It’s done, if you’ve been without the Internet for a few months; Epic’s Gears Trilogy has come to a close. Marcus Fenix can finally hang his gun on the wall.
But it was glorious.
The campaign and it’s story have evolved since the first Gears of War waded on the 360. No longer are you forced to pick just one lucky pal to play with, or watch story characters die avoidable, almost Darwin-Award-winning deaths. For those of you picking up Gears of War 3 before the other two, the stage the plot is in at this point will inevitably disorient you: “Who are these guys? We’re where? What the hell are those things? She wears what shade of lipstick while fighting those things?” While I might recommend working your way up from the beginning, Gears of War 3 has you covered in the form of a recap special. You will need the background to understand anything going on at this point- trust me.
Gears of War 3 campaign picks up two years after Gears of War 2: Jacinto is still gone, the COG is now a fringe organization, and the world is becoming a more dangerous place. Marcus and the rest of Delta return, along with several newcomers, and a return of just about every character still alive in in the Gears of War universe. Gears of War hasn’t really been lauded for it’s story in comparison to games by the likes of Mass Effect, but players following the story to this point will be satisfied: this is the best, unforced writing Gears of War has produced in a game to date. For once, players are shown how people other than Marcus are coping with the war. Rest assured, this isn’t the "WHERE'S MY WIIIIFE" diatribe from the second game. Gears of War 3 runs five acts, and a total of thirty chapters, and is by no means a short game, especially on harder difficulties. Despite this, the story is well paced, and the gameplay sections are broken up from time to time with very enjoyable boss battles and mechanized/vehicular combat.
This time around, the game features four player cooperative play for campaign mode, doubling the amount of people that aren’t controlled with “Hey, I’ll help you back off the ground once I finish killing these guys and looting the ammo you wanted” bot AI (which can still be a problem, from time to time, on harder difficulties). The mechanics are the tightest they’ve ever hoped to be all around, from basic movement, to weapon balancing despite new additions like the controversial sawed-off shotgun. There’s even new options to switch weapons and trade ammo with party members, and to mark enemies and weapons for other players to see. The overall experience, even in the old school tight corridors skirmishes, has a lot more teamwork to actually participate in, rather than raising friends and killing the same enemies. In addition to all of this, there’s literally a plethora of new enemies, so many that I’d have to make a list (and inevitably forget one or two) to cover the new lambant and Locust enemies. Many of the new enemies force the players to use different tactics, or work together as a team to bring something down; a welcome addition to the game.
One new twist to the single player/campaign experience is arcade mode. Similar to the “Campaign Scoring” mode in the Halo series, players now compete for points. However, as they compete, they must work together to not get downed or hit, as it reduces a multiplier that is earned from killing enemies. This multiplier effects every player and all actions that receive a score. In addition to scoring, game modifiers, dubbed “mutators” can be unlocked by particular actions in the game. Some are fun, some make the game easier, and some make the game harder. Those that effect difficulty, reduce or increase experience. If you want a live studio audience laughing to your mayhem, or enemies that bleed flowers, mutators are what you’re looking for. This mode is arguably a more streamlined experience, as a player’s death doesn’t automatically lead to the team’s defeat; a modest thirty second respawn, along with the multiplier reduction, is the alternate punishment to halting the entire team’s fun. The team is still able to fail, though, if everyone sucks enough to die at the same time.
Gears of War 3 is definitely a defining affair on the Xbox 360, even before really cracking in to the alternate multiplayer modes. With promises of campaign downloadable content in the months to come, this is possibly the best singleplayer/cooperative campaign 3rd Person Shooter experience available.
|Our distinguished guest blogger: Auburok|
Auburok is an ex-writer for Gamersmark.com, an ex-intern for G4 and an ex-quality assurance drone for 2K Games. When he’s not stomping heads or chasing the achievement dragon with his girlfriend IDiivil, he’s probably writing about games.