Gears of War 3 Review – Hope, Survival, Brotherhood

Gears of War 3 burst onto the scene this week selling over 3 million copies.  So what’s the deal with the third and final mission for Delta squad?  Read on for my review!

Gears of War 3 reunites us with our beloved Delta Squad, and if you’ve played Gears of War 1 & 2, you know that Jacinto has been destroyed in an effort to stop the Locusts.  New enemies rise up to fight the humans and the Locusts alike, and they’re known as the Lambent.  Check the video below for a synopsis to catch you up to where we are now.

Now that we have some background, let’s get to it shall we?

Storyline

Gears 3 picks up where two left off and delves deeper into mass destruction of Sera.  You play through concurrent timelines at one point, seeing the perspective of the other squad members and what they went through while you moved through a main mission.  There are many instances where the team splits up and if you are playing through on Co-op, your partner will be separated from you to perform their own missions.  I enjoyed this feature because even though we had different objectives, we were still on the same map and could render aid if needed.

Every mission is designed to get you what you need to get you closer to meeting up with your target.  Along the way, there are a few interesting plot mechanics, like the allusion to the relationship between Dom and Sam.  I could deal with the discovery that the Imulsion was a living thing, I could deal with human Lambent, I could even deal with a Lambent Berserker.  What I struggled with was a certain moment referred to in my Gamer Girl Rant.  Cue autotune cry:

Gameplay

Fans of the Gears franchise will find themselves in familiar territory here.  The weapons are more varied in this go around and the controls are smooth as expected.  For newcomers, don’t expect your character to run the forty yard dash whenever you lead them forward.  There is a sprint feature, but you may find that the normal running ambulation is slower than in other titles.

There are four modes in Gears 3.  Solo, Co-op Horde and Multiplayer.  In solo, you play as Marcus Fenix as you move through the campaign with your AI controlled team mates.  In Co-op, your partner(s) play as the other members of Delta Squad with player 1 being Fenix.  Co-op can be played locally or online, lots of fun!  In Horde mode, you (or you and your partner(s)) face waves of mobs until you are all killed.  I really enjoy this mode and there is an additional feature that takes it a step further.  While playing in Horde mode, you earn money that can be used to buy barriers, decoys, better bullets and weapons.  I had too much fun with this and I think I actually cackled maniacally at one point.  In Multiplayer, you play on a team with players against other players.  Take a look at some of that Multiplayer goodness!

The reload mini game is still in place and for those who are unfamiliar, here’s an explanation:  When you reload your weapon, there’s a bar that indicates your ammo.  Reloads trigger a cursor that moves across a sweet spot on that bar and if you hit your right shoulder button at the right moment, you will reload faster.  If you don’t time it well, your gun will jam and your reload will take longer.  If you don’t do anything at all, your gun will reload, just not as fast.

Graphics

The Unreal Engine doesn’t disappoint and delivers the gritty graphics that you’ve come to expect in this post apocalyptic world.  You get an appreciation for the graphics in the numerous and varied maps that you play through.  There are day and night maps, inside and outside, underground and underwater and lots more.  The blood spatter details are superb and the cut scenes and the gameplay match perfectly, giving you a seamless transition from one to the other.

Missions

The missions in Gears 3 were actually well thought out and conceived.  There are a few, fetch this and guard that events, but I never felt like I was playing something boring.  The various types of enemies and the different settings kept things feeling fresh and the character dialog during the fights was excellent.

Characters

The character development in this story is very well done.  You have Baird, still making wisecracks and maintaining his irreverent personality and the addition of a third Carmine made me giggle, especially when his helmet was shot off.  Wonder of all wonders, Carmine survives this one!  WHOO! Who could forget the Cole Train?

While you will enjoy familiar faces, there are a few new ones and my favorite among them is Samantha “Sam” Byrne, voiced by Claudia Black (Morrigan in Dragon Age Origins, Erin on Farscape).  Her character was tough, reliable and effective.  I appreciated the fact that they made Anya Stroud a part of the team instead of just a sort of dispatcher.  My only disappointment was the fact that I couldn’t select them as characters to play as during the campaign.  However, I can choose to plays as either of them in Multiplayer and Horde modes.

Pros

Gears 3 offers rich environments, TONS of mobs to kill, and forces you to think through situations in certain instances.  You really get the sense of the team when you need to complete missions in groups of two and the interaction between each character is spot on.

Newer and diverse enemies keep you from getting bored; you have to learn what makes them tick and the learning curve needs to be short or you’ll die.  Just a warning to those new to this franchise.  I’m used to running around and hacking through a chest cavity with the chainsaw on my Lancer.  If you try running up on a Lambent, and you don’t know what you’re doing, well, don’t be surprised when it caves in your skull.

The voice direction and acting in this game are great and really add to that immersive experience.  You truly feel like this is a team and you are a part of it

Cons

As I said above, I really wish that I could play as a female character through the campaign. Aside from that,my only other complaint in the storyline was the way that the game ended.  After years of battle, I wanted more suffering for my foe.  The scene was symbolic, but I guess I’m just bloodthirsty.

Summary

Gears of War 3 didn’t disappoint me as a fan of the franchise.  I admit that I’m biased because I enjoyed these games and this story.  The gameplay was excellent, the graphics were good and the hardcore, bloody violence was just what a girl needs to make her smile.

Overall, I would give Gears of War 3 a 9/10.

  • Buy it? – Affirmative Blue Leader, we are go

Have you played Gears of War 3?  What are your thoughts?

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