The human race has all gone tits up, basically. After the messy nonsense of Gears of War 2's ending, the third game - which we've already covered the multiplayer of - starts with a fractured and splintered humanity pushed to its very limits. Even Chairman Prescott has upped and buggered off to greener pastures, entirely abandoning the COG remnants, who are now living at sea on a flotilla of ships to avoid the problematic (and explosively gooey) lambent Locust horde. What kind of a leader is that, huh? You certainly wouldn't see David Cameron swanning about on holiday while his citize-- oh.
Anyway, Delta Squad is now living on the CNV Sovereign. Marcus is tormented by funny dreams about his missing father, Dom has grown a beard and taken up gardening, and Anya is now more than the pouty voice at the end of a Tac-Com.
Chapter 1, Anchored, is your basic orientation - you meet the cast, you go over the basic controls, and Anya takes the expository role to fill you in on everything that's been going on since you were last here. What this basically means is that the old Locust you fought in the first two games have now been replaced by the glowy ones, who now mutate, grow blobs and tendrils, and aren't nearly as satisfying to chainsaw because they explode. Oh, and they attack the ship.
While I can't say this for certain, either, I'm 200 per cent confident the regular Locust will make an appearance before the game's half-way point.
Still, right now it's all about the Lambent. Much of your time at this point is spent fighting regular grunts and new Polyp beasts - basically glowing mutant spider-things that you need to shoot before they get up close and personal. They're fiddly, but not nearly as destructive as Gears of War 2's Tickers.
The CNV Sovereign is well and truly screwed by the time Chapter 2, aptly titled Abandon Ship, rolls around, with Delta Squad now attempting to get off the ship. Oh, and Prescott turns up and promises to answer lots of questions about Marcus' father. Questions such as: what exactly is the deal with Marcus' father?
Still, there are bigger issues - such as the massive Lambent Leviathan trying to kill everybody. You'll remember the Leviathan from Gears of War 2 - it was the boss you killed by running inside its mouth and throwing loads of grenades at its throat. This one, however, can only be blasted in the eyes - and it needs Baird and Cole to turn up and drop an entire crate of Tickers on its face to be put down.
As you head into Chapter 3, titled Homecoming, the clock goes backwards a few hours and the cast switches to Gears' most prominent odd couple - Baird and Cole - alongside series newcomers Clayton Carmine and Sam, the latter voiced by Claudia Black.
The quartet is seeking supplies in Hanover, Cole's old hometown. Hanover's streets look like they've been plucked from a sepia-tinged Victorian photograph, with cobbled roads, delicate arches, and ornate street lamps combining to make a picture-perfect suburban area, provided you can ignore all the unsightly ruin. It's the kind of place you would have moved out of London to start a family in before Emergence Day, but now Lambent stalks burst out of a derelict playground, spewing glowies all over the scene, and mix the sounds of frenzied Lancer fire with rusty swings and derelict roundabouts.
Moving into the buildings, however, transitions the charming outdoor scene into massive American supermarkets, with long aisles plentifully dotted with advertising and cardboard cut-outs of Cole in his glory days - he's kind of a big deal, you know.
Heading into the fourth chapter, Helping Hand, and the citizens of Hanover are all too happy to hand over their supplies to Cole, eventually leading to an oddly touching scene where Cole opens his old Thrashball locker and fondly recalls his life before E-Day. Thankfully, Epic quickly plops in a whole load of Lambent nasties for you to chainsaw instead of getting all emotional and growing a big sad beard like Dom or something.
This leads to the fifth chapter, MVP, which is a massive boss fight. And I won't spoil it.
Despite the bombast and bravado - which Gears of War 3 clearly has in spades - the things that impressed me most are the little details. I love how much obvious effort has gone into the creation of its world, and I'm especially fond of how Epic is responding to former criticisms by using a far wider colour palette in the third game.
There's clearly been no expense spared for Gears of War 3, and while I think it can be difficult to get excited for such a known quantity it's hard not to remember why the first two games were so significant as soon as you pick up your Lancer for the third time.