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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fenix Nighty Nights - a Perfect End.
Having now completed the campaign and given the multiplayer a good seeing to, I can confidently say that this is the pinnacle of the Gears trilogy.

I've never really been a Gears fanboy before but have enjoyed my time causing merry alien bloodshed with Marcus and chums. The social aspects of the game, such as co-op campaigns, Multiplayer and Horde, were what I...
Published on 20 Sep 2011 by Thundermentalist (PSN) Stophar...

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars That's Enough Of That
I like the Gears of War Franchise but they aren't without their flaws. The solo campaign is enjoyable enough but most of what's wrong with Gears of War 3 is the multiplayer mode, which is so unbalanced that even if your a proficient player your weapon efficiency and movement speed can be reduced to nothing if those joining the game have a poor connection speed...
Published 1 month ago by StygianJack


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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fenix Nighty Nights - a Perfect End., 20 Sep 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Having now completed the campaign and given the multiplayer a good seeing to, I can confidently say that this is the pinnacle of the Gears trilogy.

I've never really been a Gears fanboy before but have enjoyed my time causing merry alien bloodshed with Marcus and chums. The social aspects of the game, such as co-op campaigns, Multiplayer and Horde, were what I really enjoyed. These have always been well executed and demonstrate why Gears is such a popular MP experience. I was hoping that Gears 3 could match the polish of its predecessor and it delivers in spades.

It took me around 10 hours to complete the campaign on normal and about the same again with a group of mates in Hardcore setting. The campaign plot shines through. The mixture of pace throughout levels is well judged and shows that the Gears' creators have begun to feel increasingly comfortable in having a nice balance of slower paced sections in amongst the frenzy of war. I was really impressed with the focus on storytelling and the noticeable efforts to really tie up a lot of the series' plotlines. As a miserable old cynic I was genuinely touched by a few moments in the story and thought that sentimentality was treated with real reverence. That's not to say that the gruff humour of the previous games is somewhat lacking; it's evident throughout but there is always the underlying thought that this is the end of things, one way or the other.

Lots of old faces return and none of these appearances feel shoe-horned into the plot. The cast get their chance to shine and do their thing for the COGS. Not only does give us some of the standout and most touching scenes of the Gears trilogy, but it also offers us some stunning individual levels. For me, a siege level encountered half way through the game encapsulates what is best about this series; a sense of urgency; the wide range of useful weapons available; the feeling that you are fighting overwhelming numbers; the importance of teamwork and the bond that exists between the soldiers. The AI in the game is superb, both on your side and with regards to the enemy. In most battles, modifying your attack approaches will reap rewards. It's this AI that really makes Gears 3 such a pleasure to play. The increased range of enemies adds real breadth and longevity to the game as you discover new strategies to deal with them. The scale and magnitude of some of them are a thing of gaming wonder. An arcade mode of the campaign is available which allows you to get one over on your friends by besting their score. Stealing kills has never felt so good.

As for the Multiplayer, Horde returns improved and more nuanced than previously. Not only do your motley crew have to fight off ever-improving groups of enemies, but now elements of castle-defence games have been thrown into the mix. What this means is that as you accumulate kills, you receive funds that can be used to help kit you out with better defences and equipment. This adds a further layer, to what is already an outstanding game mode.

Beast mode is new to Gears 3 and is similar to Horde. In this mode you play as an attacking group of Locust troops, striving to wipe out a group of humans. The better you do, the more experience you will have to spend on characters. The more experience you gain, the more characters become available. The best praise I can give is that this works as well as Horde, which is high praise indeed. The only improvement would be for rounds to be longer, but that aside I can see this game type eating up a lot of social gaming hours.

The rest of the Multiplayer options build on the successes of the previous Gears games and add range and content. They work brilliantly and offer a range of excellent game modes.

It's a fine game. As a package, it offers hours of entertainment. The love that the developers have for their franchise is obvious through all the little extras that exhibit the game, but also with the level of detail evident throughout, It's a near-perfect ending to the trilogy. I cared little for the story before but the writers really engaged me throughout and I found myself being drawn into a game that i thought would be just another polished run and gun experience. The co-op experiences I've had so far have been great and I haven't suffered any lag at all.

