Review: Gears of War 3

Bringing an amazing trilogy to an end, Gears of War 3 opens eighteen months after the conclusion of Gears of War 2; the sinking of Jacinto in an attempt to destroy the Locust once and for all.With such a long time frame unaccounted for on the planet of Sera, some plot holes may appear and leave the player confused.At Empty Wallet Gamer, we stick to game reviews only but I have to delve into the world of literature for a minute.Karen Traviss has written novelization of the eighteen month gap in comics and three books; Jacinto’s Remnant, Anvil Gate, and Coalition’s End.Pick these books up for a nice in depth look at what happens to our favorite members of the COG during these missing months. As Karen Traviss is also the writer of Gears of War 3, she does a fantastic job of tying everything together in a neat package.

We find the remnants of Sera’s survivors living on a COG battleship, struggling to survive on a planet where the Lambent have risen and taken over the surface.As Marcus, you gather the rest of your squad, and head out to meet an inbound chopper, with Chairman Prescott aboard.During this meeting with Prescott, a data disk is given to Marcus with a revelation, one I won’t tell here in case you haven’t played yet.The Lambent intervene, and the ship wrecks leaving the survivors scattered on land.The game continues on as you make your way towards the aforementioned revelation.

Playing through Gears of War 3 was a much anticipated event, I participated in the multi player Beta, my game was pre-ordered, and I took the day off from work to experience it.Charging through the first 4 of 5 acts, I charged into every fire fight eager to use my Lancer chainsaw on Lambent and Locust alike.Where in most shooters you can get away with that, Gears 3 isn’t so forgiving.The game incorporates a cover system, tapping “A” will allow you to duck behind obstacles, in doorways, and fire from cover.Enemies, even on “Normal,” have the ability to put you down with well placed shots, leaving you crawling around hoping an AI helps you up before you bleed out.Helpless during these time, I could only crawl in the direction of my squad praying they will reach me before a Locust grub curb stomps me into oblivion, or an over eager Ticker detonates itself , smearing me into paste.The firefights, and ambushes presented throughout the game are well paced, with some being difficult bordering on impossible in Hardcore and Insanity modes.

 Graphically, the series has come a long way from the first Gears of War.While maintaining the life like gritty feel of the series, Gears of War 3 manages to bring a bit more light and color to the game without losing the war torn planet’s atmosphere.With less time spent underground in the Locust tunnels, players are brought across the surface of Sera, with oceans, beaches, abandoned cities, and a Thrashball stadium are among the places visited as you battle through hordes of Locust and Lambent.Standing out amongst other locations are the cities of Mercy and Char.

Mercy is a beautiful city, set with statues, a cemetery, and church; it seems almost unscathed by the war.Playing through this chapter, Mercy’s beauty creates a haunted feel, giving the game almost a sense of survival horror.To be so untouched, yet so empty, led me to that feeling of foreboding as I explored through the abandoned city.Cut scenes toward the end of the chapter, accompanied by a piano piece of “Mad World” by Gary Jules formed a lump in my throat and made for one of the best cinematic sequences I’ve ever experienced in a game.

Char is the counterpoint to Mercy; it leaves no illusion of being untouched by the war.Entering Char, I was given a firsthand experience of the devastation wrought by the Hammer of Dawn Strikes.A post apocalyptic wasteland, bodies cooked into ash, frozen in the final moments of their lives led to empathy for the Stranded and their hatred for the COG.A truly haunting scene were the bodies frozen on a jungle gym standing behind two playground horses, eerily reminiscent of Sarah Connor’s dream in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

A review of this game would not be complete without a look at multiplayer.Gears of War 3offers something for everyone; TDM, King of the Hill, Capture the Leader, Wingman and Execution.TDM gives each side a number of lives, and the fight to kill the other team is on.King of the Hill has the players holding a circle for a certain period of time to earn points.The first team to reach 150 points wins.Wingman is an interesting variation, as it puts teams of 2 against other.Your team of 2 must kill all other teams.Each team is given one life.Execution is TDM but players must be killed by using executions, one feature in this that I didn’t like was that map-based weapons and explosions counted as an execution.Maneuvering around players to try and curb stomp downed players was greatly reduced by the number of players only using shotguns for quick splatter kills.Capture the Leader has each team trying to capture the enemy leader and hold them for a period of time for the win.

With the new addition of the Sawed-Off shotgun, an inevitable war has begun as to which shotgun is the “cheaper” weapon.The Gnasher holds 8 rounds with a max of 39.A faster rate of fire and quicker reload, but less damage makes the Gnasher a decent weapon for 1v1.The Sawed-Off holds 1 round with a max of 12.With one shot, a slow reload even if you hit the active reload but an almost instant kill weapon up close, the Sawed-Off is great for taking out multiple enemies with one shot.Each has its uses, and the individual player can decide which they prefer.

Beast mode places you in control of the locust, starting off as lowly tickers, wretches, and grunts.Your goal is to kill all the humans and destroy fortifications through 12 waves.As you complete either of these two actions, you earn money to buy bigger and better Grubs.Working up to play as a Berserker or Armored Kantus was fun, as DLC is released, it would be nice to see more waves available as most games go by quick.

Finally, we come to Horde mode.Horde mode is five players versus 50 waves of Locust, with every tenth wave being a boss wave.Establishing a base allows you to build fortifications; sentry guns, wire barriers, decoys, and more.Every enemy killed awards money to be used towards fortifying your base against the progressively harder waves.Playing through all 50 waves one night in a 4 ½ hour time period, I was online with a friend and 3 random players.We were fortunate that the group was a solid team, and our biggest struggle came in waves 41-50.With enemies on every side, my friend and I were the only two survivors against a Lambent Berserker.We eventually prevailed, and I was a bit disappointed when I was only awarded 10 gamer points for the X-Box 360.A small complaint, compared to the fun I had during that session of Horde.

Gears of War 3 is an all around solid game.From a story perspective, it concludes the trilogy nicely.Graphically, it stands out with the details adding to the atmosphere of a war torn planet.The game play is top notch with only a few glitches here and there in the cover system.For the Empty Wallet Gamer, the pre-owned price is unsurprisingly $54.99 at Game Stop.This is a game that is well worth the price and comes highly recommended.

Steven Jackson

Final Verdict- 100%