Review by jparis09

"An Epic Conclusion To An Epic Trilogy"

Gears of War 3 was one of the most anticipated games of 2011. It is the third and last game of the trilogy. The Gears series is known for is great use of the cover system seen often in this generations games, the multiplayer component, non-stop action, and its gorgeous visuals. When announced, developer Epic Games knew they had to deliver on what has turned out to be arguably the best third person shooter this generation.

Story 9/10

Gears of War 3 takes place exactly 18 months after Jacinto was flooded. Of course the war continues on the Locust but now there is a different, more dangerous threat, the Imulsion infected Lambent. After the sinking of Jacinto, most of the human survivors have moved to the island of Vectes. Soon after the Lambent begin to appear. The COG now are forced to go there separate ways, all seeking safety. You find out early on that Marcus dad is still alive and has a plan to destroy all the Locust and Lambent. Needless to say this begins a long journey for the Delta Squad as now they have hope to end this was they have been losing quite a long time now. Speaking of Delta squad they have also recruited a few new members, Anya Stroud, Samantha Byrne and Jayson Strattonplus and Carmine. There are now a total of 8 playable characters. With this said Epic has implemented a 4 player cooperative option to campaign mode. You and three more of your friends can team up and curb stomp some Locust together as one big happy Gears family. The campaign mode focuses more on survival this time around. There are chapters where you are looking for food and supplies and the whole theme of the campaign is survival. Like always, the campaign wastes absolutely no time throwing you into the action. You will find yourself blowing up enemies, popping heads, and curb stomping those pesky Locust within the first 2 minutes of the game. Every corner you turn there will be guns blazing, heads exploding, and blood spilling action everywhere. The action is intense and plentiful. There are also "Silverbacks" Silverbacks are these powerloaders that have machine guns installed on them. These are fun a change from your normal routine. Once again there are 5 Acts. There are about 6 Chapters in each Act. For all you completionist out there, Epic has included the usual COG tag collectables but also has included other collectables you will find throughout the campaign. The collectables can basically be anything ranging from journals, diaries, jewelry or other types of items. There are four different difficulty settings, Casual, Normal, Hardcore, and Insane. Insane mode is locked until you have beaten the game once. This campaign will take longer than previous entries in the series depending on how you play it. Epic has done a great job on the campaign as it will keep you entertained for at least 10-15 hours.

Gameplay 9/10

Epic has decided not to stray away from the already great formula in the gameplay department. Luckily for us Epic has improved on a few elements of the game to make it run much smoother than its predecessors. The cover system has been improved. In previous installments, while still an awesome cover system, sometimes you would find yourself getting stuck to walls, or taking cover on a wall that you didn't intend on taking cover behind. That has been improved and is rarely an issue now. There are also a ton of new executions to use here. You can rip a Locust arm off and beat them with it, or simple bash their brains in till there head explodes leaving nothing but Locust guts and a bloody corpse. This absolutely never gets old. It is always fun to kill enemies in a new exciting way. Of course with new executions, we all know that means you get new weapons, and there are a couple of new ones this time around. For starters there is a "Digger Launcher." This is a bad-ass gun that fires a grenade underground that looks for enemies. Once it is in the area it comes from underground and explodes taking out everyone around it in once ferocious blast. The "One Shot" is basically huge sniper rifle. It is very heavy so slows your player down when it is equipped. It will kill in one shot regardless of where it hits, hence the name "One Shot." The "Retro Lancer" is a re-designed Lancer that has a bayonet attached instead of a chainsaw. You can rush enemies and impale them, and watch as you drain the blood out of your opponent. All of the weapons from previous games return also. Gears 3 also feels much faster than Gears 2. Everything feels much smoother, quicker, and simply just better. A tagging system has also been implemented. This system is very similar to the system seen in other games such as Battlefield Bad Company 2. You can tag an enemy leaving a red dot over their head. This makes it so that CPU controlled allies will focus their fire on that enemy. For human controlled the red dot will appear on their HUD alerting them to the enemies' position. Swapping weapons and ammunition is also a new feature. This is especially helpful when playing with CPU controlled allies as it seems they never run out of ammunition anyways. Some of the cover can be destroyed also. This changes how you must approach battle simple because you can easily be exposed after a few short moments of being in cover. As I said earlier, Epic has chosen to be relatively conservative in the gameplay department but has made a few improvements to give it a fresh new feel. The gameplay is just as fun as it has always been and will not fail to impress as it only gets better as you enter the multiplayer component of Gears 3.

Multiplayer 10/10

As we all know Gears 2 multiplayer have a very rough start. Tons of exploits, glitches, latency issues, screwed up matchmaking system, and a broken cover system, the list could go on. Gears 2 multiplayer could be summed up in one word "frustrating" There were many Title Updates for the game just to simply make it somewhat enjoyable. This is not the case at all for Gears 3. The multiplayer has been completely overhauled. Epic decided to release a beta for Gears 3 in April. This was a great decision as it helped them pinpoint some issues early on before the release in order to make one of the best multiplayer games this generation. Gears 3 runs on dedicated servers. This gets rid of the infamous host advantage and input lag made apparent in previous games. "Team Deathmatch" is one of the new modes introduced. It is basically like your standard Team Deathmatch with a little Gears twist to it. You start off with fifteen respawns for each team. After your respawns are all depleted it turns into an "Execution" style last man standing type mode in which you all have one life left. Also introduced is "Capture the Leader." In this mode one player on your team will be randomly designated as the leader. Your objective here is to capture the other teams' leader for exactly thirty seconds while protecting your leader all at the same time. This is similar to Gears 2 "Submission" mode but instead of having a NPC person to capture you are actually capturing a human player. Back once again is "King of the Hill" in which you hold a marked point for as long as you can, earning points to win in the process. "Wingman" is also back. In this mode you are set up in teams of two going against three other teams. Of course, the classic "Execution" and "Warzone" modes are playable too.

