Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360

The epic story concludes.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
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Gears of War defined a console generation, but in 2011 it has almost become a victim of its own success. The signature third-person cover system has become commonplace, and plenty of its tropes have become weary from third-party overuse, such as the needless mini-cutscenes that play out as your team break through locked doors. Yet when all is said and done, and everything has been torn open by chainsaw, torque bow and shotgun, it's clear Epic's third entry in its flagship series has far more meat on its bulky bones than the legion of imitators.

All of humanity's splintered remnants, including the women, have taken to the chest-high battlefields of Sera, these grunting hulks of sinew and muscle wheeled out for the trilogy's explosive conclusion. Yet underneath this buoyant machismo Epic plays its hand with an incredible modesty, crafting careful set pieces, nimble environments, and an intimate and considered suite of multiplayer modes.

Even though Gears of War 3 rarely plays it straight - it's a game that proudly features lines such as "speaking scientifically, we're gonna blow its brains out its ass" across its lengthy 10 hour campaign - the third chapter's denouement triggers a downbeat shift in tone so significant that even Damon Baird and Augustus Cole (undoubtedly gaming's best odd couple) temporarily halt their wisecracking smack talk.

The game's campaign is of impeccable quality and solid construction, though Epic is clearly not pushing its considerable talents when it comes to creative level design. On one hand this is preferable, and it's easy to say good riddance to the fiddly vehicle sequences that blighted the first two games, but it's also a shame that there isn't the adventure and variety of Gears of War 2's Rockworm, or the controllable cover of the Locust burrow.

An early opening sequence in Hanover is a notable exception, with Cole walking through the nostalgia-filled alleys and supermarkets of the town where he was once a superstar. In a brilliant juxtaposition that's either the result of fluke or genius, the game flicks from a surprisingly tender moment of recollection (and I never thought I'd attribute such a sentiment to the bombastic exaggeration that is the Cole Train) to a sequence played successfully for laughs. It's a wonderful moment.

Much of the five-act campaign revolves around a simple thematic question: with the world completely ruined, what is left that's worth fighting for? Each of the bulging ensemble cast has their own answer: Marcus soldiers onwards for his father, Baird and Cole do it for the comic relief, whereas stalwart sidekick Dom plods onward without purpose after the events of the second game. Clayton Carmine, whose fate Microsoft has expressly forbade me to divulge, does it for the sweet kills.

Alongside the fist bumps, biceps and brouhaha lies a deeply personal story - both design director Cliff Bleszinski and production director Rod Fergusson have spoken candidly about the impact of their fathers (or lack thereof) on their lives, and the third Gears of War finally brings those affectations, bubbling underneath the surface for two games, to the forefront of the campaign. Basically, Gears of War 3 is a tale of headshots and family.

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User Comments

SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Hell yeah,
I didn't even really like GoW2,
but you somehow got me excited for this.
Posted 11:15 on 16 September 2011
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ squidman

Cheers Martin. Just hope you know the badge I gave you is a compliment. :)

Look forward to hearing your opinions and hope to see you online for a little Gears 3 soon! I smell a staff vs forum night?

I did set up a page when the game got announced to give you guys plenty of time to get sorted lol.

Thread
Posted 08:38 on 16 September 2011
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ Karlius

Not everything has a deeper meaning, but I sort of know what you mean. What I meant is that if Tom reviews a game and Martin reviews a game they might have slightly different tastes, so if the technical aspects are as good as each other, the balance comes from any personal influence over what the reviewer thought about that game.
Posted 21:08 on 15 September 2011
squidman's Avatar

squidman

Thanks for the comments guys! I don't get wheeled out to do quite so many reviews these days, but working on Gears 3 was a definite job highlight for me. That said, I'm trying to play it online at the moment and it's absolutely infested with smarmy professionals that are far too bloody good for a moderate-level player like me to deal with. Maybe I'll see some of you guys online during launch week?

To answer some questions:

@scaz2244

Levels aren't so much more open in terms of actually having more room to manoeuvre around in, but there's a lot more bright outside areas so it definitely seems a little less claustrophobic. There's nothing quite as murky and compact as the Nexus, for instance.

@pblive

It's a good question. It's a very high 9, I'll give it that - it just didn't have that little touch of magic to tip it over into a 10, if you know what I mean. And, as somebody who actually is supposed to be able to quantify these qualities for a living, I can appreciate how much of an twat saying something like 'a touch of magic' makes me sound.

