what a player has and what’s lying around for the taking. It’s not so easy to get confused when looking for ammo and weapon pickups. New types of grenades have made it into the game, as well as new weapons such as the Retro Lancer. This means that there are plenty of new ways to dispose of troublesome enemies and that puts a smile on the many maniacal faces of Gears fans out there.

One thing I want to mention about the gameplay is that the AI in the campaign mode are much smarter than their Gears 1 and 2 counterparts. They’re even more competent than most of the bots you’ll play with through the game’s many multiplayer modes. This was a refreshing change to the previous titles, and stifled a lot of ragequits that would normally plague me as I ran through the game.

On the other hand, as I mentioned, the AI bots in Horde and VS mode are almost horrible. They will follow enemies without firing a shot, leave you bleeding out without raising a hand to help, and act as standing targets ripe for the killing. If you’re a good enough player, though, you can take the upper hand easily enough, but it will take some work. If you’re thinking of turning up the difficulty in attempts to make your AI bots more helpful, you can stop there. I can tell you it only makes things worse.

In speaking of multiplayer, however, Gears of War 3 has enough content to keep players set for a long while. I remember in Gears 2 there were aggravating lag times, tough menus to navigate, server issues, and much more that plagued the game. With the new title it seems these issues mostly vanish, providing players with the Gears multiplayer experience they’ve been waiting for. After giving each of the modes a run-through, I’m happy to say that it’s a definite step up from the issues we had with Gears of War 2. Epic has devoted a lot of time to tuning the multiplayer, and worked up dedicated servers, fine-tuned the whole matchmaking experience, and added their own touch to each of the game’s multiplayer modes. With the improved Horde 2.0 system, players can team up with four friends to earn cash that will help add fortifications, turrets, and other tools to help stay alive against the many waves of enemies they’ll face down. Of course you’ll still need to keep an eye out for the corner-rolling sawn-off kids, but it’s easy enough to fend off with the Retro Lancer’s charge impaling attack. In terms of playability in Gears of War 3, multiplayer is where it’s at, better than ever.

Conclusion

Gears of War 3 has lived up to the hype that players have been pumping into the series for years, and Epic Games have risen to their end of the bargain with producing a blockbuster title. Though there exist some glitch issues, the game overall stands at top-notch performance. It does have some of the “been-there-before” aspects that can plague sequels, but the game in no way stopped me from having an amazing experience I’ve been waiting for. If you’re a Gears fan, you need this title. If you’re not, give it a try and you will be.

The Good

  • great storyline
  • new features and weapons help make the game interesting to returning players
  • multiplayer is vast, expansive, and has seen a huge overhaul
  • more than enough content to keep players busy for a long time

The Bad

  • has potential to give players a “been-there-done-that” feeling
  • some AI is uncooperative and frustrating
  • multiplayer can be unforgiving and has a bit of a learning curve

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