The Gears of War franchise has reached the end of its journey as Epic Games releases Gears of War 3 for the Xbox 360. There's no doubt that Gears of War is one of the huge names this generation and the guys at Epic have done a great job in making sure that this final installment lives up to all that. Delivering a campaign that not only brings a satisfying end to the Gears of War story, but improving it as well by making it 4-player compatible. All the multiplayer aspects have been improved also, making a package that any Gears fan should not hesitate to jump on.
Gears of War 3 takes place 18 months after the conclusion of Gears of War 2 and it shows. The world still looks destroyed, but you also see how the ongoing Locust war has made its toll on the characters involved and the rest of the world too. Fans that are into the Gears fiction will no doubt be engaged in the campaign from start to end. I had a great time with the campaign and when it was all over I was quite satisfied with how things ended.
The campaign will take you several hours to play through, and you can now jump into the story with up to three other players. There are various difficulties to tackle once again, and having a full party of four players will surely help make the challenge a little easier. You'll encounter many firefights and team work will be key in ensuring your progression. Also new in Gears of War 3 is an Arcade mode that adds in a bit of competition flair to the campaign. You still play through the campaign normally, but will now be scored on how well you perform. You can also add in mutators which will change up the gameplay. From things like infinite ammo or no ammo stashes. It also encourages team work, in terms of keeping everyone alive, which will help in earning you a higher score. It's a neat way to play though the campaign, especially with other competitive players.
Other than the engaging campaign mode, the multiplayer focused modes are what always brought players back to Gears of War and this latest installment keeps that portion well intact, and brings in a couple of new additions that keep the fun going. There's the popular Horde Mode, where you defend yourself from multiple enemy waves. New in Gears of War 3 is the ability to build fortifications throughout the stage that will help you better defend yourself from the increasingly difficult waves. After each round you'll earn money for how you performed and these will be used to buy and upgrade your fortress, like setting up barriers that will slow down and damage enemies. Fortifying other areas of the map will open more ways to defend. Currency will also be used to buy more ammo or other weapons.
There's also the new Beast Mode, which is like a reversal of roles from Horde Mode. In Beast Mode you assume control of Locust units on the attack against the defending humans. There's a currency system available here as well, and you'll be spending money on which Locust unit you'll want to control. You're on a short time limit, but time increases each time you take out a human or destroy any fortifications that are put up. As you progress, you'll gain new unit types to purchase that will prove more useful in the later waves. This mode was a joy to play through, especially since it gave you the opportunity to control various Locust types, from the smaller enemies like Tickers, to the much bigger ones like the Beserkers.
Rounding out the multiplayer is, of course, the competitive multiplayer mode where you test your skills against other Gears players. Modes from Gears of War 2 make a return for you to play through in the new Gears of War 3 maps. A sort of proper Team Deathmatch mode is also now available, where it's a 5v5 game with each side having 15 lives. The last team standing will be victorious. The multiplayer is still all about shotgunning people in the face, but still remains to be satisfying. If you're new to the Gears of War multiplayer, then a casual mode has been set up for you to be familiar with the basics. However, the mode will be locked once you spend a good amount of time in the game, forcing you to jump into the game's standard multiplayer. There's also dedicated servers now, which is sure to please many folks out there.
Multiplayer in Gears of War 3 will most likely be where your spending time after you complete the game's story. Each mode offers something different and can be played multiple times. All modes were quite fun, so there's sure to be something that will appeal to everyone. Even if playing competitively is not in your interests, the cooperative aspects alone offer great hours of fun to be had with a few of your friends.
There's not too much that's different in Gears of War 3, in terms of style, when compared to previous Gears of War games. But you can easily tell that the visuals have been improved from the last game. Everything feels more action-intensified, especially when your dealing with multiple Lambents that are blowing up all over the place, or encountering Locusts that pop out of the ground. That's probably the main thing that made the campaign such a joy for me. You'll have a few slow moments, but the action will soon ramp up that will suddenly increase the excitement and that stuff is shown quite nicely. There will also be a couple spots that will bring out some beauty to the destroyed world of Gears of War 3, and those portions of the game are a treat to look at.
The Gears of War franchise deserves all the praise it has received over the years and Gears of War 3 continues that trend and I'm sure it will gain its share of accolades. This latest installment brings a satisfying end to great story, and improves the cooperative and competitive multiplayer that made Gears of War the big name it is today. Gears of War fans will not be disappointed and even newcomers can come to appreciate what's in store. I had a great time with the game and can see myself pouring in countless more hours in the multiplayer and taking on foes with my buddies. Who can say for sure if this is the last we'll see of Delta Squad or of the Gears of War universe, but this is a fine example of how to end things with a bang.