Gears Of War 3 Single Player - Review
Best in the series, in my humble opinion.
For many game series, the first one is amazing but the follow ups are tricky to get right because, well, you've seen it all before, yes?
Similarly, the opening entry for Gears of War was a real game changer ('scuse the pun), exchanging the tried and true first person "run and gun" mechanics, which had held sway for I don't know how many years, with completely new mechanics that came to be described as third person "stop and pop" action.
Many games have attempted to implement the idea of using cover for protection during a gunfight, but none had done it so amazingly well, before Gears came along.
For the first time, the COGs (the title of your squad) were able to stick to walls, benches and pretty much anything that came between them and the enemy, in realistic poses and hold their own for a reasonable length of time.
Moving into the open became certain death - just as it would in "real" life - but battles became more tactical and focussed on finding ways to flank the enemy to get around their cover.
Gamers now had to think, instead of just firing madly into the distance.
However, as much as I enjoyed the COGs first outing, I went on to pick up Gears of War 2, played it through ...and then got bored somewhere in the middle of the first replay.
In this article, I will review the single player campaign for Gears of War 3 to see how well it fares by comparison.
Read on to find out more.
Cover Me, I'm Going In
One of the things that put me off Gears 2, was that there were a number of situations where my character was put into small, closed locations, with very large enemies.
This proved to be frustrating, because it meant there was precious little room to manoeuvre and I got stamped on (quite literally, sometimes), while emptying barrel after barrel of gunfire in the enemy's direction.
Previously, the stop and pop mechanics worked well to make me feel that I was in the middle of a war zone.
However, in these new claustrophobic environments, the heroes suddenly seemed unwieldy and I found myself fighting as much with the controls, as with the bad guys.
I am therefore happy to report that part 3 of the series has few such limitations, and when they do happen, you are always given an alternative route, or the option to use something with a bit more power.
In fact, the level design in this game is brilliant, with wide open spaces, claustrophobic corridors, and everything in between.
There are several locations where I realised - after I had cleared the area - that there was another way through or that I had missed a really powerful weapon if I had only looked for it first.
If you've never tried Gears of War before and are up for a challenge, then you can't go wrong with this pack, which puts all three Gears games together.
Look no further for a trilogy of awesomeness!
Variety Is The Spice Of Death
Variety is evident throughout the substantial story mode.
One minute you are approaching a dead-looking village, the next you are defending the last few survivors, next you are boarding a vehicle, then you have an argument with some hardened humans, and so on.
There are lots of standout moments in the story, with one in particular based around a sports arena, which I won't spoil for you.
Trust me when I say that this sequence will have you laughing, rolling your eyes, and going "wow" all at the same time!
The controls are as good as ever, although the one area where I still have the occasional struggle is when an enemy gets in close and I am trying to melee them.
For some reason, I always have great difficulty turning my character around to face them properly, but then this was the same for the other games in the series, so could just be me.
If you've finished the trilogy and are missing it, then you can't go wrong with a prequel.
If you want even more of a challenge, then this one will kill you in seconds, daring you to do better.
Are you up for this, soldier?
We Never Leave A Man Behind
Speaking of story, I think the developers have managed to create the best story of the series in this title.
The voice acting is very well done and it actually manages to make these tough guys and girls human and in some moments, poignant.
Even the above mentioned sports arena scene manages to pull back from being too cheesy (although it is cheesy, lol).
This strikes me as odd, in a game where you are encouraged to grab downed enemies as a "meat shield", or stomp on their heads to finish them off.
However, the story provides enough contrast to the violence that it draws you into the heroes' struggle and you find yourself rooting for them, and wondering what on earth is going to happen next.
The difficulty level is well paced (I am playing on 'normal'), with more - and more difficult - enemies slowly being revealed as the game progresses.
There are also several sections where you choose a route to go with two soldiers - say, to the roof tops - while the other two go the other way - perhaps through the building.
This is great, because I already want to go back and try the opposite way in each case and since I don't play multiplayer, this will add to the replay value.
That said, you can play the multiplayer options solo with "bots" to help you out, should you so desire.
Graphics and sound are good and live up to the series' usual high standard.
The cry of some of the larger beasts will send a shiver down your spine and, if you have surround sound, around your room too.
The finale is suitably epic, with enough bitter-sweetness to make you hark back to the previous titles, but without getting too soppy.
All in all, I have really enjoyed playing through Gears of War 3 and I think it is the best in the trilogy ...until the next time.
I will definitely want to play it again, and I think that you will too.
Which is your favourite game in the Gears of War series?
This video will give you a feel for how visceral Gears of War 3 is.
Warning: may contain strong language and violence.