Having said all that, there is one small scene involving a character named 'The Cole Train', which has to go down as one of the most painful, cringe-inducing moments in gaming history. The fact that I didn't then will Cole to die painfully is perhaps testament to the excellence of the plot and gameplay.

Gears 3 is the best of the trilogy and for value for money, possibly only The Orange Box comes close. You will get many hours gaming pleasure from this. Whilst I was dubious that Gears 3 would live up to its huge hype, I'm happy to report that it's better than I could have expected.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars United until the end, 17 Sep 2014
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
STORY
Eighteen months have passed since the sinking of the Jacinto plateau, the last major city of the planet Sera since the appearance of the Locust. The remaining human survivors have moved to the island of Vectes to rebuild. The imulsion infected Lambent have also begun to emerge from underground. Marcus and his Delta squad haven’t just got the Lambent standing
between them,but also the Locust Queen, Myrrah.

GOW3 is about brotherhood, sacrifice and desperation. Epic Games have shifted the story away from Marcus, allowing us to see the despair and emotional challenges that other characters face. Was I completely satisfied with how things ended? No, there were still unanswered questions, which I undoubtedly expected clarification upon, but I guess ambiguity gets the theories raging amongst gamers.

GRAPHICS & SOUND
Gone are the dull shades of brown and grey from the previous game, now saying hello to sun-baked beiges, perky jungle greens and Lambent gooey yellows. The outdoor environments are stunning; the island of Vectes sprouts with lush jungle scenery and sun soaked vistas. The secret base of Azura is another visual delight, showcasing intricate architecture and classical decor. The lighting engine is on another level here, cascading over objects quite beautifully to render very impressive real-time shadowing.

Level design remains a linear trait, there are chances to flank enemies, but these options are very rare throughout the campaign. Character models are thick and detailed, a special mention must go to Carmine’s design, and the words ‘Grub Killer‘ have been deliciously graffitied onto his armour. The Lambent designs are grotesque, ranging from the sprouting storks, to the freaky exploding foot soldiers. The animations are as smooth as ever, Marcus moves along cover swiftly, allowing for greater precision when ducking in and out of shooting positions. The opening sequence with the Leviathan attacking Delta squad's ship is breathtaking in motion, the way that giant beast flings its tentacles about looks very natural.

However, there are numerous issues with clipping, especially when your character nears wall/large object, the equipped weapon will go through that surface as it it wasn’t there. Surprisingly, the cutscenes tend to suffer from frame rate issues, occasionally stuttering and jerking through the playback.

GAMEPLAY
The shooting mechanics are much tighter; I felt greater recoil shouting out from the weapons. The
cover system has been tweaked and feels far more intuitive, it works seamlessly to move you around any environment with ease and solidarity. The ‘roady’ run has seen a big improvement, which feels more responsive and easier to control when instantly shifting directions. Active reloading is still a mini adrenaline rush of its own. The Lambent forces use giant storks that shoot out from Sera’s surface, unloading the drones from pulsating yellow pods. What makes this tricky is that you need to shoot the pods and stop the storks from releasing more Lambent drones, which will render the storks inactive and help you concentrate on any enemies in the vicinity. The Lambent can also shift their forms, which can allow them sprout huge tentacles and fire deadly shots of imulsion towards you, taking cover only does so much, so it’s best to shoot their tentacles and put them down for good.

There are some minor changes to the Locust enemy line-up, though you’ll easily recognise a majority of creature types and find no trouble in putting a few bullets in their backsides. The baby corpsers will definitely have you running around like a headless chicken, these guys aren’t as nasty as their mothers, but their ability to dig underground and attack from random positions will keep you on edge. There aren’t a whole host of new weapons to rave about, although-the one-shot, digger and the retro lancer are excellent additions The digger is extremely fun to use, which releases an explosive underground and burrows towards its target until detonation. Just when you think that pesky Locust is safe behind cover, launch a digger explosive and watch his guts fly in every direction The retro lancer’s greatest asset is its huge bayonet, which can be used to impale enemies and throw their lifeless corpses to the ground.

