By now we all should be familiar with the Gears of War franchise. Having launched back in 2006 the series has finally ” concluded” this year with the third chapter in this particular story arc that it set out to tell when it dazzled us back in 06.
While I could go on and on about how amazing Gears of War 3 is I thought a better way to express my excitement would be to lay out 5 specific points that I think will drive home the point that this is a game that NO ONE should miss out on.
Without Further delay and in no particular order of excitement level….
1: Graphics. When Gears of War launched it set a new high bar for graphics on the XBOX360 and at that time the development studios where just getting their head wrapped around how to squeeze every last piece of processing power out of the box. Epic studios did just that. If you had asked me before this game came out I would have said that the game had nowhere to go as far as game graphics went. The series had hit its pinnacle. Well having played Gears of War 3 I can easily say that I was wrong. Gears 3 takes everything up a notch and dazzles us with superior lighting , characters models and environmental destruction that makes taking cover a dicey situation when facing off against some of the incredible monsters that get thrown at you!
2: ” Holy Shit moments” You know these moments. The ones where you literally drop your jaw and almost your controller for seconds on end as you marvel at the onscreen spectacle taking place in from of you. The moments that you and your friends talk about the next day and blur the lines between movies and games.
The difference between Gears of War 3 and all the other games that try to pull this off is that you really care about the characters involved in the moment.Every bullet you fire and every enemy you chainsaw makes you feel like a proverbial bad ass and Gears of War 3 does this better than any other game I know!
3: Characters. In the world of video games developers are always struggling with ways to get us to connect with our on-screen avatar. Sometimes they allow us to customize appearance and clothing to suit our tastes. Other times they allow us choice in how we interact with other characters through a conversation wheel of some kind. Gears of war 3 takes the characters we have played in the past 2 games and injected them with more soul than a James Brown tribute album. From the first game in the series it was clear that Epic Studios wanted to craft a very ” lived in ” world with the Gears franchise. The big focus with this was top-notch voice acting for all the games characters. Although we didn’t have any say in what the characters looked like or what they said we felt very connected to them. Thier struggle was real and filled with emotion. In Gears of war 3 our heroes are struggling for survival and we feel it.
In every cut scene or in-game banter you feel like these guys exist and they make you laugh and ( spoiler alert) they make you cry when something bad happens to them. The ability to play as each of these characters in the games multi player suite solidify that bond between gamer and virtual character. I can’t tell you how many times I cringe when i get chainsawed in a game of execution and see my favourite character lying on the ground in bloody giblets.
Gears of War 3 characters will forever be cemented in my mind and will enter the halls occupied by the likes of Mario, Solid snake, Link and others.
4: Deep gameplay. In a market dominated by First person shooters Gears of War 3 stands out from the pack. The ability to see your onscreen character in all his/her graphical glory has long been the main reason developers want to use a 3rd person perspective. EPIC studios took it one step further and added a deep and refined cover system mechanic that layered in an element of tactics to the shooter genre.In games without cover you simply hide behind a pillar or piece of scenery and lose your line of sight as a vision is obscured by said barrier. In Gears of war the camera is always planted behind you so taking cover now involves your character actually crouching behind obstacles and allowing you the player full view of the battlefield and a chance to take a breath and plan your next move.
Not only does this give you a chance to take a breath but it opens up a whole world of gameplay options. The game maps are designed to enable you to swap cover and move around the map maintaining cover if you like. The character animations while taking cover are super cool and heighten the feeling of ” baddassery” that is already flowing through this game.
5: Co oP. No game on the market does this like Gears of War 3. Epic studios must have been watching Star Wars when crafting the story for Gears 3. The game employs a story telling technique similar to George Lucas and even Shakespeare for the matter; Converging story threads.Previous Gears games had you in the shoes of the games two main character throughout the course of the narrative but in Gears 3 you are continually playing different characters as the story dictates and evolves. Much like ‘ The Empire Strikes Back” the heroes story takes the viewer( and in this case you the gamer) on a joyride of events across various locations in the game’s world. Gears 3 kicks most games ass by allowing drop in and drop out 4 player co-op! This is all handled seamlessly and never do you feel disjointed during the switching of characters at the conclusions of certain levels ( The game even pulls off a death scene with a key character you control and picks up right after without the controlling player losing touch with the games narrative!).Other games in this genre add co-op as an alternative to playing by yourself and often ” tack ‘ it on while Gears of war 3 actually makes you WANT to find 3 other players to join you in the thrill ride that is Gears of War 3!
I could go on for hours about how amazing this game and that would still be an understatement. In a year filled with so many triple A titles Gears of war stands out because it was a labour of love for Epic studios and not just another sequel they cranked out to make some more money. The game extrudes passion and attention to detail in all aspects of the package you hold in your hands. At the risk of sounding cliché I can honestly say that this game would be a compelling reason to purchase an XBOX360. There simply isn’t a comparable game that delivers the right mixture of refined shooting mechanics and deep story telling that Gears of War 3 does.
Dwayne ” EVO Knight” Morash