Gears of War is a hugely popular franchise, and did a similar job for the Xbox 360 as Halo did for the original Xbox. Originally slated as a trilogy (again like Halo) it told the epic story of Marcus Fenix and his squad doing endless battle with the insidious Locust horde. As we know, a further trilogy was greenlit after developers The Coalition took over from Epic Games, but that’s a story for another day.
Gears of War 3 brought the series back with a bang. It was set 18 months after the second game which saw the fall of Jacinto, the last human city. Unfortunately the Locust survived and the war raged on, and to make matters worse The Lambent popped up to cause more trouble for Marcus and his pals. These were mutants infected by Imulsion, a parasitic fungal organism found on Sera, who entered into a war with the Locust over control of the subterranean tunnel network that runs beneath the planet’s surface, called the Hollow.
The character roster was very strong in Gears of War 3, with favourites such as Adam Fenix (Marcus’ father) and Queen Myrrah returning for the final part of the trilogy. Character development is something the franchise has always done well. The game detailed a thrilling race against time to stop The Lambent and Locust once and for all by perfecting a weapon that would wipe them from the face of Sera for good, whilst revealing more about the history and lore of the Gears universe than ever before.
Gears of War has always stood out from other shooters of its ilk due to its cover system and heavier, slower character movement which changes the typical FPS gameplay, and makes proceedings a little more tactical. You could carry four weapons, two of which were primary (shotguns and machine guns etc), one secondary (handguns) and grenades. As you took damage, your screen would slowly turn red as you inched closer to death, or at least get downed and require a teammate to revive you.
These were the hallmarks of the series which once again featured in Gears of War 3. Unlike other FPS series’, such as Halo for the sake of consistency, the gameplay here remained very similar to the first game with very little in the way of changes, but instead tweaks made to the existing setup. Although quite rare, it’s more of a testament to just how tight and well crafted the Gears experience was from day one.
Of course, Gears of War is all about battling with your fellow COGs and working as a unit. For the first time in this outing you could tag enemies to have your allies concentrate their fire on a specific one, which proved very handy when some of the bigger beasts were out to get you. Whether this was an Armoured Kantus, Siegebeast or a member of the Savage Locust (who had essentially gone feral), Gears of War 3 had a very long list of varied threats in which to throw at you.
In a rather handy development, you could now swap weapons and ammo with your squad if you preferred what they were packing. There were a handful of new weapons to get your hands on in Gears of War 3. Incendiary Grenades and the Sawed-off Shotgun speak for themselves, however others such as the Digger Launcher had a little more to them. This weapon fired small creatures that had explosives strapped to them which then dug underground whilst approaching their target. When close enough, they would pop up and explode which also released shrapnel that caused some serious damage.
Alongside the main campaign, DLC entitled RAAM’s Shadow was released for Gears of War 3 (I’m sure we all remember that charming chap from the first game). Multiplayer was also improved, with a four player online story co-op available for the first time along with the return of Horde mode. Another cool addition was Beast mode, which flipped things and allowed you to play as the Locust and fight against the COG.
Gears of War 3 was truly an epic conclusion to a beloved franchise, which pulled out all the stops to avoid being an anticlimax, which is an easy trap to fall into for a finale. To do it justice you need to start from the very beginning of the journey, but you’ll be safe in the knowledge that some of the best moments in the series are saved right up until the final act.
You can grab a copy of Gears 3 from the Xbox Store right now.