When The Gears Stop Turning
Oh, Gears of War. How I hate that I love you so.
I have to admit that I had a deep hatred towards shooters for a long time. I refused to play them. I always felt they were pointless distractions that did nothing for gaming as a whole. Then, like some horrible accident, I picked up Gears of War to see what the hubbub was all about. To my surprise, not only was I good at it, but I was actually having fun—a lot of bloody violent fun—and I could not have been happier.
Gears of War singlehandedly showed me why shooters are a great way to relieve stress. This was even truer of Gears of War 2, which had a much grander story and truly embraced its over-the-top sci-fi elements. So after an amazing storyline coupled with so much action Michael Bay would wet himself, there was an insane amount of hype and anticipation surrounding the third installment in this series. Luckily, Gears of War 3 doesn’t fail to deliver on that hype and anticipation. Mostly.
I’m not going to spoil the storyline for anyone, because in all honesty I cannot express with words the sincerity, anger, wonderment, and closure that players will experience throughout. This is something that I have always felt the Gears franchise succeeds at, and it continues to do so in its third installment. But just in case you happen to be new to the Gears mythos, let me fill you in briefly. The war with the Locusts is at an end, but a new enemy has arisen to replace them. The remaining survivors are more or less just drifters looking for supplies and anything else they might need. Marcus Fenix and the rest of the Delta guys have added some new soldiers to their ranks, but they are still the go-to squad to get stuff done. (It doesn’t hurt that the stuff that needs to be done has a direct connection to Fenix to begin with.) Marcus and Delta have received a transmission claiming that Marcus’ father is still alive, which raises some serious questions, considering Adam Fenix is supposedly not among the living. Thus begins the truly layered storyline of Gears of War 3.
One particular scene that resonates strongly with me involved a specific character having a flashback during a gameplay segment. It reminds me of those films where people who’ve gone crazy are seeing things very differently than what is actually going on. This scene alone proves that a lot of thought had been given to the characters and how players would experience their sides of the story. It even serves to bring to light a deeper sense of the feelings one gets after spending such a long time at war. This is a truly classy touch.
The multiplayer is not too shabby either. Horde Mode is still just as fun as you remember. While other games have their own versions of Horde Mode, Gears of War comes in and shows why people always compare everyone else’s to Gears; it’s simply the most fun.
On the flip side of Horde Mode we have Beast Mode. Simply put, if you do not like Beast Mode you may not be human. This chaotic mode allows you to play as some of the beasts from the series, and there is one beast you eventually unlock that makes absolutely everything about this mode even better. I would dare say Beast Mode will stand out for a lot of people as their new favorite addition to Gears of War.
If you’d prefer a few rounds of something a bit more competitive, Gears of War 3 has you covered in what is aptly named Arcade. Arcade allows you to experience the same story as the campaign with up to four players, except now you are in direct competition with your friends for the high score. It’s a nice solid add-on to the campaign that squeezes a lot of extra mileage out of multiple playthroughs.
While gamers have been collecting COGs since the first game, Gears of War 3 gives you more things to collect. This actually brings some much appreciated continuity to the world, as you will find things that belong to characters you know, things that have been important to the story, and even things that may belong to the enemy.
I must say that the world of Gears of War has never felt more “alive.” In past titles, even though the world was captured fairly well for each story, environments somehow lacked a sense of true presence. In Gears of War 3, you actually get the feeling that things are happening when you are not around, that people are living and breathing even when you aren’t interacting with them.
This is apparent in the graphics and sounds of the game as well. Marcus and Delta Squad all have received a boost in appearance. There are still some trademark Gears technicalities, but without them this simply wouldn’t be a Gears game. One of the biggest things I noticed was the characters do not seem nearly as “large” as they did in the first and second game. They finally look as proportionally realistic as they could in a world like this. The voice acting is as top-notch as it’s always been, and the score this time has more of an impact than previous titles while never feeling inappropriate.
Gears of War 3 has been one of the most anticipated games of this year for good reason. Everyone wants to know how the heroes of Delta finish “their fight,” after all, and you can conclude this experience with up to three friends. I’m not delusional enough to claim there’s nothing wrong with Gears of War 3, but any flaws in this game have been present in the first two installments as well. So, honestly, if they were not in this “final” chapter, I might oddly feel upset they weren’t included for continuity’s sake.
Gears of War 3 may not give you that sense of closure you might need in order believe this is the last Gears story, but it will definitely give you a complete adrenaline rush of sheer bloody fun. Finally, the gaming season has arrived.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.6 Graphics
Visuals may be only a slight improvement over the past games, but it is because of this that the world comes alive. 4.5 Control
The controls you’ve come to know and love. Why fix what is not broken? 4.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Everything pops into place nicely. It is truly complimentary that the voice acting and score are on the same level. 4.5 Play Value
I would say this is the most fun I’ve had with Gears in years. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|