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Review: Gears of War 3
Once More... With Feeling
The Gears Of War trilogy finally comes to close that is as fun and explosive as it is memorable. While I don't feel compelled to call Cliff Bleszinski my favorite game designer that ever lived, I can not defy the fact that the Gears franchise he has created has become one of my favorites. The aesthetic of the Gears games, especially the third, feels near perfect for the universe. Gears 3 is what the first two should have felt like. The weight of the COG Soldiers and Locust Horde is spot on, the guns gratifyingly powerful, the visuals out of this world. The team at Epic have yet again outdone themselves and it shows in every aspect of the game.
The story picks up two years later after the events of Gears 2, wasting no time getting you into the action while introducing new plot features and characters early on. There is a 'Previously in Gears' video you can watch while in the campaign menu that will get you up to speed in case you're like me and are a little fuzzy on the details. I don't want to reveal too much but expect twists, shocks, sadness (yes I said sadness), anger, redemption and satisfaction while craving for more way after the main story has ended. Trust me though, It's a craving you'll like.
You once again dawn the enormous boots of everyone's favorite bad ass Coalition of Gears Soldier, Marcus Fenix, with his brother, Dominic Santiago at his side. Anya and Max join the fight as well for all you ladies out there wishing they could fight hordes of grubs as a female. Jace Straton joins the crew as well and in my opinion is a great addition. Think of a more toned down Cole Train but with just as much courage and fearlessness. COG cowboy Dizzy is back again, along with our blonde haired mechanic, Baird. The characters old and new are never annoying or too over the top, their evolution believeable. Brothers to the end is what they want to implant into your brain and that bond between comrades is always there, making you actually care about the struggles that these characters have to endure. The beginning of the game is brilliant and will bring chills to your body. The pacing of the rest of the game is also well done, yes this game is a shooter but new gameplay mechanics and diversions from the normal running, covering, and shooting are great and keep things from getting tedious. There is however a segment featuring you playing as Cole in an attempt to make you care about his former gridiron glory that, in all honestly just felt out of place and and unnecessary. Backtracking is minimal yet this is another one of my nit picks. No glaring problems that severely impact the experience are in Gears 3. You'll be convinced and genuinely interested throughout the entirety of the campaign. You can now grab three friends to join you so you can finish the fight together.
Multiplayer Woes Diminished
The multiplayer aspect of the first two Gears games have have never really reached the long-life and replay value I assume Epic wanted it to have. For me it just didn't click. Maybe it was from lack of skill or something, but I just couldn't see myself playing multiplayer frequently. Everything felt too floaty and was too fast paced for its own good. But Gears 3, Gears 3 restored my hope and all of the changes, subtle and major, are excellent. The polish pours out of the campaign into this mode making gameplay tighter, slower and fair as possible.
The weapons are balanced for the most part, I feel that the digger is a bit too strong in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing but I just guess that's the reward for getting passed the learning curves for that gun, as well as all of the others. The trusty lancer is back and sharper than ever, but you also have the reto-lancer, a bigger, squirrely shooting hunk of a gun sans chainsaw that is very powerful, but kicks harder than probably any gun I've shot in a video game. You can also hold the B button for a bayonet charge, impaling any pour soul in your path. It's quite satisfying actually.The gnasher shotgun makes it's return dealing just the right amount of damage and is yet again a blast to use. Another new weapon is the one-shot that kills in well, one shot. It is balanced however, and in the same class as the mulcher and mortar in the huge ass weapons category. All of the weapons are satisfying to use and the sounds that come out of these things are haunting. From reloading to the resonating sounds after your fire off a clip, you'd think these weapons are actually part of our reality. The improved executions are a treat also, slightly over the top but what game with the number '3' doesn't have something over the top in it? For instance there's one where you turn a downed enemy over and pound his face in with both of your fists as much as you can press the Y button. His head exploding as you deliver the final blow, of course. Below is an awesome shot of some of the executions and finishing moves, as well as a brutal example of the bayonet charge done successfully.
Modes Modes Modes!
On top of the four player co-op and Eight player multiplayer you get Beast mode and the return of the ultra fun Horde mode. As always in horde mode (2.0) you battle against waves of incoming enemies forcing you to increase your skills and work harder as a team. A great addition however are the barriers, command posts and other equipment you can purchase by earning money, by getting kills. Unlocking weapon and ammo spawns is key, as well as maintaining the barriers you put up. Hold B near a teammate to share money and acquire more expensive purchases faster. It's yet again another improvement and is a blast to play with friends. Level 50 here I come.
Beast mode however, is new and is a great addition that feels like it was carefully planned out and not just thrown in at the last second like an after thought. You can play as anything from a Ticker to a Berserker, gaining the ability to unlock and purchase different types Locust classed depending on how many kills you rack up. Its awesome controlling the enemies you spend countless time destroying in campaign, and just as fun to deal damage as them. With only twelve waves the experience is shortened but the amount of fun is not. Welcome to Gears Beast mode, you've finally made it to the party.
Get Gears 3!
Fight For A Tomorrow
Gears 3 feels like an old friend that's come back into your life minus what you disliked about them before. It's a game that succeeds in filling the spot for the third and final game in the trilogy and lives up to all the hype. If you have an Xbox 360 you would be foolish not to play this game. This is not just the triumphant end you've been looking for, but an experience that makes you proud to be a gamer. Proud to be someone who appreciates the time, talent, organization and execution that goes in to making AAA titles. Do yourself a favor and experience this oh so satisfying finale to one of the greatest trilogies of all time.