Reader Review: Gears Of War 3

Have you gotten your hands on Gears of War 3 yet? The ever-articulate Kotaku reader, Tristan Damen has, and in this week's reader review he shares with us what he loved, hated, and thought could have been done better. Take it away, Tristan! — The Gears of War games haven't previously been known to showcase strong storytelling. Don't get me wrong: I loved both instalments (in terms of both campaign and multiplayer), but a lot of the biggest twists in the tale of Delta Squad lacked impact. Thankfully, Epic Games contracted Karen Traviss - who has written three books based on the series - to write the script for the third game. With Gears' only weakness shielded by some powerful narrative armour, have the developers been able to fortify some of the strongest gunplay I've had the pleasure of indulging in and deliver the perfect game?

The Good Bullet rideGears 3 moves at breakneck pace and features everything I love about its predecessors: big guns, big (read: HUGE) monsters and big (read: impossibly-muscly) heroes. The size and scale of some locust and lambent opponents is truly both artistically and technically, and make for some thrilling boss fights. Everything from Brumaks to Leviathans are represented over the course of the six hour plus campaign, and the addition of an Arcade Mode smacks of replay value. Better yet, the series' staple third-person cover shooting is as tight and enjoyable as ever. This is one for the ages!

Mad World indeed — Throughout the campaign, players will traverse across a genuinely-surprising range of locales, each rendered with a high level of detail. Epic have squeezed all they can out of the Unreal 3 engine, and series-long flaws such as instances of textures disappearing have been minimised noticeably. What makes these locations all the more impressive is the sheer carnage that can be set against them (particularly in Horde Mode). The action never slows down, even with scores of Beserkers, Drones and Brumaks unleashing hell on humanity's final few.

Waking nightmare — Traviss' aforementioned script gives far greater insight into the struggle of returning characters than that of any previous Gears instalment. Cole is no longer just a muscle-bound, catch-phrase machine. There are points where he actually appears weary, almost unable to "Whooo!" Baird's sharp tongue hints at troubles that are more than skin deep, Marcus is made to be more than a pair of hulking arms with a foul mouth, and Dom's grief even appears genuine. The characters in Gears have finally emerged from their bulky shells.... and they're ready to share.

Clean break — In what is becoming a rarity these days, Gears 3 has an ending. A clean, somewhat-satisfying, cliffhanger-free ending. There may be some questions unresolved and raised over the course of this final instalment, but none that would require another sequel (although more Gears games will undoubtedly appear somewhere down the line). Best of all, the game shines light on characters hinted at in previous games and in Traviss' novels. That being said, Bernie looks nowhere near as rough as I thought she would.

The Bad What's the score? — I'm not a huge fan of Gears 3's soundtrack. The voicework is of a solid standard, but the God of War-esque chorus and horns don't inspire much heroics.

Not exactly h4rdc0r3z — My first play-through of the campaign was on Hardcore difficulty (the highest setting initially available), and I experienced very few problems throughout the adventure. Your AI-controlled companions may be inept with a gun, but they have few troubles healing you; meaning you'll very rarely have to make your way back to a checkpoint. I didn't even die once during the final boss fight: this isn't the usual brand of Gears difficulty.

The Ugly That old dance — Competitive multiplayer matches are still often decided by the shotgun dance; except this time, the sawed-off shotgun adds more frustration to the brutal ballet. This whinge may be attributed to my less-than-stellar kill/death ratio, but my God is that weapon powerful! It doesn't derail the action entirely, but there have almost been a few rage quits thanks to this ridiculously-powerful sidearm.

The Verdict The gory, thrilling gun battles and epic boss fights can be enjoyed alone and with/against company for hours on end. Additional modes, weapons and a new progression system act as further carrots to keep players engaged. Best of all, the bulky, foul-mouthed Gears have finally been given the articulate voice that they needed: the voice that we’ve all been waiting to hear, having hung around these colossal Neanderthals for almost five years.

Do you agree with Tristan's review? What has your experience with the game been like? Let us know!


    Here, here! This echoes my thoughts on the game down to the tee, especially the sentiment about the ending. Great review.

      My thoughts exactly only replace "the sentiment about the ending" with "the sentiment about Bernie".

      Bernie did not look or sound (horrible voice btw) as she was portrayed in the books.


    maybe its just because you played it with bots, but hardcore 4 player is pretty damn tough.

    bots seem to soak up a crap load of bullets before they go down - but thats not the case for human players.

    the final boss fight was ridiculously hard, and if you look it up you can see easily just how many people are struggling with it! i have no idea how you did not die at least once on it.. youre completely swarmed with enemies while having an unknown timelimit to kill the queen

      There's a time limit?

        When the queeny-thing is bashing on the towery thing, if you let it go for too long, you get insta-killed.

