Gears of War 3 Review (Xbox 360)

Gears of War 3 is a third-person action adventure title for the Xbox 360 was developed by Epic games and published by Microsoft Studios.  After all the hype, does it live up to expectations?

Story: 4/5

Picking up two years after the explosion and sinking of Jacinto, our four favorite Delta members are back along with some fresh new faces that add to an overall great chemistry.  Marcus and the team have been out to sea since Jacinto’s demise. However, a new breed of locust have also reached the seas.  Delta’s tranquility period is broken up immediately in the opening by Chairman Prescott with news of Marcus Fenix’s father followed by a colossal Leviathan that attacks the ship.  From this point on, the action and set pieces of the game continue to grow and blossom into something that is simply beautiful for fans of GOW or any 3rd person action adventure veteran.  The story drives the campaign here with well-balanced plot threads and closure to the Gears of War trilogy.  However, the one negative aspect I have to state is that there are a few times where the plot becomes a bit too predictable. Aside from that, the majority of the remaining questions created in the first two games are ultimately answered here. There are a good number of surprises and twists that show great writing ability on the part of the development team. There is a specific scene that resonates strong emotions involving a character getting a flashback during part of the campaign.  After this flashback, the character begins to look at his entire life differently.  He realizes the shocking hell going on around him.  The scene conveys how this player is experiencing a deeper sense of his feelings after being numb to it due to such a long time in war and death.  For gamers like me who play games for the story first, Gears of War 3 offers a great campaign packed with hours of intensity, fast paced action, cool teamwork, and lastly, some black comedy.  Additionally, it also has a number of collectibles sprinkled throughout the levels.  These items will add a very nice backstory to the world of Sera and their struggle for survival only further enrich the story of Gears 3.

Gameplay: 5/5

The Campaign introduces four player co-op for the first time ever in Gears and it really adds to overall fun factor greatly. Different from the first two games, gamers will not be forced to play as Marcus or Dom the whole game. You will get to try out to more members of Delta Squad and see how different events and plots develop through their story. New Locust and Lambent enemies are a welcome addition with character designs that are slick and twisted but also original.  The innovative new lambent forms of Locusts are extremely dangerous in the campaign because they possess the ability to morph into any form or body keeping the player on their toes the entire playthrough.  Epic Games portrays Delta’s angst of facing the ever mutable lambent forms by giving out ammo and guns sparingly.  The enemies thrown at you during routine segments in the campaign were once considered bosses or chapter finishers in the previous installments.

The weapons you will acquire throughout the game are effective, powerful and downright fun to use as always.  The retro lancer has changed the way we look at bayonets mounted on rifles mainly because there is no chainsaw attached to your lancer but is just as effective.  One shot rifles will deliver unique and satisfying head shots, exploding enemy skulls into a flesh fragment shower. The arsenal provides a large amount of options; each and every weapon is crafted and balanced to a specific tactical liking. For players who like to get up close and personal, the Gnasher is a shotgun that deals shattering wide-angle damage, but only at close range. The Digger grenade creates an explosive crater. The Vulcan (a.k.a. huge Gatling-Gun type weapon) requires a second player to carry its ammo box. Vehicles such as a submarine will offer turrets to mow down alien fish creatures as you are passing underwater cities and a floating dead beast. The 10-12 hour campaign offers a perfect paced sequence of action and combat challenges that span such a variety of locations, it reminded me of a James Bond style game.  Multiplayer also makes a strong return with it’s highly addictive Horde modes and Competitive modes.  Horde Mode 2.0 has you taking out waves of enemy Locusts while the newly designed Beast Mode has you playing as the Locusts and setting out to kill the humans.  As for the competitive modes, nothing feels sweeter than taking out another online player and humiliating them by ripping off their arm and continuously beating them to death with it.  The sheer beauty of what the team at Epic has achieved with the Unreal Engine 3.5 cannot be overlooked.  While many games and developers try to work with and use the Unreal Engine in their games, only Epic truly masters it.

