Xbox 360 Review: Gears of War 3

Rise of the Fenix?

I remember when I first saw Gears of War and how amazing it looked for a console that wasn’t even out yet, I couldn’t wait to play it but even I never knew just how big it was going to be. The sequel delivered a great follow-up to the original and improved the multiplayer aspect, as well as adding in the memorable Horde mode. So besides finishing up the trilogy, what can Gears 3 achieve? Quite a bit it seems…

The story is set 18 months after Jacinto is sunk, but the Lambent are the new threat to not just humanity, but all life on Sera. There are twists and turns, as well as a few emotional moments that would bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardcore gamer. It’s a packed story full of revelations and it’s a fitting conclusion to the story arc, I was skeptical that Epic would be able to pull it off but they’ve done just that.

The campaign is a decent length and has plenty of replay value thanks to the 4-player co-op mode, as well as competing for scores on it. There are also collectables to find as well as loads of execution moves that you need to do for an achievement. The campaign also puts you in control of characters other than Marcus and Dom, seeing the story from another perspective. It’s a nice touch that mixes things up a bit, although it’s better when the plot focuses more on Marcus.

Outside of the fantastic campaign there’s still a ton of things to do. Beast Mode puts you in the role of the Locust as you attack waves of Stranded and COG soldiers, but they’ve put up defences and you need to spend cash earned from kills and destruction to choose which Locust you want to play as. Horde returns and is the opposite of Beast Mode, you get cash to spend on weapons/ammo/defences and every 10th wave is a boss attack which can include Brumaks and plenty of other devastating enemies to wipe your crew out.

All the standard multiplayer modes return and a new one called “Capture the Leader” which is a combination of Guardian and Submission. There are also Easter eggs like completing a round on Gridlock without smashing any of the ash people, and then the next will play a haunting instrumental version of Mad World. The level system returns with a maximum of reaching Level 100, but you won’t get an achievement for just that. Seriously 3.0 requires you to earn EVERY onyx medal as well, which can mean anything from getting 6000 kills in each possible way to playing thousands of matches. It will take hundreds if not thousands of hours to do and is only for the truly dedicated.

All the old weapons return, but there are some new ones like the OneShot which will shoot through anything, even a Boomshield. The Digger will send an explosive charge under cover, jump up and detonate. You can even pick up the Cleaver that the Butcher uses, although it’s pretty useless. The enemies have also upgraded as the Lambent can mutate and some are armoured so that bullets are worthless against them.

If there’s one thing that’s undeniable, it’s that Gears 3 looks so much better than its predecessors. It’s the most stunning game I’ve seen on the 360 bar none, especially when certain Lambent explode…it’s truly a treat for the eyes. The framerate is mostly consistent and the load times are average. Voice-acting is superb with some great performances from the cast, they manage to capture the moment and the music is great too with some sombre, chilling tones that matches the desperation of the situation that they find themselves in.

The Verdict

Gears of War 3 surpasses the other games in every conceivable way. The gameplay feel slicker, the story is a truly epic conclusion to the trilogy and the multiplayer is improved to a new standard that will have us playing for hundreds of hours. Add in an improved Horde mode, 4 player co-op and Beast Mode and you have what is a real contender for Game of the Year.