Gears of War 3 Review

Gears of War 3 (Available only on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-5
Genre: Shooter
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Epic Games
Release Date: September 20th, 2011
Xbox Live: Online multiplayer

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 Great:

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 Good:

+ 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.

The Bad:

– 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.

The Ugly:

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.

The Lowdown:

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.

30 thoughts on “Gears of War 3 Review”

  1. I might get this, but later down the road. Not really that big a fan of Gears, and there are other games I’d rather get this season first. Still, an excellent review boss man. :)

  2. I can’t wait to get my 360 GoW 3 edition in the mail either. This review makes me want it even faster hehe

  3. It’s the perfect way to end the series. We need to try our hand at four player coop guys. My Xbox Live username is Rockman1974 so add me if you haven’t already done so. We could blast through some of these achievements…and others not so much. My only problem is the accounting course I’m taking is kicking my ass lol. Anyways, I’ll be on Live whenever I’m not studying and practicing problems. My next reviews will be ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection and X-Men Destiny on September 27th. The Collection will be like the God of War Origins Collection though, short and to the point.

  4. Nice I shall add you when I get my Xbox 360. My gamertag is Sku11trasher. I’m down for some co-op but it shall have to wait till October when I get decent internet & apartment. My current internet at parents house is so slow, I just bought Resistance 3 pop it in 676mb update 3 hours later 50% downloaded lol ….. lameness….

  5. Yeah guys that’s one of the biggest annoyances with any AAA PS3 software these days, pre-release patches. I forget exactly what patch number Resistance 3 was at, but it was quite high as if this had been the third or forth path already. When I want to play a game, I just want to shove it in the system and away I go. Speaking of updates Epic released one for Gears last night, but it took all of three seconds to download it. Send me a message on Live once you guys have the game and are ready. Steven you can send me a text and if I’m home I’ll get on right away.

  6. Now that the game has officially launched I tried some online coop and well, people suck worse than I do lol. I wanted to play on Insane, but was doing better on my own so I’ll wait for you guys. There are portions that will be down-right insane, especially towards the end. Scratch that, right at Act II towards the end is hard enough. With four players that know Gears well, I think it’s more than doable.

    Horde has been a blast just by myself, but online it’s much better. People don’t listen though so it gets really annoying when you want to get to wave 10 and these morons won’t fortify a position. You should see what comes after you in wave 10 lol. I only tried a bit of Beast mode, but it looks like it will be fun with the right people. Shame I’ll have to leave this behind before too long thanks to all the upcoming games. Do let me know when you guys get your copies though so at least we could tackle the campaign.

    Just so you all know, I have my course on Wednesday from 6 onwards so that evening is pretty well shafted.

  7. I should get my copy tommorow if everything all works out. My problem is my connection but I shall test it out regardless. Can’t wait :D!!!!

  8. Like I said, tomorrow after about 5PM I’m at University for my financing course. Thursday and Friday I’ll be practicing some problems in the morning but after that, I’m all good. I’m not even sure if going through the campaign on Insane is possible with two players, because I have a feeling if one of the AI characters is killed, it’s game over for all of us. Either way, I’m game to try ;) I’d also love to practice some more Horde and Beast modes. Versus is the least interesting to me because I tire of typical deathmatch gameplay extremely quickly for some reason.

  9. Had a great time today Steven, can’t wait to finish everything off tomorrow. If we can’t complete it all by Thursday, then we surely will have time on Friday. Also loved the video you posted. You should shove it up here as well.

  10. Feel free to put it here man, just have a crazy schedule lately. Just finished work, now need to get to the gym and take a quick shower after so I can make it in time for our little date at 2.

  11. Yeah Steven, I know what it means to be busy dude. I’m basically not going to study at all today because of our date lol. I have to cook Sarina a nice meal at 5 and then hopefully I’ll be free afterwards, but who knows. She’s the boss of me :(

  12. You need to complete the game before you unlock Insane, and I doubt any of us are going to be able to tackle it because if one person dies, it’s game over for the entire group. So basically everyone has to be awesome at this game lol.