@Karlius

Cheers dude! I will wear the "most critical of reviewers" as a badge of pride. It'll go nicely with "the UK's most sarcastic games journalist", which I picked up at gamescom.

I haven't played Resistance 3 yet, but it's pretty much next on my list of games to bosh off. I've heard the campaign is fantastic. Give me a couple of weeks and I'll tell you what I think. It's blatantly obvious that Gears 3 is a vastly superior multiplayer game, however; R3 is dogged with wonky lag and silly framerate issues, and other *****e like that.

I also completely agree when you say it would have been nice if Tom covered Gears of War 3. Unfortunately some scheduling conflicts got in the way of that happening.

@ReadySteadyGo

The sawed-off shotgun is still kicking about, if that's what you meant. It's incredibly frustrating at first but I think veteran players are able to shrug it off now. I think the gnasher is still the choice for the pros. Pearson uses the gnasher.

Oh, and both Resistance and Resistance 2 had multiplayer modes, which means (provided you exclude the Unreal pedigree) both Insomniac and Epic have had the same around of go arounds ;)
Posted 20:39 on 15 September 2011
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ IndoorHeroes

Dude, I don't think ReadySteadyGo is Seb...
Posted 20:12 on 15 September 2011
IndoorHeroes's Avatar

IndoorHeroes

S'alright - makes sense. Defo more interested in Gears multi. Still don't know if I will though. Gears 1 multiplayer almost tore our friend circle assunder in third year. Remember Sadsy's rage quits? Scary.
Posted 17:25 on 15 September 2011
ReadySteadyGo's Avatar

ReadySteadyGo@ IndoorHeroes

Yeah I did sorry :P
Posted 16:59 on 15 September 2011
IndoorHeroes's Avatar

IndoorHeroes

Did you get that the wrong way round sebby? Gears 3 multi surely superior since they've had 2 additional go rounds to perfect it.
Posted 16:39 on 15 September 2011
ReadySteadyGo's Avatar

ReadySteadyGo

Also the fact that Resistence 2 was single player only and not taking into account it's MP features.
I wouldn't* be very suprised if the Gears 3 MP was better than Resitence 3 MP.

Edit* Sorry my mistake
Posted 16:23 on 15 September 2011
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

The other aspect of the review score that needs to be taken into consideration is that since the previous games were scored games have evolved so just because they were worthy of a 10 back then are they worthy of a 10 by todays standards. The bar gets raised year after year, which again proves how the number at the end actually means very little more than a guide line!
Posted 16:19 on 15 September 2011
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ pblive

Raph!
Posted 16:10 on 15 September 2011
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ pblive

Was looking for a deeper answer not a gloss over. As Martin didn't review Resistance 3 would he of placed it as highly or more highly than Gears 3 and the same could be asked of Tom as he reviewed Resistance and the other 2 Gears games.

In my own opinion while I believe Martins review is fantastic and flawless I think Tom maybe should of reviewed this game as it would have been more relative to past iterations of the game.
Posted 14:21 on 15 September 2011
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ Karlius

The answer is probably 'whatever you like more'. If technically two games are very similar it all comes down to personal preference.

It's like asking 'which Ninja Turtle is best?'. :)
Posted 14:02 on 15 September 2011
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

When Martin gives a game a 9/10 it pretty much means that it's superb. I personally believe he is the most critical of reviewers and rarely gives out a 10/10. No doubt in my mind that this game would of got higher if reviewed on someone else's scale. (TU Guyderman.)

However I respect Martin for sticking to his guns as when he does think something is worthy of a 10/10 it means more.

Reviews are a personal appreciation of something and just because the previous games got 10/10 by other reviewers here and Martin suggests this is the best game in the series yet doesn't take away from his justification of the score.

What I would like from Martin is an answer to this Resistance 3 just got a 9/10 so did this game but which is better? 2 exclusives console battling out surely there has to be an answer.
Posted 13:58 on 15 September 2011
newbie's Avatar

newbie

Cool game, cool review!
Posted 13:10 on 15 September 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Gears of War 3
9
Out of 10
Gears of War 3
  • Cole Train
  • Excellent mechanics
  • Incredible amount of modes and maps
  • Solid campaign
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Release Date: 20/09/2011
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: Third-person shooter
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 1,055 176
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