Graphics: 5/5

This game was beautifully crafted visually, with environment details only seen in very few games today. Improved graphics, animations, and lighting all help put the gamer into the world of Sera, apocalyptic beauty of a once rich vibrant world. Epic has driven the Unreal Engine 3.5 to new heights. Marcus and the other members of Delta Squad have all been redone with a more realistic approach. The characters finally seem more fluid and lifelike as opposed to the first two gears where they seemed too large and bulky. Gears of War 3 is easily one of the best looking games to date on any platform.

Sound: 5/5

The music and sound effects for Gears have always been Epic (no pun intended) and in Gears 3, it is no different.  The music of Gears is orchestrated wonderfully by Hollywood’s own Steve Jablonsky, famous for such movies as Transformers, The Island and as well as the previous Gears of Wars.  Aside from music, the sound effects really put you into the war chair, hearing the grenades and bullets whiz past your head as your taking cover for a quick second all add to the enjoyment of this experience.  Whether you’re playing in surround sound, through headsets or just through the TV speakers, you’re sure to get an uneasy feeling hearing a dying locust or glowie gargling on his blood taking one last breath.  However, the voice acting in certain scenes could have been touched up a tad bit mainly when it came to certain cinematic cut scenes. Regardless, all the music, dialogue and effects are crisp and effective in every way.

Overall: 19/20 = 9.5/10

There is no denying that Gears of War 3 is an intense shooter from start to finish. Depending on the difficulty, it challenges a variety of gamers on different skills from ammo consumption and survival to outright duck, cover and shoot techniques.  However, this is just one piece of this amazing puzzle crafted from imagination and the determination from some of the brightest minds of this gaming generation. From the campaign to the competitive modes to Horde mode 2.0, Gears of War 3 provides a massively engaging and gratifying experience.   There are few games that I would ever classify as a masterpiece due to the fact that there will always be cons or drawbacks.  However, for an epic such as this, I can safely say this will not soon be forgotten in this generation nor the next.

PROs:

+Four player co-op is a fantastic addition; New Locust creature designs are really well done.

+Perfect game length and pacing.

+Engaging story aided by beautiful and imaginative art direction.

+Addictive gameplay with a great range of difficulty.

CONs:

-Voice Acting could have been a tad bit stronger with certain main characters.

-The story seemed predictable at times, “been there, done that” sort of feel.

SECOND OPINION:
By: Glacier928 

It’s no question that Gears of War 3 was the most anticipated 360 title, as well as one of the most anticipated titles of 2011.  With that being said, it’s certainly safe to say that Gears of War 3 is one of the best games I’ve played all year.  With it’s unsurpassed use of the Unreal Engine, addictive gameplay, strong story, powerful soundtrack and tight controls, it is clear that this is a strong contender for 2011’s Game of the Year.  Once you start this game, it’s near impossible to put down.  Gears of War 3 is by far the 360’s strongest title to date and rightfully so.  Great job Epic Games!


Radio Xtreme – Episode 23

Adam Jensen looks pissed at a certain store...

Topics covered in this episode’s video podcast:

– SSX Dynamic Custom Soundtracks Feature

– Deus Ex/Gamestop Controversy

– Recap on the hottest titles releasing this month (September)

Gears of War 3 “Season Pass” Detailed

Microsoft and Epic Games just announced earlier today that they will be offering a “Season Pass” for downloadable content, very much in the vein of L.A. Noire.  The Season Pass will give gamers the first four DLC packs that will release “over the course of next year.”  The first DLC is already planned for release this November.  On the launch day of Gears of War 3 (September 20th), you can access the Xbox Live Marketplace and get the Season Pass for 2400 Microsoft Points (which is $30).  Microsoft stated that the DLC will cost a total of 3600 Microsoft Points ($45) if you don’t buy the Season Pass and choose to purchase the DLC at your own pace.

The downloadable content will not only be entailed toward multiplayer however.  There will certainly be some single-player content as well, which is always great news.  There’s another advantage to purchasing the Season Pass that should be noted.  You see that T-1000 style Lancer below?  You get that. The “exclusive Liquid Metal Weapon Set” will only be available to adopters of the Season Pass so if you want this sleek looking Lancer, you better be ready to pick up your Pass.

T-1000 would approve...

Will you be getting the Season Pass to chainsaw down your enemies with liquid metal?  Sound off your thoughts in the comments below!