Gears of War 3 Review Xbox 360
Gears of War 3 is supposedly the last entry in the Gears of War series, and if it is then it's certainly a high note to go out on. The Multiplayer is better than it's ever been, the improvements to Horde mode make it much deeper add with the new locust playing beast mode give the game tons of replay value. The campaign though short is quite entertaining. Fans of the series, or third person shooters in general shouldn't be disappointed in this final installment.
After the events of Gears of War 2 the Gears power source imulsion is overrunning the planet and infecting their enemies the locust and turning them into brainless exploding monsters called the lambent. The main Gears team is separated from the main human command, and sets adrift across the sea on a old naval vessel. Using it and it's two helicopters as a mobile base separates them from the hellish war on land. When Chairman Prescott unexpectedly returns with news from Marcus's missing father Adam Fenix the team sets out to find him. The story of Gears of War 3 is pretty cool but pretty short, since it takes between four to six hours to complete. The situations your in don't seem as dire as in Gears 1 or the backdrops as epic and sprawling as in Gears 2. Often Gears 3 campaign seems a little low key, and perhaps too linear, levels often feel like rigid amusement park rides and not real explorable environments. Still it's pretty fun to go through two or three times I'd say.
The campaign can be played by yourself, or in offline two player splitscreen co-op or in or with four players in online co-op. In addition to normal cooperative mode the campaign can also be played in Arcade mode in which scores the actions and kills of each player separately and then at the end of each chapter the player with the highest score wins. When the next chapter starts everyone's score reset to zero, and players revert to their default weapons and ammo supplies. I guess this is done in effort to make it so that no player has too big of a lead, which might cause other people to quit the match. Arcade mode is a lot easier than regular campaign since when any player dies during the normal campaign, everyone fails and the host must load from the last saved checkpoint. But in Arcade mode if a player dies, they'll just have to wait 30 seconds to respawn, and as long as not everyone else is dead, the remaining players can continue on. In fact besides the respawn time, the only penalty for dying in arcade mode is resetting the score multiplier to 0. With every hit and kill the multiplier will increase, making points worth double or even up to 10 times as much as they normally would be, however every time a player takes damage will decrease and when one is killed the multiplier will reset to zero. There is also an achievement for maintaining the Arcade multiplier at 10 throughout ten separate chapters of the game. It's a lot easier to play the campaign online in Arcade mode, since you don't have to worry about someone constantly dying, and slowing your progress to a crawl. I guess Epic must've realized this as well, so they dramatically increased the difficulty of Insane mode making it absurdly hard to playthrough by yourself. Lambent enemies for instance always explode when defeated, and considering that being anywhere close to explosion will equal instant death on insane, and that lambent enemies like to rush you in packs, it's very hard to stay alive. Gunkers are a particular problem because of their one-hit kill range attack that can even get you in cover, luckily they don't appear that often throughout the campaign.
During the campaign player one will usually play as Marcus, but the other players will switch characters quite a bit during the story. Which is a pretty good incentive to join someone else's game and play as someone new like Cole or Anya. This is more prevalent in Arcade mode however, were your weapons reset at the beginning of each chapter, some characters will sometimes have questionable weapon load's outs. Like a hammer burst and sawed off, or a retro lancer, and a longshot. After giving it some thought through, I think then we better to be able play the campaign as whoever you want, since you can do that in multiplayer, why not campaign?
I guess one of the problems with the campaign is the lack of new enemies and variety. I guess at this point in the series they think that it would be unrealistic to introduce new enemy types given how long the Gears have encountered the locust, but it's still a videogame and dammit I want new enemies to kill. That isn't to say there aren't any new enemies like the lambent for instance, but what I'd really like our new enemies that required different tactics to fight, instead of take cover and then shoot in face.
Also I was a bit annoyed that they severely limit your ammo capacity during the campaign. In multiplayer I can carry 500 rounds with the Lancer but in campaign I only can only carry 420. The Hammerburst is a joke with such little ammo it has.
On the plus side finally there is a good vehicle section after two failed attempts in the first two Gears games. But Just when you think there won't be a bad levels in the game, there's a water level, in a turret, on rails. So close. Well at least it isn't hard. That isn't to say there aren't good levels in Gears 3. I enjoyed most of act one, and I especially like Act 3 with the outdoor environments and act five is also pretty scenic, but oddly no matter how big or open the environment appears to be, the levels always feel claustrophobic and on rails. Most of the time it feels like there's only one way to beat a section in the game and any other decision or option would be folly. Although I would definitely say that the campaign is better than Gears 2. I did expect a little more, and was a bit disappointed, mainly because it never got really intense or had a cool event happen.