  13. I always thought you had a change to revive your partners?? Wasn’t that feature in previous Gears or just not imputed in the Insane difficulty to make things harder?

    I did read tho that in Arcade mode aslong as 1 person is still alive it is not game over!!

  14. Tried out Act 1 on Insane difficulty with AI and it was quite challenging in only 2 parts tho. If you die it’s back to the previous checkpoint but atleast if your AI die they can be revived.

    Also while playing on Insane I had found out you can swap weapons with your AI partners and I found a trick when I depleted my boomer I gave it to Carmine and took his Lancer further down i swapped for the boomer and to my surprise it had 4 grenades in it :D, also tried it with the torque bow he usually carried and it was the same it does make trying to get a Lancer easier when you deplete big weapons.( I do think that if you try this frequently u either get a empty weapon or 1 ammo in it)

  15. We should plan a 4 player co-op arcade legendary playthrough of this game. I think it’s doable, there are only 2 parts which are 2 boss fights that I know will make us bitch like no tomorrow. Even at hardcore, Jarrod and I had quite a few problems with those boss parts.

  16. That final boss is without a doubt the only part that will give us huge problems. There are a few other parts like Steven said that could prove challenging, but with four real people I don’t think it would be too bad. We just need to arrange something. Wednesdays are clearly out for me because of the course I’m taking, but let me know what times you have available. We also have to net a fourth person.

  17. I currently finished act 2 on Insane and the place that was most a pain their for me was the chapter where you need to take over the blimp, I could just imagine being 4 players in there and already have barely any proper cover from those boom guns and having to keep retrying.

    How was the berserker battle? I was thinking that one might be challenging aswell.

  18. Remember that Steven and I only played on Hardcore so if you’re playing on Insane you’re already experiencing way more than we have. Are you doing it solo?

  19. Today after work i’ll finish up Insane I’m at the end anyways. I shall post up tips and tricks for anyone who plans on attempting Insane and also places where I believe would be challenging for single or even Co-op :).

    Also whenever we can find that 4th player I’ll be willing and able to do 4 player co-op and help you guys out!

  20. Finally, after 1 hour of failing taking a break and trying again I have defeated the final boss on Insane difficutly. By far the second part of the final battle is the hardest.

    Here are some tips for anyone willing to try it solo:

    1. AI partners are a godsend at times. They might look stupid but they can kill while you hold back when needed. Also give them power weapons( Torque, Boomshot, Digger) can be given when empty. They can die and be revived so don’t be afraid to let them do their thing :)….

    2. Cover is our bestfriend, be patient and don’t get too close to enemies, most hits are instant kills.

    3. Keep a power weapons handy at all times with either a lancer, retro lancer or hammerburst. Leave the longshot for AI it can be hard to take time and aim your shots when it doesn’t take much to kill you. Shotgun is pointless in my opinion until Act 3 with the infected.

    4. Trial and error. Most of the time your death will be because you either went too fasat or bad positioning. Only two sections of the game I have to have barely any cover to keep you alive. Act 1 before entering the stadium against Gunkers & Act 2 trying to board the Gas barge.

    The only advice I have for 4 player Co-op is play together, be patient and communicate :)!!!!

    Good luck

  21. Congrats Stephane. That’s quite the accomplishment. Yesterday Bethesda dropped off Rage so now that’s going to be taking up virtually all of my free time. Let the good times roll!

  22. I did just recived my copy yesterday and iam in chapter 1-5 i guess, it is really a beautifull game, graphically speaking and gameplay wise is great, once i finish the solo campaing i will be playing multiplayer, although iam a little scare because is my first time online with this series and i know there are a lot of experts out there, it will be a hard time but it will be worth it.
    Just in case my gamertag is Manuotaku.

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