        (I had a lot of trouble with that section, with a few of my deaths the fault of glitches :/)

      I played a public game, so I had people dropping in and out. I had two human players and a bot for the last fight and had no troubles. That being said, if you're partners are anything like some of the strangers I've played Horde with recently: being revived in a timely manner would prove problematic.

    Not sure if it was because I went through the campaign on hardcore co-op or not but the AI almost never helped with revives making life very difficult at times especially for the final boss fight. Also, does anyone know if they scale enemy numbers and such based on the number of human players?

    Might I also add - do not waste your money on the Steelbook edition of the game. You get a pretty steelbook, a "Gears logo" sticker and a piece of paper that says "download the full manual here".

    For the extra $15 or so you pay for the edition, you're better off putting that cash towards the Season Pass, you'll get more for your money.

    Has to be the worst 'special edition' of a game I've ever paid for.

      Steelbook editions are generally just that. A copy of a game in a steel case. What were you expecting?

        Every other Gears steelbook has included other junk - like an artbook, "cog" tags, redeemable ingame codes.

        Other steelbooks I have include developer diaries/videos/etc on a disc, audio soundtrack, themes and icons.

        Its all particularly worthless, but it at least feels like value for money, especially when they give away all the ingame content for beta testers.

        A printed manual is not too much to expect.

          that would be a limited edition, which normally come with a steelbook.

          the gears 3 limited edition doesnt have a steelbook, so they made a steelbook edition for those who like to collect them - which is just a steelbook

        I had a steelbook edition of Ratatouille.

        There was a cardboard slip on the outside of the case, the steel case and then the normal DVD case inside. All with identical artwork.

      I didn't want to go all-out on an epic edition, but I did buy the edition that comes with the Adam Fenix medal display box. I'm very happy with my purchase - you get a presentation box for the Cog-shaped Oculus medal (which also has a DLC code for the Adam Fenix multiplayer skin disguised as an engraved serial number on the reverse side), a Delta squad unit flag (small but nice), some stickers and documentation in line with the steelbook edition of Gears 2 - some photos, Last Will and Testament for Adam Fenix, Hammer of Dawn sattelite schematics, etc.

      Sidenote, I still have my Cog-tags preorder bonus from Gears 1 hanging on my bookshelf. Also, because I prodered my Gears 3 from JB I got a Marcus Fenix wallscroll. Bodgy quality but I didn't even know I was getting it. It's better than nothing.

        This is value for money.

        Steelbook edition is not. ;)

    Did anyone else notice that turrent has bayonets!!!!


      I guess you haven't played the game yet... this is explained in the campaign ;)

    A nice review and I agree basically with every point.

    My biggest disappointment with the game is that TDM and DM have devolved yet again into an endless succession of shotgun kills. "That Old Dance" as you call it has returned with a vengeance.

    Thankfully the excellent Horde mode makes up for it.

    Im disgruntled with Horde.
    I barely played Horde in Gears 2, but was loving it in Gears 3.
    Had a number of games and never got past level 20, due to shit teams, people leaving, whatever.
    Then, the other night, four of us started playing. I got myself a Silverback at level 9 and kept it right through to level 50!
    By about level 35 one of our players left, so us remaining three made it all the way to level 50 without any restarts!
    Then we got smashed. Lost the Silverback. Team wiped.
    We restarted level 50, the three of us, barely any cash. . . it was an almost instant wipe again.
    We quit. I cried. Cant bring myself to trying again.

      I myself am having the same issues with Horde mode, having only completed lvl 20 once. When the majority of the players dont have a mic you know you are in for a bad game.

      The biggest problems Im seeing at the moment are people setting up a 2nd command post and upgrading to laser barriers too early in the game. It stretches the budget too thin, making it next to impossible to manage the base.

      Im guessing the correct way to play is to upgrade a single area and bank as much money as possible in case the team does get wiped out and you need to start again.

        People want those Founder ribbons, hence the additional command posts. Best I did was level 40 with a group of 4. I gave all my cash to a resourceful young man who levelled a Silverback and kept me relatively safe. After we lost the vehicle though, I had a very similar experience to warcroft.

          Lack of communication, poor selection of initial command post and overspend in early rounds are the biggest problems in Horde I think. Also rage quitting after failing a boss wave seems all the rage now as well.

          I am yet to get past round 30 but will persist.

            You guys do realise that you keep the money you make in the round, even if you all get killed. Level 50 can be incredibly hard, especially if you get two Berserkers, but you can just concentrate on the smaller enemies to get cash and just save it up over multiple rounds.

            I love Horde mode in Gears 3, played a lot in Gears 2, but they've added something extra special in 3. If you need a hand with Horde then friend request away to Smoolander.

      All fortifications can be rebuild even if you are low on cash (they look red), it just takes all the money you have left, this can keep the silverback on map even if its destroyed, that way you can keep making some money on rounds you are stuck.

    Sick, makes me want to play it so bad.

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