Go ahead. Look the grizzled, battle-scarred Marcus Michael Fenix in the face and tell him his third game sucks. You can't do it, but don't feel bad. Even the most battle-hardened video game critics are humbled by his majesty.
Marcus and his meaty Gears compatriots have been kicking Locust ass up and down the planet Sera for nearly five years now, and what do they have to show for it? Humanity is on the brink of extinction, sinister forces are still at work, and it turns out that the main character has some serious daddy issues, something that happens when your long-lost father might be the key to saving all of mankind from destruction.
Will Marcus and friends triumph, completing their epic journey and learning something about friendship along the way? I certainly hope so. It'd be a shame for all of these reviewers to give such high scores to a game that ends on a downer.
After fighting against the Locust and the Lambent, Marcus and Co. are finally ready to put an end to the war and in true Delta Squad style, that's going to mean lots of chainsawing, curb stomps, and the occasional shotgun blast to the face. The final game in the Gears of War trilogy is everything fans expect - massive explosions, gravelly voiced soldiers, surprising enemies, and, of course, an abundance of chest-high walls. It also happens to contain a tremendous amount of fun, despite its sometimes ridiculous characters.
Gears of War 3's campaign is the most exhaustive of the series; featuring more characters, a deeper story, new enemies, new environments as well as the trademark set-piece moments, crisp visuals and hard-hitting weapons. Multiplayer sees various new modes, an increased player count and a greatly improved leveling up system. If you're the type that worries about whether you're going to get value for your forty-quid then, in this case, you can rest easy. This is a game that's expertly constructed; the product of a team seemingly in their element, buoyed by the success of the series so far and the expectations of their audience.
Remember your climactic battle against a screen-smothering sea monster near the very end of Gears of War 2? Well, that guy shows up less than half an hour into Gears of War 3, chomps down on the deck of your island-sized warship and can only be defeated with the help of a near-indestructible, rocket-fitted mech suit. In other words, this campaign is crazy ambitious. While the length is pretty much the same as previous entries, the scale is anything but, and creatures that once qualified as game-finishing bosses now appear routinely in the middle of missions, often demanding you defeat them with nothing more than the weapons at hand.
Brumaks as big as Tyrannosaurs? We lost count of how many we faced. Corpsers that make the spider in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings seem downright cuddly? They show up in multiple forms, from burrowing baby to seriously pissed-off mommy. Berserkers, the charging bulls of the Gears universe? Upgraded to leave trails of poisonous acid in their wake. Even regular enemies are scarier and nastier than before – the new breeds of Lambent Locust don't just die when you shoot them, they explode into nightmarish second lives, full of squirmy tentacle arms and decapitated head snakes, requiring you to kill them all over again. It's wild and it's intense.
I would have been entirely satisfied with new maps to shake up the outstanding multiplayer from Gears 2. Epic easily takes care of that with classic modes like Team Deathmatch and Gears favorites like Wingman on brilliant, varied maps. An amazing new mode reminiscent of playing the Infected in Left 4 Dead joins Horde mode on the co-op front. Overwhelming the human defenses as the Locust Horde is a wonderful Gears take on being the bad guys. I love the Counter-Strike style economy of earning cash for breaking fortifications and killing humans, then spending that cash to respawn as anything from a Ticker to a Boomer. This new Beast mode is as compelling to me as Horde mode, Call of Duty's Spec Ops or Zombies, or any other innovative co-op mode from the last decade.
All of this online action will, theoretically, work better than it did in Gears of War 2. After numerous complaints about host advantages and other online shenanigans, the game's matches have moved onto dedicated servers. This is a behind-the-scenes change, for the most part. You won't see a server browser or anything like that, and the only place where you get options about which weapons you want to allow in a game or which map you want to play on is when you're setting up a private game. You can also play against bots in those private games, if you like, but only in the versus multiplayer. Bots can't play Horde or Beast with you. Bots can, technically, also appear in public quick match games, but I suspect that once the game is widely available, you probably won't see a lot of non-human players in those matches.
Official Xbox Magazine
For the longest time, the Halo series has been the answer to the question, "Why should I buy an Xbox?" Frankly, Master Chief's franchise is the reason our platform exists. But while the future surely holds great things for Spartan 117, right now, the evidence is indisputable: Gears of War 3 is the ultimate realization of the Xbox 360 console, much in the same way Halo 2 was for the original Xbox. It maximizes the hardware's horsepower; boasts a fully featured, seamless online experience that serves up both competitive and cooperative gameplay; and it's enduringly replayable online or off. Quite simply, Gears of War 3 leaves no stone unturned - it's everything a triple-A blockbuster should be. Good luck getting the disc out of your console for months to come.
But tell us how you guys really feel.