Marcus Fenix and his muscular unit is back and with them the most craziest weapons essay in video game history. Gears of War stands for first class 3rd-person action with a lot of blood, loose body parts, cool patters, distinctive muscles, exciting and action packed position changes and guarantied awesome graphics. Precisely for these reasons the previous titles count as rolemodel for Xbox 360 graphic and gameplay experiece.
Three years are over:
Since the second part was ringing the tills and left mouths wide open. And the war between the Locust and the humans still rages. And what has happened? Now a lot and that’s good and so well known, because Gears has always stood for progress. No matter what division, it has become more and more and of course this also applies to part three of the series.
Eat with your eyes. And it tastes:
What is the one thing you immediately recognize? Right the optics. So before I get to the story, gameplay and the other stuff I will write something short about the visualisation. To nail it, I just have to say: gigantically bombastic. A major strenght of Gears of War has always been the graphical framework which bears witness of extreme high quality. You could put in your disc of Gears 2 and would see it looks still better than half of the latest console games. Gears 3 climbs once again the top of the Xbox 360 mountain. Epic squeezed out the last bit of the Unreal Engine 3 and the end result has become just great. This begins with the grand movements that go super smoothly across the stage without losing sight of the „beefy“ feeling of the protagonist and ends by the spectecular wide range of the view which gives a nice insight in the parcial colourful game world. But most of all the explotions, particle effects of light and shadow, or the armor with its many details. All that has been improved again and shows the strengths of the engine. Even the facial animations are again a tick more advanced then in the previous title. I mean clearly, the Gears games have never looked bad and for players of the second part the progress of the third part will certainly be more in detail, but newcomers should be simply blown away because that graphical framework is unrivaled on the Xbox 360 console.
The perfect mix:
Gears of War lives of its exciting and action packed shots and position changes with cool sayings. This is the core of everything and the next great streigth of „Marcus Fenix and Co.“ gameplay. At the beginning you have a little get used to it but after that you never want to control your virtual warrior any other way through the game. In the first Gears the gameplay was revolutionary but still a little notchy. In part two it was already smoother and now in part 3, well, in my opinion, this is now the crowning of 3rd person controls. The cover system is by far probably the roundest and best what you could get in that kind of games. Many actions are assigned to one and the same button. As example I’ll take that often used A-button. With just this button you can take a - forward, back, left or right - dive or walk on a cover. Behind the cover you can press A again to crouch and take actual cover. If you now walk to the edge of the cover you can change position or can jump over it with by pressing the A-button. You can also blind fire behind cover or make targeted shots, crouch and also stand upright, depending on the size of the protection. But beware, some covers also can be destroyed. You can carry four weapons at once, that includes two heavy guns, a hand gun and a granade type which all can be selected via the digipad. You can also throw granades blind or display the flight path by pressing the right trigger. The B-button activates the the famous chainsaw to get into bloody duels and executions. Also the reloading feature from the previous game is included. If you get the timing right you can actually decrease your loading time and make your ammo a little bit stronger. But if you press the button at the wrong time your weapon gets jammed, what can cost your virtual live. As player it requires you always to be focused and generally the whole gameplay is quite sophisticated and allows a lot of tactics in addition to the bloody action.
A further guarantee of the right feeling is the sprinting, because in Gears of War the sprinting sceenes look like someone is chasing you and this gives the player a real good feeling of movement. What in part 2 always was a little disturbing was the X-button. With a short press of it you could eg. lift ammo from the ground but also help your companion to get of from the ground. If both of these were laying close to each other guess what you picked up in 90% of the cases? I’ll give you a hint, it was not your help needed friend. Epic has fortunately changed this in the third part. These action are still at the same button but to pick up ammo you now have to press and hold the X-button. To help your ground laying mate you just have to tip on the button now. Also like in the last part if you are shot down and bleeding to death you can crawl into a cover till someone helps you. This can be slowed down by quickly pressing the A-button in a row. So you see there is no lack of variety in the gameplay and your fingers stay definitely fit.
But that’s not all. Epic has really given much effort to expand things. Pretty coll is that you now can swap weapons and ammunition to each other and to be honest, how cool is that. This also works in Horde mode to give a higher leveled team mate your money to buy better barricades and MG’s that you could not buy. For me this makes the gameplay ultimately, almost perfect. Everything that is important in combat you can now do.
At this point I will quickly compliment and response to the design of the whole game. No matter what the armor, weapons, vehicles or the house sized opponents like the Locust or the Shining, Epic has created here an astonishing game world that is simply unique and will remain so. Even Marcus Fenix has now a cult status and if there were not already Rambo, well then there would be no Rambo.
