Epic Games – Microsoft Game Studios – Xbox 360 – BBFC 18 – Out Now
Reviewed by Juanvasquez – Videogames editor
“Brothers to THE END”
So here it is. Epic’s er, epic conclusion to the Gears of War trilogy. Following on from 2008’s impressive action gore fest Gears of War 2, which for me was one of the games of the year, part 3 has a lot to live up to. Since the last episode, the COG have disbanded and humanity is stretched thin and on the verge of extinction. A new threat has emerged, the Lambent, an emulsion (a by-product left behind by human energy consumption) infected version of the Locust, have overwhelmed both the humans and the Locust.
The remaining COG members have taken to the seas, aboard huge freighters, acting as floating bases. This is where the action starts. After a familiar dream sequence (and control tutorial), once again taking control of Marcus Fenix, you make your way through the bowels of the ship, meeting up with Gears regular Dominic Santiago, to escort a previously thought MIA general aboard. The general has news about a possible solution to the Lambent problem and the war, as well as news that Marcus’ father is still alive. Those who have played the previous games will know that Marcus’, then presumed dead, father was more than mentioned throughout the story. The problem is, the solution is with Marcus’ father, who is on a secluded island, which has been captured by the Locust.
The COG’s decide to make one last stand and put an end to a war that is effectively destroying humanity, and the world. With a course set, they head out for Mr. Fenix, but obviously, things won’t be that simple. The opening act is great stuff. The Lambent attack the boat, cumulating in a battle with a giant kraken like sea beast. After which, you get to see events from the Cole Train’s (whoooooooooooo!) and Baird’s point of view, assisting with kraken attack climax. En route, you visit Cole Train’s old home town, where he was once a star ball player, including a rather touching flashback scene, remembering his glory days. While the action doesn’t let up, unfortunately some of the gameplay and story line does, including what should have been a moving part to the story, just felt daft given the music playing over the top. But that might just be me. After some getting from A to B and a god awful on the rails section, things pick up again, but unfortunately it’s only in the last act. It is a great finale to a decent single player campaign, although the end video is a little underwhelming considering it’s the last chapter in a massive game series.
Battling the Locust and Lambent can be tough. Unlike most shooters, the enemy in GOW eat bullets like it’s a free meal. You need to concentrate fire on particular weak spots (the face, for example) other wise you’ll be wasting your ammo, which leads me onto the subject of weapons. It appears ammunition is in short supply this time around, meaning you have to use ammo sparingly, otherwise you’ll find yourself changing weapons very often. The weapons are all familiar. You start out with the iconic chainsaw-bayoneted Lancer, as well as the standard shotgun and pistol. As you progress through, you’ll pick up the usual weapons such as the Hammer of Dawn and the Torque Bow, as well as new weapons like the Retro Lancer, which is a substandard version of the Lancer, with a knife bayonet which enables you to charge at the enemy and rip them apart, in a manner just as blood soaked as the standard Lancer melee attack. I can’t help but feel reminded of Predator whilst playing this game. Not only is the music slightly reminiscent of Silvestri’s score, but what other film has big muscles, bigger guns and big action so gratuitously presented in the same way as the Gears of War games?
It’s a good enough campaign, particularly on co-op, but pales in comparison to Gears of War 2. It may look better, but it didn’t feel as epic as its predecessor, and given this is the last hurrah, it really should have been. GOW3 boasts some great multiplayer modes, with your standard death, team and capture the flag modes, as well as an improved Horde mode and the new Beast mode. I can’t help but think that the multiplayer has been given more care and attention over the single player mode this time round, as you could definitely tell it took a back seat to the campaign in the previous instalment.
Beast mode is a novel idea. You take on the role of the Locust, and in each map have to take out the humans. This appears to be the antithesis of Hoard mode in which the roles are reversed. As the COG, you have to take out the oncoming waves of Locust and Lambent forces. As great as these are, to base a games’ merits on its multiplayer modes seems rather redundant, unless it’s specifically designed for multiplayer. I’m sure most would disagree as there is a huge multiplayer market out there, but my personal preference in any game is a single player/co-op campaign and separate multiplayer should be a bonus.
Overall, it’s an entertaining, yet somewhat shallow experience considering it’s the final instalment of one of the 360’s flagship titles. It’s a title that’s as visually impressive as it is gory, but I can’t help but feel most of the effort has gone into the multiplayer modes. Filling the boots of its predecessor was a big undertaking, whit this game coming up a few sizes too small.