In Gears 2, "Horde" mode was introduced. It was very well received. Epic has brought it back will a lot of improvements. You can play this with up to 3 other friends. Horde 2.0 is heavily based on a currency system. You earn money for everything you do, from completing waves to scoring those satisfying headshots. You can earn this money to buy ammunition, and set up traps and decoys. You can buy turrets to fire at the enemies. You can also buy Silverbacks. For those who know about Horde mode you will see how helpful a Silverback can be when it comes to those higher waves. Between each wave you will be given time to set up your base to make it that much easier for you the next wave. Every tenth wave there will be a boss to kill. This is also a new addition to the mode. Like Gears 2 there are a total of fifty waves with every tenth wave getting harder in difficulty. All of these new additions brings a exciting strategic approach to the mode. A brand new addition to multiplayer is "Beast Mode." Beast Mode pits you on the other side of Horde Mode. There are twelve waves here and you are cast as the Locust. You will be given Locust forces to go and attack the humans at their base, tearing down their defenses. This will earn you money so you can unlock stronger creatures to make your job easier. Unfortunately there are only those twelve waves to complete. This is still a fun new addition to the game as it puts you in the shoes of the Locust, an experience that we have not seen thus far in previous installments. You can also unlock "Mutators." Mutators are a special option which allows you to turn on things such as a "Big Head" mode, "Infinite Ammo" and also "Must Active Reload" modes. There are a lot more Mutators that are unlockable. These Mutators give Horde and Beast mode a little twist and can make it more difficult and fun.

The leveling system has been greatly improved from Gears 2 also. You gain experience points for everything you do from campaign to mulitplayer. Epic has also implemented medals now. Things you do online will unlock medals for you. For example getting two hundred kills with the gnasher shotgun will unlock you a gnasher specialist medal. These medals make it so you will try different tactics and weapons in order to unlock them. You can actually get a title to show off under your gamertag if you unlock them. Medals are a great fun addition and it makes the multiplayer a deeper experience than it already is. You can also unlock different skins for your weapons and characters to play with. There are a ton of different skins you can unlock for your weapons. Tiger camo, flame, gold plated weapons are only a few of them. This individualizes you and gives you a unique look while playing online. There are a total of 100 levels to get. Earning medals and achieving objectives will help you rank up fast. There are a total of ten maps but of course that number will increase in the near future with all the DLC Epic has planned to release. Expect to spend countless hours playing online. Epic has improved their multiplayer on absolutely every level possible this time around and has delivered on every front to make this one satisfying online experience.

Graphics & Sound 10/10

As expected Gears 3 is absolutely stunning in the visual department. Unreal Engine 3.5 looks amazing. Epic has paid great attention to detail. Everything looks crisp and bright. Blood splatter is great. When you blow up an enemy it looks amazing to see the blood splatter on the walls and in the air. The character models also look very nice. Destructible environments also are impressive. You can tell in the aftermath of a firefight that every bullet you shot landed somewhere as cover will be destroyed, there will be body parts, and bloody corpse laying everywhere. Installing Gears 3 to the hard drive is highly recommended. A few framerate issues were apparent when playing without it installed. They don't take away from the experience at all though. When installed they were non existent. Overall this is a very sexy looking game. The use of sound and music is also among the best this generation. All of the weapons sound realistic and have their very own unique sound. Headshots still have that unforgettable satisfying sound you can only hear in the Gears series. The voice acting is also good. The use of music in the campaign is among the best in recent history. Steve Jablonsky does a superb job composing this game and his audio work will keep you immersed in the action.

Playtime & Replayability 10/10

Like mentioned earlier the campaign will take you about 10 to 15 hours to complete. There are over 50 things to collect during the campaign also. This will extend your playtime for a few more hours. In order to play Insane mode you must beat in once so this encourages a second playthrough. With all the medals to unlock, levels to gain, modes to play, and achievements to unlock the online play will last hundreds of hours so playtime is not an issue as you will be playing this game for months and months to come.

Final Verdict 9/10

Pros

+ Action Packed Campaign
+ Beautiful Graphics
+ Deep Online Experience

Cons

- Minor Framerate Issues
- Conservative Gameplay Improvements
- Few Waves In Beast Mode

Closing Comments

When the first Gears of War came out nobody expected for the series to get as popular as it has. Here we are years later with the release of Gears of War 3, a game that has stood out as arguably the best third person shooter this generation and maybe even ever. Epic has increased the gap between Gears 3 and any other competition in the gaming industry so far. With outstanding gameplay, online play and jaw dropping visuals this is a must have game this year. Whether it be the retail edition, limited edition or even for you big spenders the Epic edition, go do yourself a favor and purchase a copy. Enjoy.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/11, Updated 10/31/11

Game Release: Gears of War 3 (US, 09/20/11)


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