Here we go! It’s the last hurrah, the big ending! This is the final chapter to the epic Gears of War Trilogy. It only seems fitting to have a company called Epic Games be the father of this epic franchise. When they first brought us Gears of War, we saw the greatest idea in a game come to life: the Lancer. This two-in-one weapon features a machine gun and chainsaw, letting you run around and strike fear in your enemies hearts while they watch you obliterate their comrades. This gives you the ultimate feeling of satisfaction. That feeling has amplified throughout the years as we’ve waited for this final game. Epic once again leaves us speechless and wanting more with this third installment of muscles, guns, and gore. This is Gears of War 3.
We left GoW 2 by cutting the heart out of a city-sinking worm and coughing up blood that isn’t our own. Then, we had the last ditch effort of sinking Jacinto, and flooding out the final few Locust grubs after the light mass bomb failed to kill them off. Now, the COG is all but lost. Chairman Prescott has gone missing and most soldiers (or what’s left of them) live on ships along the sea, out-skirting the land. That’s where we find the loyal crew of Marcus Fenix. After his father (Adam Fenix) goes missing in a rescue mission, his only joy comes from searching for his father and taking as many Locust out as he possibly can.
His right hand man, Dom Santiago, is never too far away. The once hardened and battle ready man is now looking a bit weary and broken. After the loss of his wife Maria, he seems to have lost hope…not in the world, but in himself. Among the remaining COGs, we find Jace Stratton: the newest member of Delta team. His loud mouth and eager attitude make him right at home with the rest of the group. Next, we find Anya Stroud. Once a Radio Command Agent, she’s now down in the dirt and willing to do what is necessary to survive. There is still the “Lovable Asshole” Baird, who comes with witty remarks and the smarts to back it up. Alongside Baird is his new counterpart, Samantha Bryne. She keeps him in check with just as much, if not more, banter. Of course, Augustus “Cole Train” Cole returns to the series. The once great Thrashball player is out of the glory days and hit with the reality of retirement, so to say. The last, but not newest member, is Clayton Carmine. God knows, if it’s Gears, we have a Carmine! He provides good laughs and some serious ass whooping in Gears 3. With fun pokes at his past brothers and quick comments, he makes Delta Squad his own.
With the new COGs come new enemies: The Lambent. These are Emulsion filled Locust that will explode after being killed. Couldn’t get worse than that, right? Wrong. Some of them mutate into terrifying creatures, spitting Emulsion, and even turning into worms. Oh, happy days! Wait, it gets better. The Lambent can drop out of these “stalks” that emerge from anywhere they damn well please: from the middle of the ocean, the center of town, or your Grandma’s house. They know no bounds! These are just a few of the new surprises in store with Gears of War 3.
With the addition of creatures made from nightmares, Epic also delivers them with graphics you can’t help but stare at in awe. They really paid attention to the details in this game, whether it’s the sandstorms, the dark nights, or the cuts and scratches on your armor. Of course, great graphics can bring an occasional glitch of loading or become a bit slow, but I never found a bad enough bug to complain about in that area. Not one small detail was overlooked. Extra gore when pounding someone to death with your Hammerburst or two-piecing them with your Gnasher truly brings that extra little smile to your face.
In my humble opinion, this is one of the best campaigns in the Gears of War Trilogy. Not only do you get to play co-op, but you can play it with four people online. Playing solo can get the job done, but having the laughs and serious moments to share with friends makes this game memorable. This superb writing of the story sucks you in, making you feel what your characters are going through – bringing a realism to the experience: from E-Day and the enthusiasm we had, to the failure of all our attempts at stopping the Locust Horde. During this conflict, we sank our own cities and decimated our towns and civilians for ‘The Good Fight’, living all the resulting emotions side-by-side with the characters. This campaign really shows how it’s changed the story from ‘fighting to win’ to ‘fighting to survive another day’. The campaign plays out in the typical ‘Do-This-To-Go-Here’ fashion, along with many surprises from old characters such as Colonel Hoffman and (my personal favorite) Dizzy Walin! That old trucker and his damned hat bring a good sense of humor to a dark and scary world.
With these little highlights, the main story follows Adam Fenix. Wait, who? I thought he was dead?! Well, according to Chairman Prescott, he’s been kept safe at a nice little island called Azura. Once Marcus finds out about this…well, let’s just say that Hell hath no fury like a man searching for his dad with a chainsaw attached to his gun. This is only one example of the many main plot points in this game. Another main plot surrounds the Emulsion. Once the fuel of the world, Emulsion is now causing humans to change into something a little more frightening than just being lambent. There is something quite dark about having to kill what once could have been your very friends and family. This game definitely has some dark moments that keep you drawn into it and wanting more.
The levels are very well laid out, with exciting firefights and unique choices. They keep elements of surprise around every corner: from boss encounters to endless waves of Locust coming at you, forcing every shot to count. Whether you venture along the sea or travel to the heart of the Locust nest, the campaign never has a dull moment. In fact, it has a lot of fun flashbacks to show you memories from the lives of the characters. Venturing to Cougar stadium will let you see highlights from Cole Train’s glory days, contrasting his now hardened life as a Gear. These little tidbits bring you closer to the characters and keep you involved.
I would love to delve more into the campaign, but we have other things to cover! To sum it up, the campaign offers great graphics and a story line that keeps on sending you through twists and turns. All of this leads up to a finale that makes you start asking some serious questions about Adam Fenix: his intentions, the sacrifices that have been made, and who the Hell is Marcus’s mom? One can only wonder! Now let’s get to what many people bought the game for — The Versus Mode.
Epic gave us one finely polished multiplayer this time around. We all remember the ‘HOST’ issues from GoW 2. Well, now we have dedicated servers! These are such a major improvement from the previous installment. I actually had a chance to play in the Multiplayer Beta for this game as well. I played with some famous testers, and even got to play with a few Epic developers. The Beta showed off the new weapons and abilities that Gears 3 would feature. New weapons include the One-Shot, the Sawed-off Shotgun, and the Retro-Lancer. Each new weapon brings new style to the gameplay. The Sawed Off Shotgun, though lacking range, can pack a hefty punch up close. The Retro Lancer has twice the power, but twice the ‘bloom’ (spread of your reticule while firing). It was nice to see certain issues balancing out within the multiplayer early on. The gameplay was very smooth and processed, while the controls fit very well with how gamers want to play. The maps were well planned and laid out, creating an excellent balance of close quarter and long range fighting options. These details make for an all around great multiplayer, both in looks and functionality. Another new addition to multiplayer is Beast Mode. Beast Mode is where — you guessed it — you get to play as the Locust! The objective is to kill as many humans and Gears as you can before the timer runs out. You earn money by killing enemies, then unlock bigger and better creatures to play as with the money you earn. My personal favorite is the Berserker. GoW 3 finally allows players to be the crazy monster that is virtually unstoppable, and destroy everything around you. It’s just pure fun! They’ve also added onto the Horde Mode. It’s called Horde 2.0, now with barriers and forts to build up and fortify. You can earn money to buy all these things, and hopefully earn enough money for a special prize at the end.
To wrap this game up, the campaign and story line are phenomenal. The plots are thick and mysterious; the characters are polished and give it their all in the last go around. The graphics are clean and smooth throughout the entire game. The Multiplayer is better than ever, along with Horde 2.0 and the new Beast mode. These wonderful changes are sure to keep you hooked on this game for weeks and months to come. Like all the previous Gears of War titles, you can expect plenty of DLC and Add-ons to entice you even more.
I give Gears of War 3 5 “Curb-stomps” out of 5.
by Luke Wyatt