mildmolasses's Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) review

No wrench in these gears

One thing that I absolutely did not expect to say about the 3rd chapter of what is arguably the most influential game of the current console generation, is emotional resonance. However here I am after 10-ish hours of playing and actually thinking about the events that transpired. Now it should be stated that first and foremost, GoW3 is mostly a formulaic adventure that moves you quickly from one crisis to another, trying to find X or collect Y, for the greater good of the motley band of CoG soldiers and humanity at large. They did not reinvent the wheel. But they did perfect it.

Epic did not stray far from the beaten path on this outing. Nor should they. Your character still controls like an out-of-control Winnebago, and the shooting still feels as satisfying as it did back in 2006. And for my money, there is no more satisfying event in games than hearing the pop of a head in the middle of a firefight.

But here I am thinking about where they went with the story. And for the better. By the time all is said and done, things are very different in the world than when the journey started. Perhaps responding to complaints that the CoG soldiers where just a group of guys bro-ing their way through waves of enemies, Epic fleshed out the characters. You really do get the feeling that these guys have been greatly affected by this war, and almost that they have lost any sense of what it is that they may be fighting for. A few key scenes, though they may be brief in the grand scheme of the game as whole, really say a lot about them and their state of mind. By the end, there really is a sense that they may have found peace within themselves.

However not all is perfect within this closing chapter. For all the things that seem to be settled, and all the answers that are provided about how things came to be, there still remains one giant question that needs to be answered. Unfortunately it probably never will.

Beyond the great single player campaign, their is the usually batch multi player modes you'd expect from a Gears game. The new addition to the line-up is Beast mode, which is essentially Horde mode in reverse, where the player controls Locust enemy types and takes on fortified AI human opponents. I would love to elaborate on this mode more, but I have yet to actually get into a game because very few people seem to be playing it. Horde mode is still a great time, and the versus MP is still a way to be brutally humiliated by people who seem to have never stopped playing the series online. They did add a casual mode to introduce new players to the MP, however as soon as you graduate out of that, you will never experience the safety of that womb again, and will grow to hate the savage nature of the versus games at it is probably the most unfriendly towards newcomers as any game I can think of.

GoW 3 is a terrific game. It looks great (in particular a stunning underwater sequence), plays great, and most importantly, it is still really fun. Cliff et al. really outdid themselves and it's somewhat disappointing to be saying goodbye to the Gears universe for the foreseeable future. At least in the meantime we get a hell of a ride to go out on.

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