GOW throws in the ‘Silverback’ mech suits, which allows any of the beefy COG boys (or slender girls) to hop in and send any enemy to gatling gun hell. The Silverback suits are very rare to come across, but when there is one available then do not hesitate to put it to use. GOW 3 employs a new strategy when it comes to squad A.l., which is the ability to be revived by your teammates. The Locust and Lambent have very impressive A.l., never wanting to hold back and finding ways of attacking in numbers. I was very impressed with how the Locust used grappling hooks in order to ascend to heights. It’s not just all shoot the alien stuff though, there are some neat on-rails sequences to enjoy, to further satisfy your cravings of COG-induced destruction.

Though the on-rails shooting sequences were fun, they weren’t exactly creative, nor did they do enough to amplify the experience any further. As impressive as the Lambent were in design and presence, I never found them to be much of a threat and it felt as if they had taken a backseat throughout the campaign.

OVERALL
It’s sad to see the trilogy come to an end, but Epic Games have done it the utmost justice. The story is deeper, but it leaves a few questions unanswered. The graphics are stunning, it everything is beautifully realised and completely overhauls the colour palette of the previous games. The gameplay is exciting, brimming with visceral action and it’s ridiculously absorbing from beginning to end.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Trilogy, 20 Sep 2011
By 
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
I got the Epic version of Gears of War 3 this morning and I've been playing the campaign since, along with some Horde and a Beast mode match. So far, its the best game I've ever played.

The campaign is brilliant, the story has been progressing very nicely with some unforeseen plot twists, great voice acting and facial animation techniques, and a strong plot that I cannot wait to see the end of. So far I am at Act 3 Chapter III "Ghost Town" and the last two levels were absolutely bloody fantastic. Can't wait to see how it ends, and I have a strong feeling the next few levels will be among the best in the entire series.

Horde most has been very much improved. The enemies are mixed and matched with Locust and Lambent coming in together, and the new fortification features and cash are very nice additions to a trailblazing game mode. Gears of War 2 first had the Horde mode, and now many other games follow suit and add their own version of Horde. And with plenty of new variants of enemies in Horde like Corpsers, Brumaks, Berserkers (Lambent Zerkers too), and the Savage Locust it only adds further to the mode, and makes each stage a thrill to play through.

Beast mode is already as good as Horde mode and offers the chance to really play as the Locust, not just wear their skin in multiplayer. Boomers, Tickers, Wretches, Kantus and even the Berserker are all playable in Beast mode when you go up against the Stranded and the COG. Its a bit short at only twelve stages but when played on a higher difficulty it can be a hell of a challenge to get through the whole game. And of course getting a Berserker and charging right into the COG is one of the best things of the entire mode.

I think that GoW 3 will likely be Game of the Year for 2011, and I thank Epic Games for the incredible series they have given us in Gears of War. But thankfully the series isn't done yet, as Gears of War: Exile has been confirmed. Nobody knows what it is but we'll find out eventually.

Until then I am far from done with Gears 3, more of the campaign awaits tonight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crammed With Gaming Goodness, 17 April 2012
By 
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
The law of diminishing returns suggests that the more we have of something, the less the impact it will have on us. Therefore, by the time the third game in a series comes along we should all be jaded with the franchise and crave something new. Is this the case with `Gears of War 3', one of the few remaining Xbox 360 exclusives that doesn't require you to wave your arms around like a man who just stood on a hornet's nest? Can we have too much bromance, gratuitous swearing and ultra-violence? If `Gears 2' cranked the first game up to 11, then `Gears of War 3' cranks it up to at least 12 and gives you such an inclusive package that you can't do anything but marvel at the quality and value.

