Gears of War 3 preview review
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Get those chainsaws revving; practice those active reloads; and prepare for mayhem, as Gears of War 3 looks set to offer further immersion into the beautifully disturbed mindset of Marcus and his Gears...
Since Gears or War stormed onto the 360 back in the latter end of 2006, gamers the world over have been eagerly awaiting the final instalment of this epic saga. Although its original release date of April 2011 has been pushed way back to September of this year, it would appear, from what I have seen and played, that it's going to be worth the wait.
We rejoin the story 18 months after the fall of Jacinto. The Gears have moved to a remote island called Vectes, and are operating out of a converted aircraft carrier dubbed ‘The Ravens Nest’. The COG has been disbanded, and the stranded and survivors from ‘E-Day’ are living amongst the Gears on Vectes. There are some new characters to get to grips with too, most notably there are now playable female characters; like the saucy Samantha Byrne, voiced by Claudia Black.
It’s not just the Gears that have got new faces though; the Locoust are being infected by the imulsion and these infected (or ‘Lambent’) creatures are a threat to both the Gears and the Locoust in seemingly equal measure - much like the Flood from Halo 3 onwards. There are also new Locoust forces present - the Savage Grenadier, the Digger Boomer and the Locust Siege Beast - and this added depth is rounded off by an armoured Kantus, providing a further element of involvement for the players. To give our brave Gears a fighting chance against the expanding hordes, their arsenal has also been given an extra kick. Players can now eviscerate the Locoust with a sawn-off shotgun, a ‘digger launcher’, and the ‘retro’ lancer (the chainsaw has been replaced with a massive bayonet, presumably for making Locust kebabs).
However, the most anticipated new addition to the upcoming sequel is the inclusion of the ‘Silverbacks’. Put simply, these 'Silverbacks' are Gears of War 3’s effort at getting in on all the mech-walker action that has been going on in most FPS’s for the last few years. And it must be said, it looks like they have got the formula just about right. Armed with a machine gun and rocket launcher, the Silverback is a formidable foe for anything that crosses its path, be it Locoust, Lambent or otherwise. If things get a bit too heavy, it can also lock into place and deploy its armour plating to give cover for itself and any Gears close by.
The gameplay will be pleasingly familiar to anyone with past GoW experience, whilst remaining accommodating of the new gamer. It is the same bonanza of weighty controls, well timed reloads and chest high walls that we have become used to; as they say, if it ain't broke, don’t fix it. Some things have changed though - shooting feels a bit less accurate with some of the guns, forcing you to fire in much more controlled bursts. This slows the pace of the combat a little further, but it also really draws you into the battles, making sure you place your shots and choose your targets carefully. Active reloads, rolling into cover, the ‘roadie-run’, all the familiar facets of a Gears game are present and correct, so even the most diehard of fans should find little to complain about.
Multiplayer is obviously there too, and this time it's coming with dedicated servers, something that is sure to please the critics of Gears 2’s online offerings. New modes include “Capture the Leader” and “Beast Mode”, the second of which is basically “Horde” from Gears of War 2 but with your roles reversed. You are now playing as the Locust trying to eliminate all the Gears, something that looks set - and certainly felt like - a breath of fresh air for a game that has been criticised as having a somewhat samey online experience.
In all, the third and final Gears of War looks set to live up to all the expectations that have been piled upon it. Epic have stuck to a good formula of keeping what works and the core elements of gameplay, whilst simply tweaking and updating some features to make for an overall smoother and more enjoyable experience. That - plus the addition of a pile of new guns and enemies - should be enough to steer Gears of War 3 towards the heights of perfection, accumulating critical acclaim and large sales in the process; and after all, isn't that what it's all about?
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