Sunday, September 25, 2011

Brothers Till The End - A Gears of War 3 Review

Gears of War.  It is a game that holds a lot of fond memories for me.  It was really the first game that I got into when my wife bought me a XBox 360 back at Christmas time in 2006.  I had really been out of gaming for a while and had been too busy to put a lot of time back into it.  With the online multiplayer component of the system overall and of this game in particular, she thought it would be a good way for me to reconnect with friends who I hadn't gotten to see a lot of since we had the triplets.  It was my opportunity to really get into a hobby that I had really loved at one time. The game blew me away.  The last games I had really played with any regularity were the Resident Evil games with Code Veronica being my last and the Metal Gear Solid games all on the PSX and early PS2.  This was  Big and bold and brash.  I hate to sound this way, but it was an American game, made for American tastes and without a lot of "weirdness" that those Japanese franchises I had grown up on seem to have to always squeeze in somewhere.  The single player was amazing, especially in Co-op, which was something I had never done before, and the multiplayer was smooth and seamless and, most importantly, fun.  That game above all others launched me back into gaming and here I am, 83747 gamerscore and five odd years later at what can be argued as the end of the series.  Here is what I thought as I finished the campaign tonight.
Be warned...this isn't going to be spoiler-free as much as it is going to spoiler-light.  Not going to reveal anything major, but read on with caution.  The original Gears was amazing and for many, Gears 2 was a big letdown.  While it was bigger and more badass in many ways, the pacing was off at times and the was thinner than goose poop.  Epic experimented with a lot of things which didn't always work, but I always gave them props for trying.  The one big thing that came out of it that practically every other triple A title has copied in one form or fashion was Horde Mode and if it weren't for that, I don't think it would remembered as fondly as it is today by many.  With Gears 3, Epic seemed to put a lot of loving care into everything and used what it learned from those first two games.  Amazing visuals, great story, and a minute to minute gaming experience that will suck you in and before you know it, it is 2 in the morning.  The graphics, textures, and lighting have all been overhauled and upgraded and you get to see so much more diversity in Sera and you never spend a chapter underground at all during the whole of the game.  There is a lot more than greys and browns to the world and you fight, oh and you will fight a lot, in much more varied locations this time around.  You are even underwater for a chapter...and it isn't bad.  The story centers around this group of characters that you have known from the beginning and sure, they are loud and curse and have machismo to spare, but if you have stuck with them, you will know what all they have gone through and you really feel the pain and suffering that they have endured.  I almost teared up in a spot about midway really is that kind of game.  It totally caught me off guard and wasn't forced...was really cool...but oh so bad.  Overall, the gameplay is great.  You get to see the return of some old favorites that you might...or maybe might not...have missed and some of the new experiences are invigorating.  Perfect game?  No, but overall the missteps are minor.  I played through on Normal difficulty and since you are part of four man (and woman - Hello, Claudia Black!) team through the whole of the game, there were occasions where I really didn't have to do much in the way of fighting.  I am sure this changes as the difficulty ramps up, but still, I would have liked for them to have depended on least a little.  Oh...and I got tired of fuel finding based missions...a little more variety there there for my motivation would have been nice. can play as a strong, non-sexualized woman or two!
As for multiplayer, I haven't played a lot, but the match making issues from Gears 2 are gone and the Horde and new Beast modes (where you play as the bad guys) are addicting and a lot of fun with friends.  Tons of the things to unlock and customize with.  Ribbons to earn for completing certain tasks.  Collectibles to find in the campaign that actually add to the overall story.  There is a ton of things to do for your $60.  Oh...and it comes with a sheet of stickers in the box...STICKERS! Last in the series?  Well, it sure does wrap up a lot and I am not sure where it would go from here, but who knows.  If you own an XBox 360, you owe it to yourself to pick this game up and get some friends together on line and have a blast.  Either with the campaign or the multiplayer in one form or will be very, very happy that you did.  Brothers to the end, indeed.
Thanks Cliffy

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