Review – Gears of War 3 – What a Killer Last Ride

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Welcome to the last hurrah in a series that has helped shape and define shooters since the release of the first Gears. This series has developed and aged almost perfectly when compared to a lot of the “make a quick buck and run” sequels we see all too often. This last offering in the current story arc is once again a third person shooter that utilizes team tactics and cover. Personally I do not like a lot of third person shooters because I always feel pulled out of the story and watching it unfold over someone else’s shoulder is a bore. Gears was one of the first to change that for me. A lot has gone into the story and with the third one we have Karen Traviss at the writing helm. If you do not know this SCI FI writer, she has penned the Gears novels. So what do you say we put on that armor and take a ride into Gears of War 3? So this is 18 months after Jacinto was flooded and any survivors are making an attempt to rebuild on the island of Vectes. All the COG have been disbanded and are located throughout the different areas. There is an increase in the Lambent on the surface which are emulsion infected mutants you face in addition to the Locust. Throughout the game you will see different Gears soldiers from previous games and you even get to play as someone other than Marcus for a change. The story follows the standard “save the world or what’s left of it” which the last two games have also used. I am still at a loss as to who decided to nickname the Lambent as “glowies”. Seems pretty weak for a game that swims in male bravado. Ω Graphically this game is top notch. I went out of my way to try and find something a miss but the graphics were spot on. Normally the graphics will tend to be better in Linear games were you cannot explore as freely as open world titles like Grand Theft Auto. The amount of polish on the campaign itself was enough to induce drooling here and there. This game is easily a contender for 2011 as best game. So don’t be surprised when the press is talking about it again non stop. You can tell the story was done by someone who knows how to write because you will care about Marcus by the final act. Anyone who tries to make me believe they did not after all was said and done will be considered full of sh*t and rightfully so. There is not a lot of twist in the story beyond what develops in the first few acts. The rest lead up to to the final goal established earlier. Nothing super insane here but you will have closure by the end of the game. The voice acting was great and fit each character perfectly as it always does in this series. If you are not into the macho crap from the last few games do not expect a change here. The generous use of profanity and violence may make some parents want to consider this before allowing your child to partake. I am pretty sure the characters dropped more F bombs than I did for once and this is pretty rare when I am gaming. The controls have not changed at all really. They are still pretty tight. I have always been annoyed when hitting the button to roll because I always seem to roll too far. It is also annoying to try and steer your character when in “roadie run” because you will have to stop the run to turn sharp. This can be an issue when you are trying to escape death. On line I just get creamed because I cannot for the damn life of me figure out how to roll 60 times and get 20 head shots with the shotgun like most. If you liked or could handle the controls in the last two titles you will be right at home here. The game play was and always has been a blast. I believe the core game play to be what keeps us coming back and everything else is “icing on the cake”. The satisfaction of a well placed bullet from the long shot is very satisfying. Personally I still find the Torque Bow to be the end all awesome in the Gears series. The metallic thwomp it makes when connecting with the target is like audio effects gold for me. I am not 100% sure why, but it does and this is my review so nah nah. You will see the branching path choices again in this one. I did not see a difference other than scenery when you choose your path. You do now have the ability to mark the enemy so the squad concentrates fire as needed. I completed the campaign on normal and felt at times dying was hard to do. You always had an A.I. teammate near to pick you up before you could be finished off. I tried my damnedest to die in the last big fight to test this but someone always revived me. Maybe I should have went for a harder mode. I did notice teammates stuck in objects a time or two. I also found it annoying that they dropped in at the next checkpoint when we were all just running together seconds ago. This is no way took away from the intense fun that this campaign was. The audio was spot on. I cannot think of a time I felt it was lacking. Things always progressed and you could tell the battles were coming with the various audio cues. The audio across the whole series has been excellent. It has always been a great score from front to back. The guns all sounded realistic or as realistic as we would expect a gun to sound that fires via a satellite like the Hammer of Dawn. Interaction with items and others sounded completely authentic and natural. The sound will not leave you feeling flat especially if you are using a surround sound system. Multi player in this series has always been a mixed bag for me. I really enjoy it but suck most days unless I am on a team. Once again the land of rollin’ and shotgunin’ kicked my ass. All the standard modes are here again death match team DM, wingman (2 man teams) and the others. I really enjoyed the beefed up Horde mode which now played out like a Gears themed match of tower defense. Allowing you to purchase and unlock various weapons and defenses will definitely add to the replay value and have Gears fans playing for many moons to come. I found the new mode called Beast to be a blast. This new mode is Horde from the Locust/Lambent perspective. You have different classes to choose from. Depending on your rank and performance you will unlock better characters to use with different abilities. This mode clocked in at about 30 minutes and 12 levels which seemed quite short when compared to Horde. Getting into matches over all did take sometime. I cannot think of one match I joined that took less than 3 minutes to get into. I did see a lot of lost connection issues initially but now the servers seem to be good. Lag did not seem to be an issue at least not nearly as much as getting into matches was. Overall I have to hand it to Cliffy B. and the boys because this final installment delivered as promised on every front. If you only own a PS3 you will be missing out on one of the top 5 games of 2011. Yes there was no great innovation here but why have any when the core of this series just works so damn well. A few hiccups with on-line and some odd things happening in the campaign do little to mar what will go down in history as a great finish to an already excellent series.

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I am a writer/reviewer for the lovely and I love Horror, video games and coffee. Currently I spend my days hunting sparkly vampires.

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