Gears of War 3 is here and it is larger, bloodier, and more bad ass-ier! Did Cliffy B and the boys over at Epic Games pull it off, or did they just rehash the older games? We’ll break down both of the game’s components of campaign and multiplayer and tell you why Gears of War 3 is the number one reason to buy an Xbox 360.
Two years have passed since the sinking of Jacinto, but the Locust threat has been replaced by a more dire one: the Lambent, explosive mutated Locust who have spent too much time around the precious resource, Emulsion. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) has disbanded. With no place to call home, the Gears (COG Soldiers) led by Marcus Fenix, have taken refuge on a warship. Dominic Santiago, still devastated by the loss of his wife, has thrown down his Lancer and is now a farmer. Baird and Cole have gone out to search for food and supplies. In these desperate times, even the female desk officers like former dispatcher, Anya, have taken up arms to fight for the survival of all humanity on the planet Sera.
Marcus has received reports that former Chairman Prescott is on his way to the ship with an important message. Marcus’ father, Professor Adam Fenix, is somehow alive and being held captive by Queen Myrrah, the leader of the Locust Horde. In the message, Adam Fenix claims to know how to stop the Lambent horde, but the message is only partially complete and needs another encryption key to unlock the rest of it. So Marcus and the gang have to find Colonel Hoffman who holds the other key to unlock the exact location of where the professor is being held. But before they do, their ship is overrun by Lambent coming out of the sea. The ship crashes onto the beach. With no supplies, vehicles or hope the COGs must solve the puzzle of where Adam Fenix is and what new weapon has he developed to solve the Lambent problem.
Much Better with Friends!
If you have played the first two games, Gears of War 3 will be very familiar. It is a beautiful 3rd person shooter with enough testosterone to choke Arnold Schwarzenegger. But this time is different. Instead of the boys being rough and tough, you can actually see worry in the eyes. The characters are vulnerable, especially Dom and Cole who really wear their hearts on their sleeves this go around. Even Marcus seems to be on the breaking point.
You can play by yourself and have a great time. You will find that the AI is a lot smarter and very well equipped to handle every situation without you lifting a finger. They won’t take your ammo and will revive you when you are down. Some players may even find that the “Hardcore” difficulty level is really easy due to your AI companions doing a lot of the heavy lifting.
However, the game is really meant to be played in 4-player co-op. There a lot more enemies on screen. Bosses like the Brumak and Corpser are back with more frequency and larger numbers. You need to have your mics on to properly coordinate strategies for flanking and cover. You also have to make sure you share the ammo. Now that the government is no longer supplying the soldiers, you will have to scrounge and scrap in order to be properly equipped. Ammo will come in lower quantities and you’ll find yourself scavenging the bodies of fallen enemies for weapons and bullets just to stay alive. Don’t fret though, if your partners are well stocked, you can weapon swap and share the wealth.
It Pays to Play!
Another fun factor of playing with friends is Arcade Mode. You can play Standard, but in Arcade Mode, you and your teammates will get a score as you progress through the levels. You will also gain experience and ribbons. The experience you gain will unlock characters and other goodies. And your score will based on how effective you are with your kills. To explain: you will get more points with things like headshots, taking down multiple enemies with a single grenade, killing boss creatures, etc. When each chapter is complete, you’ll earn ribbons which will also gain experience. So if you were an awesome team player and had the most revives, you get a ribbon and extra experience. All of your hard work will pay off in the long run, especially when it comes to unlocking your favorite characters for multiplayer.
The Enemy of Your Enemy is not Your Friend
The Lambent have taken over in a big way and without warning and remorse. You’ll find yourself walking towards your objective, and like the emergence holes in the first Gears, the Lambent will come out of nowhere. They will come at you with no fear and in large numbers. They will be equipped like the Locust but will also come in deadlier mutated forms. If you have seen the game’s trailers, you know you will face a Lambent Berserker. She is as deadly as she is ugly! But just because the Lambent are taking over Sera and also wiping out the Locust, don’t expect the Queen to order her troops to help you out as she has her own agenda. She will have her army trying to stop you at all costs. You will be at times being attacked from both sides by both factions. Not to spoil anything, but a new enemy is introduced mid story to throw in a bigger monkey wrench into the mix.
Finally, a Story that Makes Sense!
As a Gears fan I can honestly say the the first game really didn’t have much story depth: go from point A to point B and kill monsters along the way. But it was still fun. Gears of War 2, written by comic book writer Joshua Ortega, added a more science fiction feeling, but everyone cried foul that the Lambent story arc was too similar to the Flood of the Halo franchise. Gears of War 3 was written by veteran novelist, Karen Traviss. Not only has she written the Gears of War novels, but she has a background of writing military novels with rich character development. This final chapter of the game adds so much depth to the main characters that you understand why they must save Adam Fenix. A lot of questions from previous games will be answered. When it ends you’ll feel a sense of closure as well as sadness and pain along the way.
If all this on one disc wasn’t enough, check out the next page for thoughts on Multiplayer!