The Rolling Stones of X360
If Halo is to Xbox what the Beatles are to music, then the Gears of War series is The Rolling Stones. Debuting in 2006, Gears quickly became one of the top games in the 360’s year old-library. With awe-inspiring graphics, fun cover based gameplay, and a great co-op and multiplayer suite Gears proved that the Xbox had more going for it than Halo. Gears of War 2, released two years later, continued the story and somehow looked even better, but ran into networking problems that severely hurt the game’s chances in competing with new entries in the Halo and Call of Duty series. Still, the addition of Horde mode, where four friends team up to fight wave after wave of enemies was so popular it spawned several imitators, and Epic Studios, the developer behind the series, did eventually resolve the online issues. So, with Gears of War 3 upon us, does the climax of the trilogy go out with the bang expected for such a visceral series, or does it whimper off stage?
The Gears series is a prime example of cover-based third-person shooting, and not much has changed in that regard. The controls are much the same, which is to say they are tight and work perfectly. Cover is just as important in the third game as before, so mastery of both the use of cover and moving between it separates the winners and losers. If previous games did not sell you, there is nothing new here that will change your mind. There are the typical sequel additions, like a few new enemies (and a few variations on old favourites that are both inventive and devilishly fiendish) along with new weapons.
A retro version of the iconic Lancer rifle replaces the chainsaw bayonet with a more typical knife, and a sawed-off shotgun that only holds one shot but is absolutely deadly in close quarters will receive the most attention. While they may not meet the iconic level of the traditional Lancer, the Digger, a heavy weapon that shoots a burrowing projectile that is perfect for getting to enemies behind cover, is probably the most interesting new addition. The Hammerburst, the starting weapon often overlooked for the, admittedly more awesome Lancer, now has iron sights, a first for the series that makes it lethal in mid range skirmishes and perfect for picking exposed body parts.
Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera, where humanity is fighting a war of survival against the Locust Horde, a group of subterranean dwellers who arose on the historic Emergence Day and wiped out a large amount of the human population. Released from a military prison after abandoning his duty to save his father (resulting in a crushing human defeat), series protagonist Marcus Fenix quickly becomes one of the few barriers between humanity and genocide. In Gears of War 2 it is revealed that the Locust came to the surface to avoid the Lambent, an group of Locust who have been infected by the natural resource Immulsion. Gears of War 3 takes place two years after the events of the first game, with the COG dissolved, with both the Locust and humanity on its last legs against the Lambent threat.
Highly polished campaign, good story, quick and fun multiplayer, ridiculously fun Horde and Beast Modes, all in co-op.
Story drags after Act 3.