As a fan of the series, I was excited to regroup with Marcus, Dom, and the rest of the remaining COG to finish the fight against the Locust and Lambent threats. Gears of War 2 left off with a last stand of sorts, where we witnessed the last human stronghold flooded in an effort to destroy the enemy. Gears of War 3 picks up two years later, and everything has continued to go to shit. The government has fallen, the COG essentially disbanded, the Lambent continue to infest the planet, while the remaining Locust struggle for survival above ground.
Through-out GoW 2, we learned that Adam Fenix (Marcus’ father) might still be alive after all these years. GoW 3 starts out with a dream sequence where Marcus recounts his final moments with his father, and the truth continues to unravel through-out the campaign. GoW 3 is said to be the last in the series, and they would have you believe it by how many of the loose ends are tied up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the last we see of Marcus Fenix and company. That’s one thing I loved about this game – it truly gives you a sense of closure, while a few minute details are left open for further expansion.
It feels as though the series matured from the first game through the third. At the beginning, we were told of all these horrible things that happened to the human race, without much of an explanation. Aside from the battered cities, we didn’t see the direct impact it had on the people that inhabited the planet, or those remaining to fight for it. That changed in GoW 2 in a big way, and a real human connection was established. GoW 3 continues to strengthen that connection, and we see the impact all of these actions have had on the main characters. This longterm war has taken a toll on everyone. We see them nearing the end of their rope, and we hear the remorse in their voice. It’s not just about shooting monsters in the face anymore.
I do have one major beef with the campaign, and that is the tremendous difficulty spike in the last chapter. I’m all for challenging boss battles, but when you’re stuck on a part for 90 minutes and get the feeling that it’s going to take sheer luck for you to complete it, there’s something wrong. Not to mention, the focus on cover is completely thrown out the window, as you have enemies closing in from all angles. My wife and I were playing co-op on Hardcore, and there were only a couple others points in the campaign that took multiple retries, but none as bad as this. We ended up restarting the chapter with my wife on Casual, and beat it first try.
Everything that I love and expect to see in a Gears of War game is in tact, and much more. The campaign is a decent ten-twelve hour investment, and can be played solo, split-screen co-op, or online co-op with up to four players. There’s a new arcade mode for the campaign, which adds competitive scoring as seen in the mulltiplayer modes. The usual flavours of competitive multiplayer are there. Horde makes a return, and what is essentially the inverse of Horde has been introduced – Beast.
The scoring/ranking system is quite nice, in that it spans the entire game, not just the multiplayer end. You earn XP, badges, medals, and unlock players and weapon skins while playing any of the game modes.
Horde and Beast have a currency system in place, where you earn money for taking down enemies and reviving teammates. Cash is spent on fortifications, player upgrades, ammo, and weapons scattered across the map. Fortifications and player upgrades are tiered, so the more you invest, the bigger your return in the long run. For example, when you start building spike strips in Horde, your strip is levelled up the more you invest in it over time. A level one spike strip is a simple strip on the ground. Level two adds barbed wire. Level three adds lasers, and so on.
Overall, there are a huge amount of unlockables, which shows that Gears of War 3 is built to last. We will most definitely see multiplayer maps added in future, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they released some additional chapters which explore some of those minute details that were left open.
Gears of War 3 as a whole packs one hell of a punch! It delivers a satisfying, emotionally driven campaign that hits all of the right notes. And an awesome multiplayer suite that is sure to keep people playing for years to come.