Review

Gears of War 3 Review (Xbox360)

It's not often you get to witness the 'end' of something, especially when you've actually been a follower from the beginning. That's not to say that there won't be more Gears games - the never ending money train works in mysterious ways - but in terms of this 'arc', the end has well and truly come. There's no doubt there's been a lot of hype and anticipation surrounding Gears of War 3, but you'll be pleased to know there's a fun and enjoyable game behind it all.

Although when we stop to think about it, there's really not a lot more that you could say about Gears of War 3 other than the fact that "it's Gears, just a bit better". A lot of Microsoft franchises can be like that - you can buy the latest Gears, Halo, Forza or whatever, and know to a certain extent what you will be getting. That comforting dependability means that you have nothing to fear from this final instalment... unless you never liked Gears in the first place, but then there wouldn't be anything we could say to change your mind anyway.

So, last week, at band camp...

Saying this however, as someone who's only ever been a casual Gears fan, I did find this game more.. accessible, almost, in many ways. Multiplayer especially is a considerable improvement, not just in what weapons are available, and maps etc... but just in the feel, and the fact that I didn't suck, for once. As you'll already know from the beta coverage and our own extensive previews, there has been a fair few improvements across the board.

First off, there's Horde - the 'original' Horde has come a long way over six years, and its latest (and final?) iteration has a few improvements to make it more tactical. There is now an area designated as the 'command post' which you need to defend, and killing enemies earns you money which you can use to purchase ammo, defences and equipment to help get through to wave fifty. Every tenth wave there is a boss fight, which can include everything from a Brumak to a Lambent Beserker. Brand new to this game, there is now a 'Beast' mode where you turn the tables and play as the locust horde where you attack AI defenders.

Aside from that, there is the standard multiplayer modes and in Gears 3 they've combined several of the old multiplayer modes to make more standardised ones. Team Deathmatch, which is a combination of the old Warzone and Execution match-types, sees two teams fighting against each other until their 'pool' of lives runs out. Capture the Leader, which is a combination of Guardian and Submission, where you have to hold the leader for a certain amount of time, although they can struggle free. Finally, there is King of the Hill, which is similar to Annex and plays out exactly like you think it would, moving hills and more.

Never. Getting. Old.

Any real complaints or comments we have about the game stem from the single-player. Again, it's not that it doesn't play well - it plays really well, actually, and all of the newer gameplay tweaks and features are expertly woven into the campaign - it's just that it stands out a bit from the previous games. Karen Traviss' influence is easily apparent - her own brand of narrative style coming through loud and clear. Things settle down towards the end, but at the beginning there's more than a few POV changes that gives the whole campaign a bit of a slow start, although we have to admit that she's done a good job considering this is her first videogame.

Being a gamer who puts story almost equal to gameplay, personally I was kind of annoyed at the tangent the third game seemed to go off on. Gears 2 asked more than a few questions, and whilst Gears 3 answers some of them - mainly relating to the lambent - it leaves other's painfully un-answered. Now, this could be because Traviss herself explicitly stated that you need to go read the official books and comics as well to get the complete picture, but that won't stop the initial feeling of "but what about...?" that you get when the credits role. Plus, it's a rather cheap ploy into getting you to buy into the various expanded media outlets. Just because we're gamers doesn't mean we also like comics, you know.

Still, there are some good moments here - the random levels where they completely shake up game-play help break up the constant grinding forward, and playing the campaign in four-player co-op is a real treat. Make sure you're with people you know, or at least you know are good, because if one person dies it's game-over for all, and that can be frustrating. It was interesting to note that, even on Hardcore, the game is actually easier by yourself. Whilst not exactly bright, the AI's pretty much take care of themselves, so you don't have to worry about them dying on you.

You'll have to fight through enemies both old and new to get to the end. FYI, those Armoured Kantus are a bitch

Unlike some recent releases, you'll be pleased to know that Gears 3 is rather free of any serious bugs or glitches, at least on the play through we had. Graphics as well are also really improved, although you don't really notice until you start playing some of the older games. But let's cut to the chase: Gears of War 3 is a good game. It's more of the same, but in a good, familiar way. Whether it's the ending you wanted is down to you, but the campaign is enjoyable - and a good length at around ten hours. Multiplayer is the best bit about this game, and there's a whole host of modes and options for you to play around with.

As we mentioned at the start, there was a lot of hype surrounding this game, but thankfully Gears of War 3 holds up rather well against it. For many of you, this will be a finale that's been six years coming, for others, it might just be a series that you've found enjoyable and want to pick up the next instalment. Regardless, there are worse things you can spend your money on, and we'd surprised if after a few weeks you felt disappointed with your purchase.

Best Game Moment: Bayoneting people - in the words of Baird "This never gets old"

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Comments

By JonnyBigBoss (I just got here) on Sep 15, 2011
JonnyBigBoss
Great review! The game looks pretty good. I might check it out if it comes to PC!
By JamieSI (SI Core) on Sep 15, 2011
JamieSI
No word on it coming to the PC yet, but we'll keep our fingers crossed :)
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Sep 15, 2011
JustCommunication
It won't come to PC - I asked them about it a couple of months ago. If you'll noticed Gears 2 didn't come to PC either, Gears 1 was just an experiment and I guess they didn't like the results.
By stuntkid (SI Elite) on Sep 16, 2011
stuntkid
Nonetheless, can't wait to play this :D