Gears of War 3, the first big game of 2011, has arrived. There was no doubt in anybodies mind that this was going to be great; the two previous installments have both been fantastic, and with the story coming to a close, this was bound to be something else. So how is Delta Squad's last adventure? It has highs, lows, revelations and lots of Locust and Lambent to fill with bullets. Marcus, Dom, Cole and Baird are joined by some newcomers to bring the best Gears of War yet. Read on to find out why...
Gears of War 3 picks up 18 months after the fall of Jacinto, and sees Marcus and Dom on board the CNV Sovereign, to avoid further Lambent attacks. It is on this ship that Marcus learns of his father's situation; he is alive. He is being held prisoner, and has a cure for the Lambent. And so begins the conclusion to the story that we've loved for many years. The gameplay is pretty much the same as previous Gears of War games, which is a good thing; don't fix what isn't broken. The fans of the series obviously love the way they play, so to change it would be a major flaw, especially at the last hurdle. There are some new additions though, which change the game for the better. The main new feature is five player co-op, which lets you and four friends get through the campaign together. It's a great feature which will definitely go down well with the gamers. There are also some new gameplay mechanics scattered throughout the campaign which break up the action very well. These include the Silverback. The Silverback is a robotic suit, capable of protecting players and destroying enemies in a variety of awesome ways. Now only does it have a machine gun, but it also has rockets, which can be used when the defence stance is activated. You can't move when in this mode, but it provides cover for your squad, and opens up the explosives. The melee attack is devastating too, and is capable of destroying multiple enemies at once. It's great fun when you get to use this, and fortunately, it isn't overused. The game is so action packed, more so than the previous installments, and there are many new enemies to see (and kill), and some very cool bosses. Five minutes into the game, you are tasked with destroying a huge monster, and the pace keeps up for the rest of the campaign.
Marcus Fenix returns for the final fight
Horde is back, which will no doubt please many people. This time, it is Horde 2.0, and is now so deep that it could be it's own game. In Gears of War 2, it was a simple case of killing the waves of enemies. Now, you earn money. You can spend the money on weapons, ammo and grenades, but the majority of your funds should go towards the new fortifications. As the game begins, you must choose one of four command centres, around which you can start to build fortifications. Starting with basic barricades, you must protect your command centre, and slow down the horde. Eventually, you will be able to build decoys, turrets and even Silverbacks. To unlock the more advanced fortifications and upgrades, you must spend a certain amount of money on each previous fortification, as a way of levelling them up. Laying down some spikes can slow down your enemies dramatically, buying you precious time. It's very easy to get lose in Horde 2.0, and spend hours upon hours building your base. Out of all the improvements that Gears of War 3 has, Horde is the one that stands out the most.
A new mode, which was highly anticipated, is Beast. Beast is the exact opposite of Horde. Now you can play as a variety of Locust creatures, and it's a lot of fun. Just like Horde, you start off with a budget, which gives you access to some basic Locust creatures. Get enough kills, and you'll unlock some of the more advanced ones, and eventually you will be able to control a Berserker. It's a great mode with a difference, and with a five player strong team, you'll be taking down the COG and stranded in no time. The main flaw with Beast mode is that you can only play as the Locust online. If you could have ten players, with five on Locust duty and five playing as the humans, you would have an amazing mode, and it would definitely provide the most fun.
The Locust are uglier than ever, and now you can control them
The online multiplayer is back, and brings the same 5-V-5 games that fans of the series are used to. There are six modes available, and are varied enough to keep everyone interested. The first is Team Deathmatch, which needs no introduction. Secondly, there is Warzone, which is the same as Team Deathmatch but with no respawns, just one life per round. Capture the Leader sees you hunting down a specific player, to hold them hostage for a certain amount of time. At the same time though, you must defend your team's leader from similar attacks. Execution means that kills are only possible through one of the many execution moves. No shooting from the distance, this will only knock them down for a short while. To win this mode, you need to be up close and personal with your lancer. King of the Hill is one of the old favourites, and requires each team to hold a certain point on the map until it changes location. Finally we have Wingman, which has four teams of two players battling it out. Teamwork really is vital in this mode, as it's easy to find yourself separated and outnumbered. Even though it isn't too dissimilar to the previous iterations, it seems like a better online experience. Each mode has it's own pros and cons, but overall, the online modes are great fun and add so much life on to the game.
Gears of War 3 had to be amazing. All of the loose ends from the previous games had to be tied up, with a conclusion worth waiting for. And all that Epic set out to do with Gears of War, they have done beautifully. The story is the most human and emotional yet, and the slightly obnoxious, emotionless meat-heads from the original Gears of War are at times reduced to quivering wrecks in this fitting end to the trilogy. Fans of the series have no reason to complain, and with a wider appeal, there is a good chance that a whole new fanbase will appear. It's doubtful that this is the last we'll see of the Gears universe, but if it is (fingers crossed), Gears of War 3 is a perfect end. Epic, well done.
by Louis Gardner