Gears Of War 3 Reviewed

An epic finale to the Gears of War franchise

It has been 2 years since the climactic ending of Gears of War 2, series protagonist Marcus Fenix and the remnants of the COG soldiers who survived now eke out a brutal existence aboard hulking sea barges. Their situation has been made even worst with the emergence of an infection, called The Lambent, a “zombiefied” version of living creatures that have been mutated by Imulsion (which is THE source of energy on Sera). Not only do these enemies have the ability to mutate on the fly and force the player to be adapt or be quickly reduced to charred remains. A hulking Lambert brute could transform into and staunch wall spitting out a barrage of fire and death, forcing the player to drastically change tactics in order to survive.

While this game is about closure, the game also touches on the psychological effect of the war on the individual soldiers, and the story spends just enough time focusing on the ways that some of the different characters are like in order to make them feel more human, than the steroid jacked Jarheads that we’ve come to know. Along the campaign, you would even get to relive the Augustus Cole’s glory days as a Trashball star. The cardboard cut-out of him in his Trashball outfit, his flashbacks to his glory days really fleshes out his character into someone whom we could love and related to, as compared to the screaming and hollering “Cole Train” in the previous Gears games. In this game, he is just Augustus Cole.

The Lambent has become so rampant that even the Locust was driven on to the surface. The plot gets rolling after the arrival of the former COG leader, Chairman Prescott, who tells Marcus that his father is alive and is being taken captive by the Locust and he has a solution to the Lambent “problem”. In short, Marcus rallies Delta Squad and venture into the hostile landscape of Sera for one last campaign to rescue Fenix Senior.

You can play through the five acts of the Gears campaign in a few different ways. The Co-Op modes allow you and 3 more friends to fight through the campaign as the different members of Delta Squad in both Offline and Online, and there’s a new arcade mode that enables score tracking which adds a slight competitive aspect to the standard campaign as players are scored on kills, revivals and assist etc. A standard point multiplier would fill, giving you the opportunity to rake up high scores, but if one of your teammates bites the dust, that meter quickly begins to drain, giving you a real reason to keep your team back up and running. You can also enable mutators which are somewhat like the Gears version of Halo’s Skulls. Some make life more difficult but rewards you with extra experience points, i.e there is one that forces you to nail an active reload every single time while others makes the game easier but drastically reduces the XP received i.e there is a mutator that enables Infinite Ammo. Others are just there for the heck of it, i.e one that adds a laugh track to the game. They all sound interesting, but only the hardest of the hardcore would be able to unlock them all, which is pretty unfortunate.

Horde mode makes a return to the Gears Series. Once again, players would be pitted against 50 waves of progressively difficult adversaries. However the new twist in Gears 3 is that a “boss” battle would occur after every 10 waves, which can range from a Lambent Infected Berserker to a hulking Brumak. Cash is being awarded for kills, assists and team revivals. Players can then spend their hard-earned cash on static defences and fortifications such as remote canons and gun turrets. They can also pool the cash they earned thus far to acquire something with a bit more kick, like the fairly pricey SliverBack mech. Every alternate wave would come with an objective such as scoring a set number of kills with your chainsaw bayonet, accomplishment of these optional objectives would be rewarded with additional ammo and weapon drops.

The new Beast mode which is one of the most unique twist in the Gears series, it is basically an inverted Horde mode. It’s another five-player co-op mode, but You are playing as the Locust Horde attempting to kill COG soldiers barricaded on the multiplayer maps. It’s a class based system which requires you to spend the money you get for each round to spawn as different Horde types. Tickers are the best at blasting through obstacles and fortifications that has been slowing your team down , so it’s best to use them to blow a hole in the COG’s defensive lines before moving in with bloodmounts, boomers, Grinders, and other heavy Locust units. The catch of this mode is that there is a 60 second timer which you would have to kill every COG soldier within it. Everything you attack adds a second or two to the clock.

Visually, Gears of War 3 is a huge step up from its predecessor. The campaign takes you across several different locales which are diverse in style and architecture, and you’ll see some great weather and lighting effects along the way. You would see one of the biggest explosions from downed Lambent creatures, which blows up in a satisfying fountain of yellow luminous goo when you finally take them down. That said, the frame rate issue from the previous gears games has not been fixed and occasional slowdowns still occur especially during large open battles with multiple enemies onscreen.

If Gears Of War 3 is the final swansong of this beloved franchise, Epic can rest easy in knowing that this game has reached its’ maximum potential and it really is one of this year’s essential titles.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

by Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2011, All Rights Reserved.
Gears of War 3 is developed by EPIC Games and published by Microsoft Studios for the XBOX.

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