Parent Talk: Gears of War 3 is rated M for mature. It features gratuitous violence, gore and disgusting situations. Under no circumstances should minors be allowed to play this game.
Play Like: Any other tactical shooter with a heavy cover system. Gears’ combat mechanics are similar to those seen in Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. Gears of War is the evolution of Namco’s PS2/Xbox classic Kill Switch.
Review Basis: Microsoft sent us a pre-release copy. Finished the campaign on Normal difficulty and tried Arcade, Horde, Beast mode and played a bunch of online maps on Versus mode.
Gears of War 3 is the culmination of years of hard work. Quite literally, everything has led to this. The campaign storyline is the best of the series, the multiplayer is the most ambitious and the additional two co-op modes are superb. There’s even an Arcade mode that allows players to tackle the campaign in a new and original way. Unquestionably, this is the Xbox 360 exclusive of 2011. Gears of War 3 is a serious Game of the Year contender list. It’s really that good.
The campaign is without equal. The plot is dramatic, but not overdone, the action never lets up and the pacing is pitch-perfect. I haven’t played a campaign this well-rounded, and it’s surely the best effort Epic has put out to date.
+ The story. Both the humans and Locust are on the verge of extinction. Something new and more powerful is spreading throughout Sera. A blast from the past may hold the key to stopping the madness once and for all. With this foundation, the campaign kicks off and never lets up until it ends. Superb!
+ Witnessing the past. The coolest plot element is visiting areas that are dear to each member of Delta squad. This is important as it shows the player what the world used to look like before E-Day.
+ Different perspectives. You not only play as Marcus, but also Cole Train. By jumping back and forth between them, the story flows much more smoothly and is more cohesive. Each shift to a new location makes perfect sense in the context of the characters.
+ The series remains tight and responsive. Gears employs some of gaming’s best cover mechanics, and that hasn’t changed. You can easily move from one cover to the next, blind fire, pop out and attack, and then pop back into cover. Everything you enjoyed from before is perfectly intact.
+ Environments that test you. You’ll encounter claustrophobic, linear paths and huge vistas that allow you to flank the Locust as you see fit. This variety forces players to adapt on an almost constant basis.
+ Fantastic co-op and enemy AI. Increase the difficulty and witness enemies circle around you to attack from the rear, and other madness. Thankfully you’re partnered with three extremely smart AI buddies. These folks do whatever they can to keep the Locust and Lambent at bay.
+ Nothing beats human partners. Grab three Xbox Live friends and prepare for all-out insanity. If online co-op isn’t your thing, you can always invite a friend over for two-player splitscreen.
+ Arcade, Versus, Horde and Beast modes are excellent. Each of these adds hours upon hours of gameplay. Versus features your expected multiplayer modes (Team Deathmatch, Execute, Capture-the-Leader, etc.). Arcade allows you to work together to earn big points, and customize the experience to make it easier, harder, or plain wacky. Horde and Beast work the same, though opposite sides of the same coin. Horde has up to five players enjoy the mode that Gears 2 introduced. Killing enemies earns you money which can be redeemed for stronger defenses between rounds. Beast mode puts you in Locust boots to pursue the Cogs, all the while earning money to upgrade themselves.
+ Superb audio-visual package. Gears of War 3 shows off the most stunning Xbox 360 graphics to date. You will be touched, blown away or just awe-struck. The same is true for the audio. Play the chapter “Brothers to the end” and tell me the music doesn’t add to the experience.
– Remember Gears and Gears 2? Unless you’re a fanatic, there’s a strong chance you won’t remember much. The “Previously on…” clips are nice, but don’t go far enough to bring players up to speed on the events of the previous two games. Something meatier would’ve been much better.
For whatever reason the Unreal engine can’t seem to soak a highly detailed polygon character in the rain. The characters always look flashy instead of drenched. It comes off ugly as can be, especially compared to everything else.
Gears of War 3 is the best entry in the series, and perfect way to say goodbye. I’ve played many shooters this generation and would say this campaign is one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever played. The package is oozing with quality. The volume of content should keep players connected to their 360s for a long time. While it’s sad to say farewell, I’ve sure enjoyed the ride.
Average Score Scale: 9.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10
Personal Final Score: 9.5/10 (Inflated)
Reason for +0.5 Inflation: Incredible value, best campaign in the series, great multiplayer.
Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you never liked the series, it’s the same formula only enhanced.