The most salient aspect in my oppinion is not the great cover system, the cool weapons and enemys or the pretty graphics, no it’s the multiplayer possibillities that you get offered. Because here you get the full program of social entertainment that no other title offers you. It’s a little like monopoly so much option you have here. This begins with the usual standard modes like Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Wingman etc… and ends at the magnificent Horde Mode in which you can team up with max. four other players and have to prove yourself against 50 waves of increasingly strong enemies. This mode was already in the second part but here they added some clever gimmics. To mention them all would now be beyond the scope that’s why I briefly summarize the most important ones. You now earn money with your kill. You can invest this money after each round to buy munitions or things for your protection like barricades, gun towers and similar things. And if that were not enough you can also upgrade these things for example the barricade: normal barricade -> barbed wire -> laser fence etc. So you can level up by investing in several areas and later even send a Mech to the battlefield. What’s also cool is that you can buy you back (if you have the money) into a fight after you died. This provides a good pinch of tactics with the Horde Mode and I have to say you gonna need a good tactic because the Horde has got pretty hard.
But the biggest plus point in my eyes of all this muscle-bound shooting is quiet clear that you can experience all this fun in split-screen mode. No matter what, whether online or offline and even the campaign, everything can be player toghether even only on one console. On top of this all you also can shot through the campaign with four people, but this only works in online mode. But still I will add a little criticism here. The split-screen only splits horizontal and every now and then it can get a little bit confusing, but you can get used to everything we know, at some point.
Become the beast:
Another new mode is the Beast-mode. Here you don’t slip into the skin of Marcus Fenix or the Locust like in team deathmatch. No, here you have the opportunity to play as one of the horde beasts like the sneaker, boomer or the berserk and than go on the hunt for castaways. But even here you will meet the heroes from the campaign which represent virtually the strongest opponents in the waves and the higher the wave, the more heroes you will fight. That’s pretty fun because the gameplay of the beasts is really something different.
Long-term motivation is also given. Of course you can again level up to level 100 (the story progress also counts) and unlock things like characters, weapons, skins, or emblems that give you titles like Horde player, group leader and others that you can let appear under your player name.
Action packed story:
The campaign is again super rich in action (cool sayings and huge opponents included). But you also get some sentimental moment which really give a great atmospere. Yes you read correctly, emotions in Gears of War. So you can see that Epic really can tell story and create a real good ending of the plot. The atmosphere is of course again unmistakable and to kneel down on it’s feet. Above all stands here the very pretty designed environments that offer a lot for the eye and guarantee great position changes. The campaign play time is about 7-9 hours long. But of course this can vary depending on how big you collecting passion is or on which of the four difficulties you are playing. The last and hardest of these difficulties (insane) will again only be activated after you played through the game once. Also new in the campaign is that you not only play as Marcus or Dom. From time to time you play as a soldier through the fighting, what gives the gameplay a little change. This time the whole scenario is also relatively colorful, what I personally find great, cause so you won’t get bored of the scenario like it could happened in the previous titles. Vehicle parts are also again a part of the game for those who likes them. What I lacked a little were the co-op sections from the first part, in which a player had to rely on the other one. These were already cuted out in the second part and this is unfortunately the case again. But moments in which you must separate from each other are still in the game.
Chainsaw massacre the third:
For all the parents here. Gears of War 3 game is really not for kids. Here do heads explode, enemies will be stabed or cut up. Dear god you can even uproot your enemies arm and beat him with it, but that’s Gears of War and not a child’s birthday and the blood is flowing ere in masses.
- strong score
- dedicated servers
- campaign is divided into acts
- good menu guidance
- this time women are also in the squad (including Anja from the previous parts)
- many new weapons like the retro lancer with bayonet
- new ways to take apart the enemies
- bots replace players if they leave a online session (except Horde-mode)
- increased ammunition supply in the magezines
- perfect reload has been changed a little with some weapons eg. from right to left
- great scenes in multiplayer mode with environmental factors such as sand stormes
Gears of War 3 is exactly what I expected. Tough and beatiful looking action with fat sound and a lot of chaos. If one is not exactly an advocate of violence in video games, there really is little reason to step away from this 3rd-person masterpiece because this is the best game in it’s class that the Xbox 360 has to offer at the moment. Here you get the full shooter package for your money. Epic has not rested on the succes of the previous titles and added more than you would have ever dreamed.
Good job Epic!