The multiplayer in Gears of War 3 is very fun and complex, in fact I'd go as far to say they should only buy Gears of War 3 if you're interested it's multiplayer since it's clearly the best feature. Any mode in Gears of War 3 can be played with a second person on the same system online or off. The campaign, and all multiplayer modes can be played with four people online, you can also host or join online match with up to five people in Horde, Beast mode and standard versus. The game supports as much as 10 people on the in same match. You can also close private matches online or off against bots or other players where you can customize things like respawn time or weapon layout or use mutators.
As with most multiplayer games when your winning its very fun but when you're losing it can be incredibly frustrating. Multiplayer can be annoying at times due to two conflicting styles of play. Shotguns versus Rifles and Rushing versus Camping seems to be a reoccurring themes to matches, with usually Shotguns and Camping coming out on top. Basically some players insist that using the sawed off shotgun or the regular shotgun, the gnasher is cheap and unfair, so they only use long-range weapons like the Lancer, retro-Lancer, longshot, or torque bow. Of course when using long-range weapons you can't kill people as quickly so you're forced to camp and take potshots, then when the opposing team rushes behind with shotguns and kills them, The rifle players become irate at how unfair that was what noobs the other team is. The problem is that long-range weapons are pretty much only good when camping, and close range weapons are good when camping or rushing. Thus is the disparity between the two play styles.
There's should probably be a multiplayer mode where there's only shotguns or only rifles for people that get too mad and can't adjust their tactics to what team they are playing against.
The imported thing to remember is to play to your weapons strength. If everyone on your team is rushing, and you plan on using a Lancer, you're better off hanging a ways back and camping, then risk leading the group and getting easily killed by a shotgun user. The inverse is also true, camping with a shotgun in the back of a group, won't net you any kills, so you're better off in front of the action. Basically don't give into peer pressure, use whatever weapons you are comparable with, in whatever style you choose, and eventually the practice you'll get good at it.
Maps in the game are generally good but there are too few of them, initially only ten with five more that will soon be added, and the terrain seems to be unbalanced. Every map has at least one spot that's great to camp at, with tons of vantage points to snipe from and lots of cover to sneak up and shotgun people. Once one team controls one of these areas, it's very difficult for the other team to take it back without massive casualties. Sometimes maps will have several good spots for camping which often causes both teams to camp two separate areas of the map and wait for their enemies to come them. This often leads to an annoying game of chicken. These matches usually end in stalemates unless someone panics during the last few seconds of the match, rushes, and is killed, thereby screwing over the rest of the team. Fortunately situations like that usually only occur late night in team death match.
In Team Death Match each team has 15 lives or respawns, and when one team runs out of lives the other wins. In Warzone everyone only has one life and when one team is eliminated the other wins. Execution is a lot like Warzone, except that you can't kill someone who is downed outright with a rifle or pistol. Instead downed players must be killed with executions, however shotguns at close range are still an instakill. In King of the Hill the Hill that will always be in the same spot at the start of the match, then after 60 seconds moved to another random location on the map for another 60 seconds. This continues until one team controls the hill for 150 seconds. Unlike traditional King of the Hill players don't have to be inside the Hill to score points. Instead the players must be inside the hill for ten seconds or shorter if more players are inside the Hill in order to capture it. Once the Hill is captured however players can move anywhere they like on the map while still scoring points for controlling the Hill, leaving them free to camp or kill wherever they like. The goal of enemy players is to enter the Hill so as to "break it" and then capture it themselves. This version of Hill is most similar to the Annex game type found in earlier versions of Gears of War. In Wingman you and eight other players are split into teams of two, the goal of course is to eliminate the all enemy teams, however once downed they can only be killed with executions. In Capture the Leader each team of five has a leader and the goal is down the enemy leader and then use them as a meat shield for 30 seconds in order to capture them. Due to the nature of the game type, this often degrades into lots of camping and waiting for the enemy leader to come to you, in fact I'm not really sure why anyone who is the leader wouldn't camp as it's just a bad strategy to rush as the leader. Team Death Match and King of the Hill are the most popular game types, followed by Capture the Leader. Then the much less popular Wingman, Execution and Warzone.