At the core of `Gears of War 3' is the campaign - this time 4 player co-op. An excellent and well-polished action game it clocks in at around 10 hours. Not only can you play the game straight with 3 friends, but you can also play arcade mode that tots up a points score for each kill. This makes the second run through the game even more fun as you compete in healthy competitive co-op. The arcade mode is extra value for money on an already stellar campaign, with lush graphics and great voice acting, but the quantity does not stop there.

There is also the multiplayer modes; versus, horde and beast. Each is easily another 20 hours of gameplay - the 5 on 5 fighting for some or the two alternative co-op modes where you fight as the humans or the locust. The horde mode has been advanced since the last game to allow you to build defences up between waves, this simple mechanic lifts it to another level.

All in all, `Gears of War 3' may not provide anything particularly new when compared to the previous games in the series, but what it does bring is more of it and better. You cannot deny that you are getting so much for you money that `Gears 3' has to be one of the best gaming investments this generation.

Sammy Recommendation
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blown away, 4 Oct 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Just a very quick review in response to the pathetic trolls giving it 1/5.
Im not going to be a fanboy, its not perfect, hence the 4/5.
The first major point id make is DO NOT do the campaign on Normal. I dont spend hours and hours on games and Normal is usualy where i start with a campaign but ive got to admit, i DID find it quite a bit too easy. I started again on Harcore and its much better!(See trolls, a simple solution if you're finding it too easy)
The campaign is the only reason iv not given it 5/5. I was slightly disapointed in the story but really, Gears is all about the action and this is the area where it excels! I was totally blown away by the battles- the explosions rocking the screen, tracer fire everywhere.. and then i tried it online.:)
I used to enjoy Gears and Gears 2 online although there were issues with lag etc i put up with it when it happened. Gears 3 online is everthing i wanted. If i die now, it feels like it was my fault for doing something stupid(which i do often) rather than a technical issue and im killing people when i feel like i should be. I know this may sound basic stuff but i hear many people stopped playing Gears online because of technical issues and i just want to assure any of these people that its all sorted!
I think most people already know wether theyre going to like this game or not before they buy it but if you are undecided then i really would recommend it if you like your action games. Dont believe the sad, sad people giving 1/5 scores as they generally have an agenda, or are just mardy kids who know nothing but COD and hate anything that isnt.
Cheers
Rich
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3.0 out of 5 stars That's Enough Of That, 18 Nov 2014
By 
StygianJack (Kingston Upon Thames) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
I like the Gears of War Franchise but they aren't without their flaws. The solo campaign is enjoyable enough but most of what's wrong with Gears of War 3 is the multiplayer mode, which is so unbalanced that even if your a proficient player your weapon efficiency and movement speed can be reduced to nothing if those joining the game have a poor connection speed.

Sometimes, especially if you're the host, you can shoot through walls and down people with a shotgun even though you should be too far away for a shotgun to be effective. This can change in a heartbeat, even if you have a fast connection, the next thing you know you're sluggish and you're weapon is next to useless. Hence the multiplayer mode is not a level playing field, which frustrates and leads to game hoping. Gears of War 2 had similar issues but had better maps.

I'm a completest when it comes to games and collecting achievements. I did manage - eventually - to get all the achievements (including Seriously 3) but the time and repetition required to attain all the achievements was difficult and this did eventually sap my overall enjoyment of the game. Especially the ribbon collecting (healing 4 people as Kantus at once took a long time). Unfortunately, these two factors have managed to turn me off the franchise so won't be buying Gears of War Judgement.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind Blowing Non Stop Action!, 9 Oct 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Games like this represent nothing but pure fun, its constant shooting with big epic set pieces. With the RPG beginning to slowly but surely creep its way into other genres within gaming, going down the open world route and so on this kind of run and gun down what is basically corridor after corridor in its format is a dying breed. You have no choices, you have no impact on its story at all, no upgrades to to play with as you progress and you cant decide which direction to go in or how you go about completing the game. But, the name of the game here is sheer adrenaline action and scale, with which you could imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger as Marcus and Sylvester Stallone as Dom standing side by side sending thousands of rounds out of machine guns that are way to big for them to be using at oncoming monsters some the size of houses lol. This is basically, give me a gun and show me where to shoot type gameplay, which in the 3 person genre it has no peers.

