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Review: Gears of War 3 Ends the Trilogy on a High Note

This has been one of the greatest gaming weeks of my life, which is mainly due to the fact that Gears of War 3 is now out in the wild, and it doesn’t suck monkey toes.  In my opinion, Gears of War 3 is hands down the best entry in the franchise, and could easily be considered the top dog in Microsoft’s exclusive title lineup.  Every aspect of this game is an improvement upon its predecessor, and for me personally it’s the Gears of War game I’ve always dreamed about.  If you own an Xbox 360 you owe it to yourself and your console to play this game today!

 

Gears of War 3

EB: 10 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome: Great Campaign, Co-op, Solid Visuals, Vastly Improved Multiplayer Component

The Not so Awesome: Decreased Human Contact, Gears of War is Over (for now)

 

The Awesome

Great Campaign

The campaign mode in every Gears of War game has always delivered on the Hollywood blockbuster gaming experience, but Gears of War 3’s campaign easily outshines the previous two.  From the beginning to the end the action doesn’t slow down, and before you know it you’re watching the credits thinking to yourself, “Wow, just wow!”  The addition of Karen Traviss (Gears of War author) to the writing team for Gears 3 is clearly evident in the way the story is executed.  The Gears 3 campaign is very personal and focuses on the bond between the COG forces we’ve come to know and love over the past 5 years.  It hits at an emotional level that I haven’t  experienced in gaming since FFVII.

For the first time you as the gamer can experience more than just Marcus’ or Dom’s point of view in the campaign, which was a clever story telling technique to breath new life into the Gears campaign experience.  This technique allows for you to soak in how the other Gears have been dealing with their struggles, which gives you a clearer picture of how dire their situation on Sera really is.  It also helps to set up the emotional gut punch experienced halfway through the campaign with a sense of sadness that may not have been as intense if all we got to see was Marcus and Dom’s travels sans the supporting COG cast.

For the first time in a Gears campaign you’re not locked in with Marcus and Dom

The Gears 3 campaign is quite lengthy as well clocking in around 8-10 hours depending on the difficulty level.  In total I believe there’s 31 chapters spread throughout 5 acts.  As mentioned you will not be playing as the same COG character for the entire game.  Each chapter and/or Act may place you in someone else’s shoes, which keeps things fresh as well as developing the bonds between the few remaining COG soldiers.

All of these changes to the campaign mode in Gears 3 help to set it heads and shoulders above the competition as well as its younger brothers.  It’s a treat for any Gears fan, and a solid ending to the trilogy.  It’s an experience that should be shared amongst friends, so grab the only 3 people on this planet that enjoy your company and fight back the Locust and Lambent Hordes today!

Co-op

The Gears of War franchise has always been a proponent of co-op gaming, but Gears 3 takes this concept to a whole new level.  For the first time in a Gears game you can now play through the campaign with 3 other gamers.  I believe this is a perfect addition to the Gearsverse, and quite honestly it should’ve been a 4 player game since day 1.  The ability to roll 4 humans deep in the Gears 3 campaign makes it that much more of an enjoyable experience.  Fortunately, if you don’t have friends the AI bots are quite competent, but it’s definitely more fun with warm blooded humans on the other end of a controller.

Surprisingly, this feature doesn’t negatively effect the gameplay either.  I didn’t notice any type of lag, or glitches that were a result of playing with other live gamers.  The refined lobby makes it very easy to find people to play with if none of your friends are online, so if you’re a loser reach out and touch someone by joining their game.  I think you’ll find it to be a much more fulfilling, if not a little easier of a challenge if you play with a full team of gamers.  You need to play this game with 3 other people, your life depends on it, well, at least your gamerscore does.

Solid Visuals

I’ve already reviewed the 3D visuals of Gears 3, so please check out the link to get the scoop on that mode, because the following observations are in regards to the 2D mode of Gears of War 3.  I initially started to play this game with the 3D turned on, and even though it looked pretty solid I felt like the graphical quality was off for a 2011 game.  This fear was squashed within seconds of turning the 3D mode off, because I got to see what this game truly looks like.  BAM!

The Gears 3 visuals are as awesome as a quad lancer turret

What a beauty of a game!  Obviously, Gears 3 looks better than 1 and 2 just based on the fact that it’s technology is newer, but outside of its own franchise I think the Gears 3 visuals stand up to any game that has come out in 2011.  I would go as far as saying that it could be the best looking game on the Xbox 360.  The Unreal Engine really shines in Gears 3 with some amazingly crisp graphics, wonderfully crafted set pieces, and a lighting scheme I have yet to see in a game of this caliber.  The color tone of Gears 3 is amazing as well, with Earthy colors providing a new take on the usual bland color scheme from Gears 1 and 2.

I didn’t notice a single frame rate issue either even with all the insane action taking place on screen.  The resolution is pixel packed with all of the environments and character models looking as detailed as ever.  Gears 3 visuals are a thing of beauty that only add to the awesomeness of this game.  Gear of War 3 is proof that console games can look sexy as hell if the developer pours their heart and soul into its creation.

