Monday, November 14, 2011

An Epic Finale: Gears of War 3 Review

Better late than never! Friend-of-the-site Adam Marcey takes a break from his months-long obsession with Gears of War 3 to give us an in-depth review. Be sure to check back in a few days, when Adam will take on Modern Warfare 3.

Gears of War was the first game I purchased for Xbox 360 back in 2007 (yes I know, it took me awhile to take the plunge) and I loved it. For my first next-gen console gaming experience I was absolutely blown away. The Unreal engine worked beautifully for the cover-based third person shooter, the graphics were rich and the story was actually interesting and, for the most part, original. Needless to say, I was destined to be forever hooked to the franchise and the Xbox 360.

Imagine my slight disappointment upon the release of Gears of War 2. Compared to its predecessor, it fell miles short for a highly anticipated follow-up. The GOW 2 online multiplayer Horde mode was the one bright spot, but the campaign and story fell well short of my expectations. The underground setting was very repetitive and although the graphics were once again amazing, it didn’t feel “new.” And what the hell was with that level where Marcus and Company had to escape from the belly of a… wait for it… giant worm?!? Yeah, a worm. Dodging pools of acid and outrunning the digestive wall, not to mention severing the arteries of the 27 hearts a worm has, isn’t my idea of a memorable gaming experience. I had absolutely no appetite for a day after playing that level, and that’s saying something: I was a fat kid at the time. Oh, poor writing at its finest. Speaking of which, I would like to thank the writing team for the drawn out and utterly worthless half a game of “Let’s find Dom’s wife Maria” subplot only to discover that… wait for it… she’s horribly malnourished and seconds from death! I want those 3 – 4 hours back!

The gang's all here!
So now the expectations are much higher, and I’m happy to say that Epic Games pulled through and delivered a winner for GOW 3. This game is everything you would expect for the franchise. Quite honestly, I’ve played it every day since the release (yes ladies, this guy is single!) and will probably continue playing it for months to come. The settings vary enough to keep you interested and the landscapes and graphics come through strong, except for a level where you essentially play through a desert. Instead of playing the entire game as protagonist Marcus Fenix, you get almost an entire level of gameplay as Cole, who returns to his hometown and visits the old Thrashball stadium where he was once a star, prior to the war. And thank the heavens the story doesn’t suck. Of course nobody really expects a Mass Effect caliber story from a gory third person shooter, but I wasn’t bored to death. The subplot of Marcus’ dad; Adam Fenix, fits in nicely, and the surprisingly emotional elements of the story were handled well and didn’t detract from the overall campaign gameplay. With all that said, it’s not the single player campaign that makes this game one the years best; it’s the ludicrously deep multiplayer.

Once again, Horde mode returns and is a winner. In this mode, you and up to 4 other players battle wave after wave of Locust with increasing difficulty every level, with every 10th level being a boss wave. Throughout, you earn cash for kills which you use to build fortifications and buy ammo; tower defense at its finest. A new addition is Beast Mode, where you play as different tiers of the Locust Horde and try to kill the human defenders. You earn cash for destroying fortifications and killing the humans and their leaders, which in turn allows you to purchase more powerful Locust through the 12 levels of this mode.

You can play as the Locust in multiplayer. Watch your back!

If this sounds a little familiar, you might have played something similar in the Left 4 Dead series. Other multiplayer games include GOW staple Wingman, where you and a partner have to kill 3 other 2 man teams, classic Team Deathmatch; Warzone, which is Team Deathmatch but every player gets only 1 life per round; Execution where every kill has to be an execution; and my personal favorite King of the Hill, where each team has to capture an objective ring and hold it to score points. The first team to reach 150 points wins the round. This multiplayer suite will keep you busy for hours. Although I am a big fan of GOW 3 multiplayer, I can see how some players of this game may not appreciate it as much as I do, especially if you are fan of Call of Duty multiplayer (seriously though, who isn’t?).

The leveling system in GOW 3 is strictly cosmetic; the experience points you earn do nothing except unlock new characters to play as, and you unlock no new weapons or perks along the way. Every player starts with the same 6 weapons; kills and challenges only unlock ribbons and medals that can be viewed under your “Stats & Rewards” tab at the menu. There are also numerous weapon skins you can purchase online or unlock which give your guns a different appearance only, and frankly I could give a shit what my gun looks like as I take out my frustrations of real life on shit-talking douchebags who take videogames way too seriously. In this respect the unique GOW 3 multiplayer is a breath of fresh air.

"Hold on, I have something in my ear."
I do have a few gripes. First of all, getting kills with shotguns is way too easy. All you have to do is get within a few feet of another player and pull the trigger once. Most online players I’ve played against are fucking surgical with shotguns, and at times it become frustrating and annoying. The only way to fight back is to use your own shotgun, which draws whiny comments from the losing team about how much you suck because you used the sawed off shotgun. You really can’t win in this respect. Also, especially in King of the Hill, the game becomes very predictable. You can probably guess where the next ring will pop up and a lot of players will stay out of the fight and camp out at the next ring, which is quite annoying as well. Same with the campaign; although I praise the story improvement in this installment, it also becomes predictable at times. Most Gears fans can probably tell you which main character dies before they even played the game. However, I will reiterate that nobody really expects much out of the story in a game like this.

Gears of War 3 is worth every penny: A satisfying 10 – hour campaign coupled with a multiplayer suite with high replay value make this one of 2011’s best games. GOW fans will be happy with this installment, and if the franchise ends here I will be more than satisfied. In the OXM review of this game, the writer said something along the lines of “good luck trying to get this game out of your system for the next couple of months,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Wait a minute…Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 just released. Never mind.

Final Verdict: 5/5

Adam Marcey is KGB's resident BroDawg. Leave him some love in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment