Review ~ Gears of War 3 for Newcomers/New Gears
Platform ~ XBox 360
Game Developer ~ Epic Games
Genre ~ Third person shooter
ESRB ~ Mature (17+)
Campaign Played On ~ Casual and Normal
Multiplayer Level Reached ~ 21
While this review is geared (Ha! Pun intended!) towards newcomers to the Gears of War series, it’s not completely void of valuable information for Veteran Gears. I encourage you to read on!
To give you some context on my relationship with Gears prior to the release of the third installment, I didn’t have one. I hadn’t played either of the game’s predecessors, so on Tuesday, September 20th, I was a New Gear bodying and wall bouncing my way through the planet of Sera and its gun slinging, Imulsion spewing inhabitants. My understanding of the plot of the Gears series was this; the games consist of a bunch of super muscular dudes running around killing things with a gun with a chain saw on it.
Despite the lack of experience you may have with this series, Epic has designed features into the game to make your game play, at least your campaign game play, as smooth as possible. Multiplayer is a totally different animal. We’ll discuss that later on in the review.
Before beginning your new life as a Gear, I suggest catching up on what you missed from the previous games by going to Campaign, Standard, and Previously In Gears, or you can just check it out here:
The Campaign Experience:
Typical to most games, Gears 3 allows players to select the game difficulty for the campaign: Casual, Normal, Hardcore, and Insane. If you’d like to change mode mid-game, you can do this by hitting Start and Change Difficulty. Be aware you will lose any unsaved data when switching.
When beginning my campaign journey I struggled between selecting Casual and Normal. For the sake of ensuring a proper New Gear review, I tried my hand at Casual. I played on Casual for Act I and it maintained little of my interest. I felt like enemy deaths were handed to me. This was partially due to the fact that my AI teammates were slaughtering the Locusts and Lambents before I even noticed them bearing down on us. I was getting bored. Not the mindset you want when playing a new game. Once I was into Act II, I opted to switch over to Normal. While my teammates still did a good deal of the killing, the game was starting to move at a tempo I could sync with. I also went back and played Act 1 on Normal. It was much more fun the second time around.
I recommend Casual mode to gamers who are unfamiliar with shooters and people newer to gaming.
I recommend Normal mode to gamers familiar with shooters or to gamers who are confident enough in their gaming abilities to try this level.
Hardcore and Insane I haven’t tried yet, so I can’t give genuine recommendations; however, I’m assuming they’re better suited for Veteran Gears and skilled gamers.
Regardless of difficulty level, the first battle in the game is a nightmare sequence had by the game’s main protagonist, Marcus Fenix, about defending and losing his father. In this battle, the enemies don’t get anywhere close to you and you don’t take damage. This is the perfect chance to practice bodying, wall bouncing, aimming, and shooting. The more complex skills will be shown to you as the game progresses through various tips and tutorials.
If you’d like to wing it without the assistance of in game instructions, go to Start, Options, and Game to shut the tips and tutorials off. Even after turning these settings off, your teammates aid you in making suggestions on how to complete your objective(s). If you can’t remember your objective(s), failed to put two and two together from your teammate’s context clues, and are overall stuck, hold the LB button. This will list your objectives, place a silver star to locate where you need to go, and show you the positions of your teammates.
As for the quality of the story itself, it was nothing breath taking for me. I’m aware I didn’t build the same rapport with the characters as Veteran Gears, but I doubt the depth of the game would have changed for me even if I had followed the series from the beginning. The story line is predictable and while some of the dialogue is chuckle worthy at best, the majority of it is cheesy and cliche. The foreshadowing is also disgustingly blatant at points and can cheapen the end.
One part that irked me was how the story leaves you with some loose ends. In Act 4 you meet a tough business man who has it out for you. Manly commentary is exchanged, but nothing happens! You’re left with the “haunting” remark that that’s not the last you’ll be seeing of him. All I can assume is he’ll return in one of the DLCs.
