By Video_Game_King 13 Comments
I'd have made the title bullet-related in some way, but I feel like I've done that for many of my blogs already. What can I say? A lot of video games love bullets, and Gears of War 3 is one of them. But is it a video game I love? No, not really, but the strange thing is that it could have been. All the ingredients for a good third person shooter are there. It's just that Epic Games forgot to bake the damn thing.
Now what the fuck does that mean? I'll explain later, because right now, it's story time. The year is Future AD. Larry the Cable Guy has become head of both the military and fashion, and Germany (or at least what I'm guessing is Germany) really loves football, for some reason. Oh, and there's also this huge alien war that's been going on for quite some time. But that's not important. What is important is that THE ARMY IS FUCKING AWESOME. That seems to be the entire tone throughout the game: displaying how utterly powerful and cool the military is. I don't have too many problems with that premise, although one of the early lines about the common people not appreciating the military does rub me the wrong way. The world of This-Is-Clearly-Not-Earth-You-Guys has been at war for at least three to four games by now, and while there have clearly been some pretty major fuck-ups along the way, I have to imagine it would've been worse without these guys.
Of course, a lot of the things I do have problems with seem to be related to this one aspect of the game, somehow. For instance, what do you think happens when you load up your characters with ludicrous amounts of muscle to show off that military power thing I was talking about before? Here, it results in everybody becoming a seething ball of barely contained rage for TEN HOURS. That's way too long to be angry at everything. It destroys any sympathy I have for the characters (and with the dynamic between Marcus and his dad, there's plenty of sympathy to be had) and leaves them a grating mess. Half the time, I can't even understand why they're as angry as they are. For example, early in the game, this government guy called Prescott walks onto the scene and Marcus is immediately angry at him. "How dare this man exist", Marcus is presumably thinking. Of course, at the time, I had no idea what he was thinking, so I didn't have much of a clue as to why he was so pissed. Yea, we eventually learn that the government is corrupt and Prescott had some role in this, but given the order of events, it feels less like a legitimate reason to be angry at these guys and more like the universe has twisted about to validate the main character's feelings.
But for as much as I criticize the story, it's hard to hold that against the game. After all, the story only exists to ferry me from shoot-out to shoot-out. If I'm going to criticize the game, I'm gonna have to do it based on its gameplay, which is why I'm going to do the exact opposite. What's there to criticize with Gears of War 3? For the most part, it's a very mechanically solid game. More specifically, it's a game about shooting, and it will never once let you forget that, because you're gonna be jumping from shoot-out to shoot-out with alarming rapidity. Any moments that lack shooting are filled with even more shooting. The way I describe it, it sounds like things could get repetitive very fast, but actually, it does a great job of keeping you engaged. You have to be paying attention at all times to get anything done, even when you're not mercilessly killing things. And then there are the weapons to consider. The.....OK, there aren't too many weapons here, and that selection is limited even more by the simple fact that you'll be pilfering most of your weapons from enemies whose brains you just mashed in with your boot, but in theory, at least, the weapons get the job done. You have the usual assault rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle, and all that mess, but you also get to chainsaw dudes in half and explode them with arrows and some other stuff in between. What's not to like about that? (Besides what I just said before this?)
How about the lack of risk, IE the linchpin holding all these other elements together? Remember earlier, when I said that the developers forgot to bake their meat cake that is Gears 3? This is what I meant by it. I'd say that the cover system is partially responsible for this, but from what I remember, it was working as hard as it could against this. Bullets will rip through you like you're made of toilet paper (not surprising for people who only protect their torsos), so you're forced into cover to survive. Not just to recover, either; that damage can wrack up rather quickly, so there's definitely a tactical element to popping in and out of cover that elevates this game at least slightly past mindless shooting.