Vastly Improved Multiplayer Component

Without a doubt my biggest fear in regards to Gears of War 3 was that its multiplayer would suck a fat one like Gears of War 2’s.  Most of my fears were quelled after playing the beta, but you can never know how a retail game will behave once millions of gamers have it in their consoles.  Luckily, the beta period paid off in spades because the multiplayer in Gears 3 is of the high quality I’ve been dreaming about since the days of Gears 1.  I finally have the Gears multiplayer experience that I’ve always wanted: Free of lag, glitchers, and that overwhelming feeling of something not just being right.  For the first time I feel like my skills are being put to the test, and not my network connection.  Unfortunately, I have more rust to shake off than I expected, so right now I’m playing at a bush league level, but at least I’m dying because of my own shortcomings and not connection related bullsh*t.

On top of the nuts and bolts improvements the new game modes in Gears 3 multiplayer also improve upon its multiplayer offering.  The new Team Deathmatch mode is by far the greatest way to play Gears of War now.  No longer do you have to sit and wait for the next round to begin because you died charging into battle like a big dumb a-hole.  The whole life pool idea gives gamers of all skill levels the ability to maximize their playtime even if they can’t hit the broad side of a barn like me.

Lag! There’s no stinking Lag in Gears 3!

As far as the co-op based multiplayer modes both Horde 2.0, and the new Beat mode provide another outlet to get your multiplayer game on in a fun and exciting manner.  The original Horde in Gears 2 created a whole new genre of multiplayer gaming, and version 2.0 takes things to an even more enjoyable level.  Horde 2.0’s use of currency and defense based structures add to the frantic gameplay found in the original.  You now HAVE to work as a squad to have success.  You have to pool your resources together to ensure victory, and the ability to build defenses opens up a myriad of new strategies to conquer the Locust Horde.

Beast mode on the other hand is a whole new experience all together.  There’s something fulfilling about controlling certain members of the Locust Horde that you’ve never had a chance to play before.  The gameplay itself is completely unique as well.  In beast mode you are fighting against the clock as well as the COGs, which makes for a frenetic romp through each round.  Beast mode is no joke because of this.  I tried playing by myself and got the Locust guts stomped out of me faster than sh*t through a goose.  I can’t wait to get at this mode with a full squad, but I’m anticipating a very stressful experience that will surely result in some cuss words and controllers getting thrown about the room.

Let out your inner beast in Gears 3 Beast Mode

If Gears of War multiplayer has always had a special place in your heart, then you can rest assured that Gears 3 will knock your socks off on that front.  For now it’s bug and lag free, and it plays like I’ve always dreamed about a near perfect Gears multiplayer game playing.  I love it even though I’m horrendous, and on top of that it’s nice to play Gears with some of my long lost Gears buddies that I haven’t gamed with since the initial days of Gears 2.  Finally, we have the Gears multiplayer experience we’ve been waiting for.

 

The Not so Awesome

Decreased Human Contact

I honestly can’t sh*t talk any aspect of Gears of War 3.  I’m sure other critics may nit pick at the small stuff, but that’s not how I roll.  This game is f*cking solid!  That’s it, no argument.  If there is a negative to this game it’s that it’ll probably affect your social life.  I can already see that I’m spending more time than I should be playing this game, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon because of the plethora of unlocks to score from playing multiplayer.  It’s nice to hang with my digital buds again, but my real life friends will probably not be seeing me outside of my man cave for a long, long time.  Normal people may frown upon this behavior so I listed it as a negative, but to be honest with you I’m happier than a pig in a palace full of sh*t, so I’ll see you regular people in a few months.

Gears of War is Over (for now)

Not that this is a negative aspect of Gears of War 3, but it is the final game in the Fenix trilogy, and until Epic decides that they want to print money again we probably won’t see another entry in this console generation.  Gears of War is the definitive franchise on the 360, so I’m sad to see it come to an end in number 3, but I can only hold out hope that Epic will one day take us back to this world in a new Gears story.  I’m glad Gears of War 3 is finally here, but at the same time it’s slightly depressing to know that this entry in the universe is now over.

 

Final Verdict

Gears of War 3 is as close to a perfect game as one can get.  Epic pulled out all the stops for the finale in their Gears of War trilogy, and for the first time they’ve delivered a fully functional game that meets out high expectations.  The campaign is an emotional journey that will have lasting impacts on you unlike any videogame before it.  The visuals are top notch for the Xbox 360 and could be considered some of the best we’ve seen in this triple-A packed year of game releases.  4-player co-op adds a new spin to the campaign, and the revamped multiplayer component is a dream come true for fans that have stuck with the series from 2006 on.  For this I give Gears of War 3 the first ever EB 10 out of 10 Buddhas!

It totally deserves the praise it is getting, and it definitely needs to be played by anyone that has an Xbox 360.  It might ruin your social life, but in the end it’ll be worth it, because this is one of the best games I’ve played this generation.  Kudos Epic, Cliff, and Rod!  You’ve done us proud and for that I thank you.  Unlike George Lucas they’ve delivered an experience to their fans that is legendary and appreciated.  You’ve been needing to give this franchise another chance if you’re one of those tools who doesn’t recognize its greatness…

Gears of War 3 Campaign Trailer

httpvh://youtu.be/-y-vt1BkHqI

 

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Tags : Epic GamesfanboysGears3Perfection
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.