The Multiplayer Experience:
You may be eager to bounce straight into multiplayer, but I would recommend honing your skills in campaign for a little while first. I played through Act 1, Chapter 3 before attempting to play against seasoned Gears. Needless to say, I was ashamed of myself that evening. I don’t want to talk about it, okay!?
Word to the wise, when first trying out multiplayer, try the co-op rounds. Campaign Arcade and Horde have been two of my favorites so far. These give you the chance to play alongside other Gears, check out their strategies, and make friends. Once you’re comfortable with those, move onto human on human slaughter in Versus, King of the Hill, etcetera.
Also know this, Veteran Gears take no prisoners! They will shoot you, chain saw you, and say horrible things about your mother. Sadly, Epic Games didn’t do much for us New Gears in the way of multiplayer, so it’s up to you to do all you can to increase your odds of survival. One bit that helped to improve my skills was doing my research on the weapons and tactics.
But it ultimately comes down to practice, having fun, and yelling horrible things right back at the Veteran Gears. When all else fails, run away.
What makes me rave about this game:
~ Much like Halo Reach, Gears 3 had a little bit of everything: gun slinging, melee executions, use of heavy, mechanical artillery, high speed chase sequences, zombies (kinda), and an unlimited supply of enemies to take down. You constantly feel like you’re getting something new and sparkly to enjoy. This keeps the game play fresh and engaging. It also adds to the, you guessed it, replay value!
~ Play the game the way you want to play it. You can either run your way through it shooting at everything that moves, or seek out the best angle and circumstances to inflict mass amounts of carnage. So long as you’re skilled in your approach, you’ll essentially get the same, gorily awesome result.
~ The perfect way to slow down in this fast paced game, get the chance to really take in and appreciate the detail of the graphics, and get a little more back story is the collectibles side quest. Specific to campaign, I’m always eager to run into the dark corners in search of COG tags, documents, and other treasures. Finding these trinkets makes you feel like you have a better understanding of Sera and her people.
What could have made my experience more awesome:
~ Multiplayer matching can be unbalanced in versus games. Early on in my multiplayer attempts, myself and two other gamers were playing a standard versus match which is really meant for ten players. When you’re short players, the game compensates by giving you AI teammates. For whatever reason the server decided to put the two highest level players on one team and pit them against the lowest level player. Needless to say, the solo lower level player was slaughtered into tomorrow. This can add to the intimidation factor for New Gears.
~ Paying $3 to $4 for one gun skin is ridiculous to me. Something like that should be an unlockable achievement, but hey, I’m cheap like that!
~ I have yet to experience the glee of decimating Gears and Stranded in Beast mode because it won’t load! From what I’ve heard, you either have to create your own match or wait a good ten minutes for it to load. I’d like to be able to hop into a Beast game within a couple of minutes like the other multiplayer games.
Who this game is for:
~ A mature audience (17 years and older)
~ Gamers who enjoy the mayhem of shooters
~ Gamers who enjoy the thrill of playing along side of, as well as against other players
Who this game isn’t for:
~ An immature audience (16 years and younger)
~ An immature audience was really it…
Cliffy B, the Design Director at Epic Games, commented in a promo with Inside XBox, “If you haven’t played Gears yet, try it now. There’s a lot of great franchises out there that I didn’t play till the third game. If you don’t like Gears, if you dismissed it before, try it this one time. You might just like it.”
Despite the lull in my first couple of hours of game play, the predictability in the plot, and some of the cheese-tastic dialogue, Gears of War 3 has been more than a blast to play. Never has a game caused me to explode out of my chair cheering on my team as we decimate our opponents. Never have I cringed so hard at being shotgunned in the face, that I gave myself a stomach ache. This is a game that does a stellar job at inspiring both competition and teamwork in its players.
In the end, I second Cliff B’s words of encouragement and invite you to try Gears of War 3. As a New COG who was hesitant to jump into this series at the last game, playing it has been a great experience. I look forward to unlocking new achievements and spending time with fellow Gears, Veteran and New alike. I hope to see you there!
On we game!