27th September 2011 - Gears of War – It’s the biggest franchise on the Xbox 360. With ludicrously high sales for exclusive titles on the last 2 instalments, the third and final chapter in Delta squads Gears story now comes to an end with Gears of War 3. With the same technology being used since the series first incarnation, Gears of War 3 treads on the fear that it may not offer anything new to players. Well by ticking the boxes of both quality and quantity, I assure you that is not the case. Read on to find out why.
Gears of War 3 is the top-tier of Third-Person Shooters. With a lot to live up to after the first game successfully recreated the genre, Gears 3 delivers in terms of core gameplay mechanics. Not much has changed since the last game, but enough new tweaks and additions to the gunplay, weaponry and structure provides a fresh experience.
The story concludes that of Marcus, Dom and the rest of Delta squad, as they fight for the last remaining strands of humanity after the war with Locust has ravished the planet of Sear for over 14 years. One of the finer points of the single-player campaign is that it takes a much more personal light than we are used to. It peaks the characters personal issues and ties it all together with the more prominent over arching story which aims to answer all the questions of the franchise. The story structure even allows players who have never played through Gears of War 1 and 2 to get stuck in for the first time with full explanations of what is happening on the surface of Sera and the characters minds. It’s essentially a perfect execution of catering to both new and old fans alike.
On top of the single player campaign – which I may add in terms of both narrative and gameplay, is the series’ strongest – Gears 3 packs itself with a ton of other content. The ever popular Horde mode from Gears of War 2 makes a triumphant return, with a completely makeover. Now up to 5 players buy, build and upgrade structures, turrets, and much more with money they earn from killing the increasingly difficult waves of enemies. Out of all of the games many modes, Horde 2.0 has to be my personal highlight, and will provide enjoyment for months to come. Then there is versus, the games competitive multiplayer mode. This is your typical multiplayer experience, with most of the balancing issues from the beta ironed out to perfection. There are still some problems with players spamming the ever powerful Shotguns, which enrages a lot of other players, but any degree of team work and skill put to good use can counter that in a heartbeat.
The biggest new feature the game presents is Beast Mode. In Beast, players’ roles are reversed and put in the boots of the locust creatures. Everything from the pestering Tickers to the mammoth Berserkers are playable here with the right preservation and funding, each creature with their very own abilities and control schemes. On paper, it’s risky business, but Gears of War 3’s Beast Mode is a true success. It’s fun, unique and highly replayable with the right friends. Like Horde Mode, you will be playing this for months. Up to 5 players can compete in Beast Mode together, with matchmaking available for those without willing friends.
Gears of War was one of the first games to prioritize, and eventually standardize, the whole ‘grey & brown’ colour scheme that most gritty shooters and adventure games have come to adapt this generation. But don’t hold that against it! It wasn’t a thing of bore and generic merit when it first did it, and what I believe is both a design choice to counter the rising number of the generic ‘gritty’ styled games and as a subtle reflection on the new story arc, Gears of War 3 is a much more colourful experience than its predecessors. It still features its trademark gloomy atmosphere and dark environments, and the attention to detail throughout both the campaign and the layout and style of the multiplayer maps is nearly immeasurable.
But colour aside, there isn’t much graphically different to the last Gears of War title. But where nothing has changed, it has certainly been improved. Everything from textures to modelling has taken a hike, but the biggest improvement I noticed is in the animation department. It’s a small thing to some, and not as noticeable as other factors, but the animation in Gears of War 3 is some of the best I've ever seen in a video game. Not just in cut scene, but the fluidity of movement and interaction with the world around you in Gears 3 is truly second to none.
Continuing the trend of the series, Gears of War 3 does a stellar job in the audio department. The game has a heap of new faces, accompanied by a new slew of quality voice actors. They all hold their own next to the familiar voices of Delta squad, and again each character displays a good deal of emotion through their voices, increasing the impact of the themes of personal values throughout the campaign.
The game has a noteworthy score that conveys the story’s emotion and desperation, and with some of highly cinematic moments that riddle the story, the scenes created here by Epic are masterful. It may not be the best score we’ve heard in a video game, or particularly stick with you when the credits roll, but it’s of a quality only the best do deliver. A wonderful use of REM’s Mad World is also present in one of the campaigns more sincere moments.
It’s hard to fault Gears of War 3 in any way, but not least of all because of its supreme value for money. It’s a rare thing these days when a game provides an above-average length for s single-player campaign, throws in 4 co-op modes and a highly balanced and polished competitive mode, all for the standard asking price. This is the kind of experience that players deserve for the high price of video games in this day and age.
Gears of War 3 is pitch perfect – it features extremely good value for money, with all of the content delivered in great quality. It’s a game that only finds faults in how players perceive or play it. To finally complete a story we have known and loved for 5 years is a great feeling, and no matter which path the Gears universe takes on its inevitably longer journey, the Gears of War trilogy is truly a marvel of gaming history, and will forever be remembered. This may be the end of the Xbox 360’s greatest series, but the fun is just beginning.
+ Epic conclusion to the Gears of War trilogy
+ Ton of game modes and content...
+ ... all at a supreme quality
+ Polished multiplayer components
- No more Gears for Xbox 360!
Reviewed and written by John Elliott