I can't believe everyone actually died, what a courageous way to end this highly influential trilogy. Just kidding. Wow, you should have seen your face.
Anyway, did you know that some felt the first Gears of War was the first truly "next-gen" game of this current generation? True story. So here, finally, it comes to a close with what is arguably the best game in the series. Yes, I can begin this review with saying Epic really got it right this time. With a strong campaign that successfully ties up most of the plot, the same fun multiplayer the series is known for, and some extra additions such as Beast Mode and the upgraded Horde 2.0 mode.
Starting with the campaign, things pick up two years after the ending of Gears 2 and everything has, quite frankly, gone to hell. In truth, it's a little challenging to talk any more about the plot without getting into spoilers, so all I will say is that this is one of Epic's best campaigns to date. It's very well-paced, has some great set pieces with truly gorgeous looking environments and best of all, they do a much better job when going for the emotional heartstrings this time. The writing is, thank god, better than Gears 2; although do not expect anything in the realm of BioShock quality. The story is interesting and the reason for what everyone is doing is clear, concise and important. As always, the fate of the world rests in the very thick hands of our lovable squad mates. The AI companions, for the most part, are very helpful and reliable, although there were one or two times I died because they simply refused to revive me - the jerks.
The original crew returns, along with some new cast mates; there are even 2 female characters that you may play as in the games co-op modes. Speaking of co-op, for the first time in the series, you may play through the campaign with up to four player co-op via Xbox Live. For the most part, the golden rule still applies, where co-op makes everything better. Although, with that said, a common problem you will find is sometimes ammo can be in short supply. This can actually be a bit of a blessing in disguise though, as it forces you to try out more of the game's weapons, all of which are tons of fun! As is traditional with any new game, there are some new weapons for you to discover and enjoy. The only new weapon I was not a fan of was the giant Cleaver, which kind of made me feel like I was playing a paintball match and using a paint brush as my weapon of choice.
Moving along to the multiplayer; unfortunately as of review time I was unable to get into a single versus match online. Now this might be because the game is not actually out yet and there aren't a lot of people playing. Although at one point it did say there were 1100 people online playing team deathmatch, so the fact that it was unable to "find a suitable match" is a bit concerning. Considering the last Gears game had some major server issues, this does not fill me with confidence. Although the Beta a few months ago was very smooth, so... fingers crossed.
So, uncertain multiplayer aside, I can tell you about Horde 2.0 and Beast mode, which are both awesome! Horde, which I'm sure any Gears 2 fan is familiar with, is an up to five-player co-op mode where you have to survive up to 50 waves of enemies, with each wave getting tougher and tougher. For Horde 2.0 Epic has added light tower defence features and some slight role playing game elements. These new components come into it by earning gold for killing things and using it in between waves to build stuff like fences, turrets, decoys and more. As you build more of these and repair them you slowly upgrade the levels of things you can build. Basically this means building lots of fences will eventually let you upgrade a fence to a level 2 fence. This new element adds a lot of strategy and fun to Horde mode. It also requires you to work better as a team, as you can share each others' money. So maybe instead of each of you buying a $500 ammo pack; you could pool your cash together and buy a much needed turret at the location you are defending. Now, before you think this might make things a bit too easy, nothing could be further from the truth, especially when taking into account that each 10th wave is a boss wave.
But hey, you know what's better than fighting against a boss wave in Horde 2.0? Getting to be a freaking boss in Beast mode! Here you play as the Locust and need to kill all the AI controlled humans within a very tight time limit for 12 waves. Simply put, here, you are the horde. This mode is actually pretty damn hard in the first few waves since you are stuck with only the most basic of Locusts – drones & tickers etc - but later you will unlock the more powerful beasts in the Locust army. Just like Horde 2.0, you earn money for each kill and structure you destroy, which you need in order to spawn as the stronger units. Killing also adds extra time on the clock, which is crucial to your success. So what is my favourite unit? Being a freaking Berserker! This semi-blind creature is a chaos causing, walking wall of pure destruction and oh so much fun to play as. But in the end, let’s face facts; this is still a Gears of War game, so by now, you know what you are getting into.
Epic has not re-invented the wheel with Gears 3, they've simply improved on a formula that was pretty awesome in the first place. The gameplay is the same, but a little tighter, it looks great and has some really beautiful locations; especially towards the end of the game. The fast paced, cover-based combat is still plenty of fun; the story provides answers to series long questions and actually makes you care once or twice. For multiplayer, while I can't testify to any versus, I can say that Horde 2.0 and Beast mode are tons of fun. Figuring out the best strategies for the various maps should keep you and some friends busy for a few months. While I would be shocked if we didn't see another game in the Gears franchise sometime in the future, this trilogy is complete. We can all breathe a sigh of relief/joy that Epic finished things off with a bang. So as Marcus would say, "Nice!"