I swear this blog was going to be about a lot of different stuff-

But then Gears 3 took over

Well, Gears of War 3 is pretty much exactly what I expected. Better, longer campaign with a signicificantly better plot and a much improved multiplayer experience. This is probably my favorite shooter since Halo 3.

As awesome as the game is... Theres an odd lack of enthusiasm I have for it now. After a solid five year run of the super block buster shooter cycle running it's course it's hard to be as enthusiastic about the next big shooter on the block. Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare are just around the corner and I really couldn't care less, and while I've never really been a big fan of either series I at least gave them a little more acknowledgement, previously. I don't intend to play either(especially after having played the Battlefield 3 beta, more on that later).

It's nothing against Gears of War 3 though, it's does just about everything right and It's the best games I've played in years. This'll probably be what I play most up until... Halo 4, I guess.

So what did the game do right? Well, the netcode has been vastly improved, so the competitive multiplayer is actually playable even if your match isn't making use of the dedicated servers. There's a slew of unlockables so you have a lot of motivation to just keep playing. I really love how there an event callendar in the game, it's great to see that Epic has a plan for this game and activities for players to take part in on specific days.

The art direction is fantastic, the environments especially are a great improvement, theres alot of variety in the locations you'll be traversing.

While there aren't really any huge changes to gameplay(and really, why should there be?) some of the minor changes are appreciated like the ability to que up a weapon change while sprinting, the ability to trade weapons with allies and the ability to grenade tag meat shields and sending them hurtling towards foes.

Is there anything wrong with the game? Sure, but nothing very significant. In the campaign there are a few cut scenes that are prerendered and aren't hd, which standout. The seriously 3.0 achievement is just stupid.

4-player co-op, a feature fans have been begging for might not be as great as you might have hoped for. You'll likely have allies go down some what frequently in battle between the four of you and having to constantly revive each other can become a hassle, especially in the tougher fights. If just one of the players die you have to restart from the last check point.

It might sound silly to complain about the difficulty when you can always turn it down but it's either deal with some what frequent deaths or downs vs unchallenging foes. Ultimately, there is a solution, the arcade mode. It's a scoring system like Halo's meta game but in Gears turning this mode on allows players to continue the campaign even if a player dies(said player will respawn after a whole thirty friggin second wait). Which makes a co-op run significantly more enyoable/tolerable, especially on Insane. There is no downside to using it either, you'll still pick up achievements.

Gears of War 3 also alters the horde experience by including many of the bosses you encounter in the campaign in it's boss waves and adding a tower defense element to horde with fortifications like barriers, turrets and decoys. While fortifications are great you may be left wanting to return to the more simple classic horde experience. But it's still great and it really doesn't hurt to treat it like the old horde experience. Fortifications really only serve to slow down locust rather than out right handle them for you, for the most part, and they do practically nothing against bosses.

Beast mode is the new mode on the block and while at first it seems like the Horde mode flip flopped there's a bit more to it. You play as the locust trying to kill the CoG who are armed and hiding behind their own fortifications. It's a class based mode and the more damage you deal to the fortifications and the more foes you kill, the more money you earn which you can use to purchase which classes you want to play as and the more you do you'll be awarded with higher tier classes to play as.

Beast mode features a strict time limit to work under but the time limit is expanded the more you destroy fortifications and kill humans. It's a really fun mode but you probably wont stick with it too long since there are only twelve waves that end all too quickly. It's just not as an engaging experience as the competitive multiplayer or even horde.

While the multiplayer experience as a whole has just improved in playability, whats on offer is largely the same. You have warzone and executions, Gears' classic single spawn deatmatchlike variants with the main difference being that in execution to kill an oppenent you need to either headshot them or execute them. Annex has changed it's name to king of the hill and the original kill of the hill mode is gone. And meatflag and gaurdian have been merged into the "capture the leader mode" where players must capture and hold the enemy leader for a set amount of time.

Gears 3 seem to focus on taking what it already had, mostly cutting what it didn't need and refining it. The only "new" mode is team death match. Closer to what you'd expect to see in most shooter it's pretty much what you expect except that players share a set number of respawns.

While Gears of War 3 hasn't been out for even two weeks it's got "DLC" coming out the wazoo already with weapons skin packs galore and a season pass. Microsoft has made some advances in their microtransaction conquest with Gears of War 3. The most controversial part of this though is that these weapon skin packs are content that are already on disc. Rod Furgesson of Epic games has explained that they made this content on disc so that all players would be able to view it without haing to download anything.

what do I think about it? Well, I have some mixed feelings. Some of these weapons skins were actually show cased in a vidoc for the beta. I think it's reasonable to assume that most if not all of these skins were originally inteded to be unlockable by the players. The concept of buying the skins were never presented until I think weeks before release. Microsoft likely caught wind of the success of the microtransactions we see in many free to play games and decided to try it out here in a premium game that was sure to sell millions. This is purely speculation though.

Ultimately I think there's really only one thing to consider here, is Gears of War 3 worth the sixty dollars as is? I say yes. So while it might be kinda lame that we missed out on some skins and... Other things, probably, it really shouldn't be that big a deal considering what we get in the game right of the bat already far exceeds what most other games offer.

The truly ridiculous thing here though is the price of the weapon skins. A single skin costs three dollars and an animated skind skin costs four dollars. If you want all the skins for one particular weapon only it costs fifteen dollars. If you want the "launch collection" skins, which consists of every skin currently available then it'll run you fourty five dollars. Apparently around twenty something weapons skins are worth four times more than a map pack. Unfortunately, I can see this taking off and becoming an industry standard. While 'm not against the concept of these micro transaction I really don't think the pricing is right at all.

Aside from these weapon skins there's the season pass which will nets you four of the upcoming non weapon skin dlc packs at a 33% discount as well as a free bonus weapon skin set(alot of people seem confused, you aren't paying for a discount, you're paying for all the DLC up front at a discounted price). These will consist of multiplayer maps and a new campaign and characters, but Microsoft has been vague on what specifically will be included. You can already see there are three unreleased maps on the leader boards so it's safe to assume the first dlc pack will be a map pack.

my only concern is if one of these dlc packs will be a character pack or something. I really only want new maps and the new campaign. It would make sense to maybe have these new characters as incentive to buy the dlc but I wouldn't pay for them all on their own.

Now that the dlc shenanigans are out of the way, I feel that while Gears of War 3 is very, very similar to it's predecessors it's multiplayer has been rehauled to the point to where I would encourage those who didn't like previous entries to still give Gears of War 3 a chance. The campaign has a satisfying sense of closure I haven't seen in a game... probably ever. The multiplayer is a satisfying and consistent experience. Gears of War 3 had pretty much everything I wanted... Except a theater mode. :P

Stay tuned for the next blog I promise I'll make soon and totally probably not follow up on in a reasonable amount of time.