What a way to end one of the most epic game franchises!,
This review is from: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)Nearly five years after first being introduced to Delta Squad, back in 2006, we finally have the third and final part of the story that began in GEARS OF WAR, and it has certainly been worth the wait!
The campaign has all four of the Squad members that you're used to, as well as some others, and the gameplay still works pretty much the same as before, although, as in Gears 2, you can opt for an alternative to the controls used in the first game if you like.
The weapons that you saw in Gears 2 are here, and there are some new ones thrown in. Well, some are new, while others are variations on existing ones. As well as the Lancer assault rifle and the Gnasher shotgun that you're familiar with, there are two new versions of these weapons: the Retro Lancer, which has a bladed bayonet instead of a chainsaw, and firepower with more kick but also has more recoil and you actually charge at your opponents and build up a speed meter to impale them on the bayonet; and the Sawed-off Shotgun, which is double-barrelled and more powerful but actually MUST be used at close range or it will not damage your opponent at all, and it also takes quite a while to reload. As well as the Longshot sniper rifle, there is also a sighted heavy gun known as the OneShot, which fires a beam at something and is incredibly powerful (I even managed to kill a Brumak with ONE HIT using it on one occasion, it's that powerful); as with the Longshot, you have to reload after every shot and, being a heavy weapon, you can't run while carrying it (same goes for the Mulcher and Mortar, both of which make their return after their first appearances in Gears 2).
The new weapons include Incendiary Grenades (explode in a pool of fire that even harms you and your team if they get caught in the blast) and the Digger (this fires an explosive shell that burrows under the ground before surfacing and exploding at the feet of your foe -- if they don't get out of the way quickly enough, that is).
One big change is that, unlike the two previous games, where only two people could play through the campaign simultaneously, this has now been increased to four (although this can only be done over a network or XBox Live -- split-screen multiplayer is still restricted to two).
The campaign is as epic as you would have come to expect from the Gears universe, and it really doesn't disappoint, save for some iffy acting by John DiMaggio (who has voiced Marcus Fenix throughout the series' run). You still have the hidden items to find (COG tags and other things), and you still have the four difficulty settings. However, on Insane, you cannot get downed -- anything that would have downed you and caused you to bleed out in the lower three difficulty settings automatically kills you this time around, making this difficulty setting particularly punishing!
Multiplayer modes from Gears 2 are here, although now we also have a Team Deathmatch, which does have respawns, albeit a limited number. The maps are pretty good, too, and it's still quite a challenge.
Horde mode, where you were a COG member and fought wave after wave of Locust that became increasingly tougher, is back, and you can still have up to five people in such a game online and two on the same console. However, this time you gain money and use this to set up fortifications (including spikes that slow down your enemies, turret guns and sentry guns), or buy weapons. Every few waves you are set a challenge where you can get a cash bonus and some weapon boxes that contain surprises if you successfully complete the tasks set (such as killing a certain number of enemies with either bayonet, be it the Lancer chainsaw bayonet or the Retro Lancer's bladed one; killing a certain number of enemies with headshots or completing the wave within a specific time limit).
The biggest multiplayer addition, however, is Beast, which is like Horde in reverse, where you play as the Locust and kill a group of humans within a (very tight) time-limit -- you get more time if one of your team kills a human, and you can also gain valuable seconds by destroying their fortifications, turrets etc. Yes, you read that correctly -- you can actually BE a Ticker, Wretch, Savage Drone, Boomer, Kantus etc., and even the mighty Berserker from the first game makes a reappearance. As with Horde, you try and ramp up enough kills to raise enough cash to be a particular Locust member, and you are given the controls as you highlight one of the available choices (Savage Drone controls just like a COG member), bearing in mind that the more powerful Locust members require you to get enough kills to raise a meter high enough to unlock them -- and the more powerful ones are understandably more expensive than the likes of Tickers and Wretches! The only real gripe I have with this is that I am pretty convinced that it is actually impossible to get very far if you are playing Beast by yourself -- you only get one minute and getting enough kills to complete the level when you don't have anyone else helping you seems like a big ask.
My only other real niggles with Gears 3 are (a) the AI of your CPU-controlled team-mates is pretty rubbish, which can be a big problem if you're playing on Insane difficulty by yourself, and they quite often get in the way; and (b) particularly in Multiplayer, unless you can somehow get used to the alternative control system, you may still have the same problem as before where having so many actions done by one button becomes frustrating (such as trying to revive a downed squadmate but instead picking up a gun that just happened to be lying on the floor right next to them, or trying to Roadie Run but instead taking cover when you didn't particularly want to).
But Gears 3 is a satisfying conclusion to this franchise (or, at least, this particular arc), and if you liked its two predecessors then you will undoubtedly get a lot of enjoyment out of this one.