Gears of War was the first Xbox 360 game I have ever played. Gears of War 2 was the reason why I decided to buy my own system instead of playing it on somebody's system. Then come along Gears of War 3. Gears of War 3 was developed 3 years instead of 2 years development time that the first two games had. Gears of War 3 not only improved the single player campaign aspect of the game, but also the co-op and to the fans' loud cheer, the competitive multiplayer. Gears of War 3 is billed as the biggest blockbuster game in 2011. Does the game hold candle to the hype?
The answer is a resounding yes!
Gears 3 starts eighteenth months after the second game. The plot of the game is the usual Michael Bay's action movie, save the world from the bad guys. The main protagonist, Marcus Fenix received a video message from his father, Adam Fenix, who supposed to be dead, about an invention that can destroy the Locusts and Lambants. Marcus' crew that includes old favorites like Dom, Baird and of course Cole Train joined by newcomers Sam, Anya (not really new since she was in the first two games) and the third Carmine brother. They all travel to try find and rescue Adam and his invention. The story flows really nicely this time around thanks to the great writing by Karen Traviss. Unlike previous title, Gears 3 actually jump deep down into the stories of characters, not just "let's kill that!" or "let's go there!" If you ever felt curious why Cole gets called Cole Train, this game will tell you that story, which was kind of touching. Continuing the story from Gears 2, players will also experience the Dom-Maria story. Of course, you will also be able to see why Marcus hates his dad. Well done in telling the story Epic Games!
The campaign is divided into a couple chapters that are nicely paced. After an intense gun fights, players are given some calm moments sprinkled with some nicely done cinematics. The cinematics are plenty but never take players out of the game since they are less than 2 minutes each time. Because of the great pacing, the campaign is undoubtedly better than the first two games. The campaign can be finished in about 10 hours or so depending on whether you are looking for collectibles or not. For the first time in the series the campaign can be played up to 4 people in co-op. Another new feature is Arcade mode for the campaign. The game plays just like the regular campaign but this time you or your teammates get points after each kill. The points are totaled at the end of every chapter. This mode adds a little competitiveness to a stale co-op concept.
The gameplay of Gears 3 is pitch perfect thanks to the extra year of development time. The polish shines through how great in shooting guns, how the characters stick to the covers and of course how beautiful the game looks, Unreal Engine 3 is perfected on Xbox 360. Everything about the game feels so satisfying. Signature guns from the series return such as Lancer, but this time around Epic adds cool weapons such as Retro Lancer, in which you can use to stab enemies when you sprint at them with it equipped. The fans' favorite is of course the sawed-off shotgun, which has only one round per reload but it can kill multiple enemies if you use it correctly.
The audio of the game is superb just like other entries in the series. Guns sounds great and explosions sound ears-piercing. The best part though is the voice acting of the characters. The voice of Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago sound better than ever. They sound sad when they are supposed to be sad, they sound angry when they are supposed to be angry. And oh, did I mention Ice T is in the game? Yes he is the game. I'm pretty sure this game would at least get a nomination for best audio in a game.
The multiplayer now uses dedicated servers. By doing that, Epic fixes the host advantage problem from the second game. Competitive multiplayer is actually competitive now. Epic pissed a lot of people by selling a garbage-ton of weapon skins in the marketplace. I suggest nobody to buy into this scam.
A new addition to the multiplayer is Beast Mode. It is the reverse Horde Mode. Instead of playing as one of the cogheads, you play as a locust. At the beginning of each level, you control the low-level locust. As you progress, you get to become the bigger, badder and more badass kind of locust like the Brumak. Horde mode is also back this time around as Horde 2.0. It has 50 waves for people with a lot of free time to go through. From what I heard, it will take about 5-6 hours to go through all 50 waves.
When the credits roll at the end of the campaign, I finally feel justified buying an Xbox 360. It is this exact game that makes me glad that I own a 360. From a roller coaster (and sometimes gut-wrenching) of a campaign, super-chaotic but fun Horde 2.0 to the fun competitive multiplayer, I salute Cliff Bleszinski and friends for making a game that deserves their studio name...EPIC!