Horde mode returns from Gears of War 2 and is now more fleshed out then just a glorified survival mode. Like before you'll still fight 10 to 50 enemies each wave for 50 waves with increasing difficulty as you progress, thanks to greater enemy health, accuracy, and damage. But now every tenth wave will be a boss wave where tougher enemies will appear such as berserkers, brumaks, reavers, or gunkers. Also now instead of just fighting locust, lambent enemies appear as well helpfully will sometimes even attacked each other or at least ignore the humans for a while.
A popular tactic in Gears 2 was to plant shields in order to construct makeshift walls. In Gears 3 this has been greatly expanded upon, to the point where, Horde almost becomes a tower defense game. Now you can build walls, manned gun turret, unmanned sentry guns, human decoys to distract enemy fire, silverbacks for mobile offensive, and with the DLC command posts, to launch Hammer of Dawn strikes in order to quickly clear a wave. Building things cost money and in order to acquire money you must kill enemies. Killing most enemies will net you about 100 points, which translates directly into 100 dollars. Bosses are worth more money, usually between 1400 to 2700. Most fortifications you can build cost 1 or 2000 to make. You can also level up fortifications and unlock better upgrades by spending a particularly large sum a specific type. Upgrading fortifications usually makes them more powerful but also makes them more expensive to buy and repair. Upgrading a wall, century, or decoy to max will cost you about 5000 or 6000. But upgrading a turret to max costs at least 10000 and it costs 12500 to even build a Silverback, much less upgrade it. So you'll have to prioritize one or two items to upgrade since you won't have enough money to buy everything, especially in multiplayer, were you'll have less of an income, due to sharing kills. But the trade off is that you'll have a easier time beating waves with more people. Playing through all 50 waves of Horde takes a while, usually three to five hours, even with mutators on it will take at least two hours.
One of the frustrating things about Horde is seems like everything you buy costs too much money and is too easily destroyed to be worth the investment. For example two tickers or three locust could destroy a wall, and even a max sentry gun could be taken out by single locust. Personally I recommend finding a easily defendable turret near a wall, upgrading it to the max, and only using it in emergencies. Everything else is a waste of time, and money. Although the DLC's the Command Post Hammer strikes are pretty useful too.
Beast mode switches things up a bit from Horde, and you actually play as a team of locust attacking a team of AI controlled humans, throughout 12 waves. The objective is of course is to kill all the humans, but this also often entails destroying their fortifications as well in order to get to them. The twist is that at the start of each wave you only have one minute to eliminate them, but you'll gain more time by killing people or destroying objects. Killing humans or destroying fortifications earns you money which you can use to unlock greater more powerful locust, that kill humans more quickly and efficiently. As you might expect this makes the early waves, when you have less powerful locust available much more difficult than the later ones, which I think causes a interesting lopsided difficulty. The human AI in beast mode is generally stupid, but they are effective with some weapons. For example humans using turrets, a silverback, the Hammer of Dawn, mortars, or the Boom Shot should be killed quickly before they can do too much damage. Besides regular humans which are referred to as stranded you'll also run into heroes who are the main characters from the game, such as Marcus, Dom, Cole, or Baird. Heroes usually have a specialty weapon and rarely branch out from it, for example, Carmine always uses a shield, Ayna always uses mortars, and Cole always has a pesky one hit kill Boom Shot. Like in execution heroes, even the oynex guards must first have to take enough damage to be downed, and once downed any further attacks will finally kill them. This makes killing a hero as a tickers require at least two trips.
Often a good strategy is for one player to focus on the destroying fortifications giving the other players more time to kill the humans. The first wave locust is kind of a joke, with the highlights being tickers, and the retro lancer. The second wave is a little better with blood mounts a shotgun locust and kantus. The third tier has many good options such as the centipede, Boomer, or the corpser. The fourth tier also has several options but you should really only use the berserker. I don't care how cool the armored kantus or digger is any other choice is wrong and you're just wasting your money. Basically the strategy is to use a ticker, or savage ticker which doesn't explode but is better at destroying fortifications to raise enough money to afford a blood mount, then the practically indestructible corpser, and lastly the walking win button, the berserker.
When you first start playing the game only a handful of character models are unlocked for multiplayer. As you level up experience and gain medals you will gradually unlock more characters. Sometimes this can be a little annoying though, when you just want a play as Anthony Carmine right away, and not wait until you are level 75. There are about 50 different characters to play as counting variants. (For instance there are three versions of Marcus, Dom, Cole and Baird, two of Anya and Dizzy and if you count every cog with a helmet as a Carmine then there is at least five.] If you want to level up quickly, then I recommend playing King of the Hill or Warzone, since Hill gives you the most points, but Warzone matches go the quickest, so you can easily get the consecutive match bonus of 1000XP.