But what happens when you take too much damage? You crawl around on your stomach, waiting for one of your team-mates to run over and heal you. This may not sound like much, but keep in mind that you can bleed out for hours on end and come back to full health, removing any sense of danger or loss associated with coming close to death. I know it sounds like I'm harping on this way too much, but it really does bring the game toppling down. It removes any sense of accomplishment or skill I could reap from my actions. Why bother being smart ab-actually, I have a real example of something that happened. The first time I booted up the game, I gained a bunch of levels in....something. I'm still not sure what. But my system was making some funny noises, so I decided to remove the game and get that sorted out. Pop it back in, and I not only get booted up to level 11 (again, don't know what), but two achievements for making it this far. What did I achieve, Epic Games? I booted up the fucking game twice. I haven't even gotten through a menu, and already, you're saying that I've achieved something. How much better is the rest of the game supposed to fare after that?
Then again, it's important to keep in mind that I was playing this squad-based shooter all alone. Maybe on a higher difficulty or with other people manning the Cogs, the tension increases to the point where all this becomes a non-issue. Or maybe I should have tried any other mode available. I mean, there's an Imperial buttload of modes to fuck about with, and since the basic mechanics provide a good base, I have to imagine there's something worthwhile in this thing. All I know for certain is that the campaign isn't.
- I hope the sequel to this game is Fenix and Friends in Anger Management.
- Wow, what a good cover-based shooter!
- Except for that whole "lack of serious risk" thing.
This part of the blog brought to you by incredibly obscure memes.
And meeting the obscure game quota for this week is Burai Fighter. Of course, you probably already knew that when you saw the banner at the very top of....anyway, Burai Fighter fares much better than Gears of War 3 did. Yes, it definitely has some rough edges (in fact, I think the developers saw a smooth area in Burai Fighter and decided to glue sandpaper onto it), but it still manages to deliver some very solid action in an appropriately short amount of time.
Normally, I'd jump straight into the story, but Burai Fighter doesn't bother with that pussy shit. You want some story? There are Burai that you must fight. Or maybe you are a fighter from the proud nation of Burai. None of that matters, because there is only one thing in the world that matters: shooting everything everywhere at all times. And I mean it when I say "everywhere", I mean everywhere; Burai Fighter lets you shoot in any direction you want, and by "lets you", I mean "forces you". That multi-direction shooting feature's gonna be put to good use as enemies come from all these different directions and hide in nooks and crannies you generally can't reach just by shooting forward. It gets even better with the boss battles, as each one finds new and interesting ways of utilizing that one mechanic. You want a crab with spinning arms? It's in there. What about an angel thing that tries to kill you with a massive spiky cucumber? That's in there, too. How about shooting a tiny-ass hitbox while dodging sperm rocks?......OK, so it's only better with most of them.
Still, that's a better track record than the power-ups get. What? You thought that you were gonna play this game with only one weapon? In games about shooting, you get far more ways to shoot people; in Burai Fighter, you get four. The default weapon, a laser thing, missiles, and deadly, deadly rings. Each has their own totally unique identity that you will swiftly forget as you just use the default. Here's the thing about power-ups, Burai Fighter: they're supposed to make me more powerful. That's the biggest reason why anybody even bothers with them. But you've started me off with this incredibly functional weapon that lets me shoot wherever the hell I want. Why should I bother with this cool laser weapon if my regular pea-shooter can accomplish the same things? They feel more like conveniences than they do actual necessities to the gameplay.
Hopefully, the level design is better than the weapon design, by which I mean "the level design is better than the weapon design". I'd say something about how it paces the action, but I'm pretty sure I said that back in the paragraph about angel sperm or whatever. Instead, I'll hype up the variety in level design, because it's amazing how no two levels in this thing feel exactly the same. The first, level, for instance, sucks. The second level has you scrolling through Metroid caves. The third level is a top-down shooter for no real reason. I'd say this is where the variety works against the game, but it's less about the game simply trying out new ideas and more about these new ideas not being executed well. You want all those cool enemy formations and winding level directions and all the other things you liked about the rest of the game? Well, how about we throw enemies at you while you wander around a blank space of nothingness, looking for a boss to explode? It's as utilitarian and hard to enjoy as I make it out to be. Still, it's difficult to hold that against the entire game when there are only two levels like that. After all, that still leaves five mostly competent levels of side scrolling action to experience.
- You're gonna be doing a lot of shooting in this game and have absolutely no problems with it.
- You're just gonna be doing it with one weapon. Yea, you get the option for more, but why bother?
- Oh, and something about top down levels, for whatever reason.