Its story is nothing special in comparison the increasingly high standards being set by such games as Mass Effect and Red Dead Redemption, the script is 80s action movie cheese ball style lines which you either love or hate but the main characters simply ooze charisma. It brings a satisfactory conclusion to the plot started from Gears 1 though has many lose ends, in particular certain facts and information that wasnt ever given (DLC likely).

Its campaign can be played through by yourself or with 3 other online players, it will last around 10 hours depending on which difficulty you set it at, how good you are or who you are playing with. But, with its arcade like structure youll want to play through this game many times and in particular through online. It has the usual game modes featured in countless multiplayer games like COD, Team Deathmatch and so on with some interesting variations. With character and weapon skin unlocks, smooth gameplay and quick access to match ups its online features will keep you going for a long time if you find yourself under its charm. For me, its best online asset is Horde mode, its brilliant! Tackling wave upon wave of increasingly hard enemies, at every 10 waves you fight bosses, spawning such things as house high Brumas firing rockets and machine guns at you, while bullet near proof man sized locusts try to force you out of cover. It has another mode called beast mode, which pits you as the locust against the gears in horde like style, which, offers variety.

At times i find myself laughing during certain moments within the game, be it while im firing hundreds of rounds with my machine gun at an enemy the size of a skyscraper or being on the bad end of a mortar strike meanwhile chainsawing enemies while my fellow cogs deal with house high rocket propellin and constant machine gun firing monsters. There are countless explosions in the game, with which if you have a good quality surround sound system youll feel like your house is falling down. Larger enemies or enemies that glow explode with great sound effects and visual flair.

Graphically, the game is beautiful. Nothing groundbreaking but clean and crisp with a silky smooth frame rate. If you like OTT action movies, typically like that of Stallone for example then youll simply love this. Its very much just more of the same though, its gears 1 and 2, but, BIGGER and BETTER in every way. This is the type of game you wanna play after a hard days work/school, its fun, its simple and doesnt tax your mind or your emotions in any way, its just fills you with adrenline charged pulsating action that never ever stops coming. Its not game of the year, but, its one of the games this year that you have to have on your game rack if you even mildly adore shooting things non stop.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game of the Year contender!, 21 Sep 2011
By 
M. Farley - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
As there is already an extensive review of the single player, I thought I would concentrate on the Multi-player.
The Multi-player is broken down into, versus, Horde, and the new Beast mode (the campaign can also be done co-op online but as that has already been covered I shall concentrate of the other modes here)

Versus - This is broken up into 6 game types; Team Deathmatch, here each team has a total of 15 respawns, once there gone the match ends and the team left standing wins, this in my opinion is a great spin on normal deathmatch and has been the focus of my time during the beta and now on the full release; next mode is Warzone which will be familiar to all previous players of Gears, 5 v 5 team deathmatch, but when you are dead that's it, your out until the next round, first team to 3 round wins, wins the game; Execution is similar except the only way to kill an opponent is a direct kill, i.e Headshot, grenade kill or by performing one of the many amazing executions; Capture the Leader is basically capture the flag except the flag in this case is one of the opposing team who you must first down and then capture for 30 seconds to win the round; King of the Hill is an objective based mode where you must capture designated areas of the map and hold on them for as long as possible and finally Wingman which is 4 teams of 2 in an all out battle, first team to 15 kills across the rounds wins.
All these game modes can be played online, splitscreen or for those preferring to get some practice in first, against AI bots, the great thing is that no matter which mode
you are playing stats carry across all modes.

Horde - This is the mode we all know and love from the previous game, fight against 50 waves of ever increasing Locust. The big difference this time is that each wave you will earn money for kills which you can then spend at the end of the round on fortifications, turrets, and command posts, which brings in a real tactical edge. Whereas Horde in GOW 2 was difficult but not impossible I foresee this new version being a lot more of a challenge, having so far only reached level 17, the range of enemies has increased and with it the difficulty, every 10 waves results in a boss wave, so far on the occasions I have passed wave 9 I have faced a Corpser and a Lambent Berserker, and they took a huge effort from every one on our team to bring them down.