I guess character unlocking is one way to add to the multiplayer's replay value, other reasons include to keep playing multiplayer include collecting ribbons and earn medals. You acquire ribbons after performing certain tasks during matches, such as getting a shutout, getting three head shots or executions in a row during a match, or being the MVP. Collecting enough of certain ribbons will sometimes unlock a medal. Medals are usually acquired by performing certain feats a ridiculous number of times. For example a bronze Lancer metal requires you to get 100 kills with the Lancer. But the road to silver, gold, and onyx medal is much steeper requiring you to get 500, 5000 and 10000 kills respectively. There also some stupid metals, like one for playing as a female character in 2000 matches, or opening 10,000 doors during the campaign. There also some that are just way too hard to acquire, like kill your nemesis with a execution 500 times, or participate in 75 different Gears weekend in multiplayer events. Considering getting a nemesis in the first place requires you to be killed by them three times, and then for you to down them and execute them without anyone interfering in this same round seems pretty unlikely to happen that many times. Then there's the pesky achievement that requires you to reach level 100, which will take a while, and then unlock every medal to its onyx state, which would take in a obscene amount of time to accomplish since there are 60 metals, and only about 10 of them which are anywhere close to being considered easy to obtain.
The graphics in gears of war three are spectacular. I'm particularly impressed by the lighting which is so amazing I go as far to say as it's the best lighting I've ever seen a videogame. Texture work is usually quite good as well, with tons of detail on objects and vivid colors. Due to the art designs in the game though a lot character seem to have the same proportions and therefore look-alike. Everyone's weird shoulders in tiny heads is particularly noticeable on certain characters like Chairman Prescott, or big rig Dizzy. So it's a character model and probably the weakest feature graphical feature of the game but still very impressive. Probably the most graphically impressive area in the game is the sun shining down on the Tower of Azura which is stunning. Lush fauna rich areas look particularly great, it's a shame that there's so many dark corridors in the game, and not showing off the graphics.
Gears of wars three soundtrack is pretty good but not really memorable. Some reason my friends really look rocked out to the soundtrack of gears of war one and two, going as far as to buy the albums. Now I like it that much of the previous games in the series certainly had better music that increased the tension and drama of whatever scenes playing out. In this game will be long stretches without any music, until a group of enemy shows up, and then it's far too intense and frantic and fast to feel fitting for such easily dispensable foes. What's funny is that the soundtrack features many remixes of songs from the earlier gears of war games but the new versions just aren't as good. The music can also get a bit repetitive during multiplayer such as the win lose theme. One highlight is that the Tears for Fears song Mad World previously feature in the commercial for Gears or War 1 finally shows up in the game, albeit a instrumental version. Basically the music is good, but not great.
The controls in the game are solid. The left analog stick moves your character. The R trigger fires your weapon. The L Trigger activates precision aim for your weapon. The right analog stick aims your weapon and controls the camera. The directional pad selects your weapons, Up is grenades, down is pistol, Right is rifles, and Left is Shotguns, although once acquired you can set any weapon to left or right depending on what is currently selected. RB reloads your weapon. LB show you where your teammates are in the area. Pressing B with most weapons does a melee attack, with the Lancer it revs the chainsaw, and it charges with the retro Lancer. The Y button picks up items, ammo and weapons and in Horde mode is used to buy and repair fortifications. X is use to interact with objects, open doors, flip switches, and use a turret or silver back. Tapping the A button will cause you to doge or slide into cover, and contextually jump over cover or dash to the next available cover. Holding down the A button causes you to run quickly in a straight line, but it's difficult to perform a sharp turn left or right. This is called a roadie run.
Gears of War 3 has an average single player but a superb multiplayer experience, that will only get better with time as new maps and balancing is implemented. The graphics are great especially the lighting, and the music is good but forgettable. The game has tremendous replay value thanks to the terrific multiplayer. There is so much variety in the game types and replay value is helped by the ridiculous amount of unlockables. I think that most people who get hooked online will play Gears of War 3 for at least 100 hours. Gears of War 3 is a amazing game but a few minor problems such as long load times between rounds and matches hold it back from being a classic and just a great game in its day. So I give it a 9/10.
In this bonus features I'll analyze the main weapons in the game and list the order of my personal preference.