Gears of War 3
So, I pay for XBOX Live annually. I have done for *checks the dashboard* 4 years apparently. It remains an awesome service that is worth paying for, however I’ve found since starting my full time job that I don’t have so much spare time to fill with playing games online. I will dip into it now and again for the odd game of Modern Warfare 2 or some such, but really, I don’t use it as much as I should and as much as I pay for it. This has changed since getting Gears of War 3 a few weeks ago.
You know exactly what to expect from Gears of War. It’s not a particularly deep, highly crafted narrative storyline with characters with “layers”; it is for all intents and purposes a mindless shooter. Or so it might appear from the outside.
We knew Gears of War was going to be a triology from a little before the first game was released. By now we’ve seen the game grow up in terms of locations, level design, graphics (although slight, Gears of War 3 manages to look the best of an awesome bunch), characters and the plot in the loosest sense of the meaning. The one thing that hasn’t needed changing is the very tightly woven together masterpiece that is the gameplay. From the very start of the first game, to the last bullet in the final part, Gears of War feels exactly like it should feel – every active reload is like some bridge in a symphony of a bullet-ridden score, every clip a perfectly written riff, every tinkle of a grenade drop, every neanderthal bassline of a “BOOM” or a “GRIND”, all combine to make a concert of destruction. And it’s awesome.
It’s unfair then to call Gears of War a mindless shooter. It’s actually a rather well thought out and planned shooter, and one that is fun to play, with a storyline that is better than that of the last game. I wouldn’t want to spoil any of what happens, so instead all I’d say is that from someone who is consistently burned by game storylines that never seem to finish, I loved the way this game wrapped up seemingly every loose end. That’s it – there will be no more Gears – they finished the trilogy well, they didn’t leave any trace of shoe-horning in another trilogy just because you know the franchise name will sell (in case you couldn’t guess I’m looking at you Halo 4 – the jury’s out on that game at the moment…). I wish Hollywood, AmericaTVLand and the Game Developer community would realise that finishing off a story is not a bad thing! I especially loved the line “What now?”.
I mentioned that I have been making more use out of XBOX Live of late, and that’s because of the new Horde mode and Beast modes that have been included. Honestly, you’ve got to leave it to the creators of Horde mode to actually do it right, again. At first I thought the barricade purchasing level they put in between every wave was going to be irritating and would spoil the mode, but it’s quite fun and offers some respite from the frantic action in between the waves. It’s also fun with 2 or 5 players and plays slightly differently depending on the number of teammates you have. Beast mode on the other hand offers some strategy to Gears, which quite frankly is an odd experience, considering a lot of the other modes of gameplay – but it’s certainly not bad. Actually using all the different members of the Locust clan is really really fun – from the tickers to the beserkers, each one has their own destructive powers that need to be tried for you to judge the best time to use them.
I’ve also played a bit of versus mode, specifically team deathmatch. Instead of giving you a kill count, they’ve given the teams a respawn limit – once this limit has been depleted, it’s down to the people who are still left, and it again plays differently from other shooters.
Essentially what Gears of War 3 is, is a collection of 4 or 5 different games all styled around their amazing gameplay engine, and for this reason it is probably one of the best value for money in a game that’s been released in the last year. If you needed any pursuasion to buy a game on launch at full retail price, I can’t think of reason not to get Gears of War 3 if you’ve enjoyed the other games in the past.