|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Epic Games|
|Release: September 20, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Tony Capri
The Epic gears are turning once again, as Marcus, Dom, and the rest of the crew ready their weapons of destruction for the final chapter in this larger-than-life action saga. The game doesn't release for the better part of a year, but we're already excited by what we've seen.
Gears of War 3 will wrap up on the planet Sera, and though little has yet been revealed about the actual plot, the game's design director, Clifford Bleszinski, has hinted that fans can expect the veil to be lifted on many unanswered plot points.
Bleszinski was on-hand at this most recent E3 to show off parts of the game, with various multiplayer modes being the focus of Epic's presentation. Surprisingly, the mechanics and design of the demo were already extremely polished and enjoyable, so we surmise the bulk of the development team's time, from now until April, will be dedicated to crafting the story mode and tweaking and balancing the gameplay. As with the past two entries in the series, Gears 3 appears to be a massive undertaking, and Epic certainly seems to be taking their time with it.
One of the biggest new features of the third installment is four-player cooperative play for the story mode. Other games have tried it, but few have delivered a truly engaging experience. With Epic's track record, however, we're inclined to believe the package is already signed, sealed, and delivered. It's more Left 4 Dead than Monster Hunter, and teams will have to pay close attention to everything that's happening on the battlefield.
Since the game will be set up in a way that requires player 1 to control Marcus, player 2 to control Dom, etc., folks can expect quite a number of gameplay variables depending upon how many human players they have on their team. If Epic manages to piece together a compelling story, Gears of War 3 could offer some serious replay value.
For the first time ever, fans can play as one of at least two female characters, as well as a roster of other fan favorites. Anya Stroud and Jace Stratton have both been confirmed as playable in the game, and additional characters may be on the way as well. The enemy has also added a few new baddies to its ranks, and they're no mere throwaway creeps.
Shown during Microsoft's E3 press conference was one especially tough looking mama called the Lambent Berzerker. Able to withstand a direct hit from the Hammer of Dawn, these creatures spawn out of Lambent Stalks. Like the Locust Berzerkers, they charge recklessly at their target, but their great strength, along with tentacles, make them one of the most formidable foes the series has ever seen.
With or without the plot, the series has been steadily evolving to become a viable multiplayer option, with the Horde mode in Gears 2 being a fairly big hit with fans. For Gears 3, the developers are taking that idea and turning it on its head with something called Beast mode. Rather than taking on the role of a COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) soldier, players get to fill the shoes of the Locust Horde.
Similar to the accelerated RPG elements of DotA (Defense of the Ancients), the Beast mode in Gears 3 will reward players for their skill in battle. As your kill count racks up, you'll earn tokens you can use to upgrade your character class. Classes range from suicidal Tickers, to brawny brutes like the Mauler. Getting at the real badasses doesn't come cheap, though, and there's a limited number of class types available during a given play session. Similar to Horde mode, players will take on waves of human A.I., with an emphasis on working together in order to stay alive.
Gears of War 3 will unfold during the summer season of Sera, so the look of the soldiers has changed. They've peeled back a few layers of armor, though we're not entirely sure how or if that will affect the actual gameplay.
The design palette, however, hasn't changed drastically, though we've noticed a bit more color and variety to the environments. Gears 3 is reported to be using the newly improved Unreal Engine 3 (or 3.5), and though the differences may be subtle, the game is still a gorgeous feast for the eyes. The audio presentation is equally impressive, and it really serves to drive home the notion that games can be every bit as epic as a summer-blockbuster movie.
So, we're psyched. The first Gears of War was a knockout, and the second installment improved upon the formula in almost every conceivable way. Epic Games seems to be working night and day to ensure that nothing of this human tale is wasted. The first glimpses of the story mode are exciting, and the new multiplayer components will probably be worth the price of admission alone. ComiCon is on the way, and the team promises a few more teases and reveals. So, stay tuned as we draw closer to Emergence Day.
CCC Freelance Writer