Finally on to the all new Beast mode which is basically Horde in reverse as you play as the Locust and must defeat the humans within the time limit given. You initially start with the lesser locust such as the ticker, drones and the wretch, but as you kill humans you gain more money and are then able to purchase the next level of locust such as the Kantus, the Mauler (the slow one with the shield) before finally unlocking the real badasses in the form of the Boomer, the Corpser, the Berserker etc.
This mode is lots of fun but sadly ends far too quickly as it is over within 12 waves, there is DLC rumoured for this mode and hope it pans out that way as it really is lots of fun.

Overall then this multiplayer is the refinement of everything Gears of War has built up across the previous games, there is far too much to cover in a review, I simply urge you to buy this game, a true contender for the game of the year and a new benchmark in 360 games, with a multiplayer that could last years and a tremendous story mode (as outlined in other reviews) this really is a masterpiece!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GEARS OF WAR 3 review, 31 Dec 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Gears of war 3 is the concluding chapter to the the critically acclaimed gears of war series and I can safely say that he gears of war 3 is a masterpiece and one of the best games of all time next to the first and second games that were both fantastic. So were do I start well first off I can say that the graphics are incredible just like the series has been known for and the lighting,colours,sound and visual effects are fantastic and are a high point for the series. The graphics are lighter and more realistic than the dark gloomy graphics of the first two and every bullet that hits the target shows the bright red colour of your enemy's blood with and a realistic feel to it. Now for the gameplay, this is another area where gears of war 3 outdoes it's predecessors by perfecting the tense strategic combat where the first twos combat were brilliant but still needed a few improvements, and gears of war 3 does exactly that by making movement faster, more weapons and making combat more balanced so you feel like you need to make every bullet count while you go through the locust horde. And finally the story, like I said earlier this is the final chapter in the trilogy and Epic Games worked very hard to clean up all the plot holes which I can gladly say that all the plot holes are sorted so no fans will come out disappointed. The story is emotionally engaging all the way through and you will wonder what will happen next in the breathtaking conclusion to the series. My final words are that Gears of war 3 is thrilling,challenging,tense,brutal and an emotional roller-coaster from start to finish and is an outright incredible game and the best in the series.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars casual multiplayer mode great for newbies, 20 Sep 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
I don't play online very often and although I'm getting better, I do tend to virtually 'die' a lot more than other players in the match.
For 'noobs' such as myself, Gears Of War 3 multiplayer includes a 'casual' option which allows inexperienced players to play against other newbies so that they can improve their skills before taking on the big boys in a regular match.
I've been playing 'casual' team deathmatch all evening and I've really enjoyed it. Since maps provide a great deal of cover, it's possible to get into extended one-on-one gunfights which are really thrilling, and which makes a change from running around wildly until you stumble into an enemy stronghold and immediately get gunned down (well, at least that's how I play COD). Each match consists of three rounds, and (presumably to get matches started quicker) if there aren't enough real people playing a match, some of the team is made up of bots which are replaced by human players (in a queue) when they die. I haven't seen this in a game before.
The map I enjoyed playing on the most is 'Sandbar', as during play a horn (?) sounds and players are engulfed in a sandstorm, reducing visibility to virtually zero [edit: I think the map with the sandstorm is actually 'Trenches')
The good thing about the casual mode is that it gives you experience of multiplayer in a relatively benign (if any setting in which you can be chainsawed, gutted, or beaten to death with your own arm can be described as 'benign') playing environment and I'm already feeling more confident about joining a 'regular' match.
Three games into the series you would assume the makers would only be making it with experienced players in mind, so credit to Epic for not forgetting about new players.

[edit]Well, after playing a number of 'casual' deathmatchs again tonight, my rank went up to 12, I received an achievement called 'Welcome To The Big League' and was then automatically 'moved up' to the regular multiplayer, so I assume that's the cut-off point.
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Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
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