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Gears of War 3 Review


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On 11/12/2011 at 03:00 PM by Jon Lewis

The Gears Trilogy ends on a strong note.
RECOMMENDATION:

If you weren't a fan of Gears of War before, this game probably won't change your mind. However this game offers one of the most polished shooting experiences this year, along with a ton of value.

Whether it's due to the fresh take it had on the 3rd person shooter, its high-stakes action, or gameplay innovations, gamers latched on to the Gears series and came to discover that this franchise was one to look out for. Millions of copies sold and many Game of the Year accolades later, Gears of War 3 is the final installment in the trilogy and it shows exactly why the series has stayed relevant and popular over the years.

The story continues with Marcus Fenix and the rest of the COG gears as they put up their last stand against the Locust and Lambent creatures. Having lost mostly everything from materials to their stronghold in the previous games, it's an extremely delicate time for the cast and it shows through their character designs. Their once bulky armor sets are considerably stripped down due to their lack of resources, and other things like weapons, ammo, and shelter are also just as scarce. While the majority of the Locust horde are gone from the first two games, the infected Lambent take the leading role as far as villains are concerned and they are just as dangerous as the Locusts, if not more. The campaign isn't necessarily lengthy but outlasts the previous two, clocking in around seven hours. The whole campaign can be played with up to four players, which I might add is incredibly fun.

The gameplay in Gears of War 3 hasn't changed much. Players have access to two primary weapons: one pistol, and grenades, which are all accessible on the d-pad. Players still roadie-run and take cover as in past games, and the quicktime reload mini game is still intact. The great thing about all of this besides the “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” approach, Epic did a fantastic job in polishing up the little things. Snapping to cover always feels responsive and guns that were previously useless have been improved. For example, the hammer burst which was good in Gears of War 2 is now given an iron sight to make its long range aiming better. The lancer, which wasn't as reliable in previous iterations, got a much needed boost with far better accuracy and less kickback, making it one of my favorite weapons in modes like Horde. Gears 3 may not take many risks, but there are still some fantastic new weapons like the One-Shot, a huge sniper rifle that literally kills enemies in one shot, and the Digger Launcher which shoots a missile that burrows under ground and pops up to surprise enemies, even those hidden by cover.

Multiplayer is one of its best assets, as expected. Players can go head to head in gametypes like the newly added Team Deathmatch. What makes this TDM special is that each team now has a stock of 15 lives. Once the stock is up, there are no more respawns, and it becomes up to the remaining players to finish the job. Of course, game types like the series trademark Execution, Wingman, and King of the Hill all remain intact and are just as fun as ever.

Players in multiplayer have the options to choose characters from the campaign as well as special guests from the series as their avatars. They can also choose their preferred weapon load out and weapon skin, which gives Gears 3 a lot more customization than past iterations. Players earn medals and level up for their progress which, especially for the hardcore, gives a lot to do and look forward to.

Along with that is the return of the Horde survival mode, where you can team up with up to four friends to take on waves of enemies. The neat twist on this horde mode is that players now have a small window of time to find a stronghold on the map. This stronghold can be upgraded with traps and weapon defenses that greatly help the resistance. Players earn these additions by spending money, which is earned by getting kills and assisting allies. Another new addition to Horde is the boss wave. Essentially, every tenth wave, players are tasked with fighting a boss-like enemy, which can range from the giant Brumach to the challenging Lambent Berserkers. In short, Horde mode has never been more tactical or as fun as it is now.

Gears of War 3 has arguably the best campaign in the series. The story has been hit or miss from the start, but this game does well to tie up loose ends and gives you its fair share of jaw-dropping moments. A few of the scenes are particularly emotional which I won't spoil for those who haven't played it, but the ending was satisfying and didn't leave the empty feeling that comes with some major campaigns in shooters. A majority of the new characters became some of my favorites and while a few of them were kind of pointless, they fit in with the already established cast. Everything clicked, and overall the campaign did justice to the series as a whole. Missions certainly didn't push the envelope, but set piece moments in the campaign help the already speedy pacing. The campaign is roughly six hours long, making it just right for this type of game and one of the longest in the series.

Gears of War 3 isn't exactly a giant step forward but it definitely did a few things exceptionally well: refined and polished gameplay, a well done plot which provides a solid ending for the trilogy, and addictive multiplayer options that will keep players coming back. This title does everything in its power to make sure that it is a fine gameplay experience. Every aspect feels right. There are barely any technical problems or balance issues (sans the debated Sawed-off shotgun) to hinder the experience and if anything, the game provides the epitome of the Gears of War experience: fun, cooperative and addictive third person shooting action.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

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