The first two hours of Gears of War 3, I think, are really representative of what a polished, seamlessly integrated experience is and should be. Of course it's hardly reinventing the wheel - but why should it? The series already provided the template that hundreds of others have been following this gen! Cut it some slack!
Dip into cover, pop and shoot, slam into the roadie run, cleave some poor schmuck in twain with your Lancer - the feature set of Gears of War 3 has become comfortingly familiar, but the magic of the game has never been a set of bullet points. It isn't what you do in the game - more how it's done.
Unlike most other third person shooters, which seem content to borrow the template created by Epic, Gears has its own identity, its own feel. Heaving a bunch of chunky men around the environment is fun, shooting is rewarding, reloading feels like a tense attrition of timing and skill. There's no getting around it - I love Gears of War 3.
The core of Gears, as you all know, is super solid, but what surprised me - particularly in the game's first act - is just how well paced the game's single player really is. It blusters from point to point seamlessly, to the extent that you're barely aware that you're simply moving from one combat encounter to the next.
Cut scenes are smartly written and economical - Gears of War is often criticised for being 'dumb', but it's more like Columbo - it pretends it's stupid, then surprises you with insight and smarts. The dialogue is crisp, even funny at times, and the characters are memorable.
I see it as the closest thing gaming has come to that prototypically awesome action movie Predator. A well-made action movie that bears repeat viewings - a great example of action done almost perfectly. I make absolutely no apologies for enjoying Gears of War 3 from start to finish.
But enough rambling from me! This is supposed to be a Community Review - what did you guys think of the game?