Rev’d Up – ‘Gears of War 3’ Review

With Xbox One backwards compatibility on the horizon, lets take another look at the gritty finale to the Marcus Fenix trilogy.

Because of the Games With Gold Program, Gears of War 3 is now available for all Xbox Live Gold subscribers. For that reason, Bear Claw Gaming will reexamine this brutal third-person shooter to determine just how worthwhile it is by today’s standards.

Campaign

Gears of War 3, despite being the final chapter in the Marcus Fenix trilogy, still hosts an accessible story for all gamers regardless of if they’ve played the predecessors. That being said, the game will be an all-around better experience if you know the characters and background that supports the game, so I suggest you watch the IGN video below as a way to recap everything that happened prior to Gears 3. For obvious reasons, the video is spoiler heavy so watch at your own risk.

So now that we’re all on the same page, we can get into the core of Gears of War 3‘s campaign. Although this game feels like the humans are finally beating the Locust, there’s is something undeniably desperate about how the story unfolds. Every decision Delta squad makes feels like a big one, and Epic Games isn’t afraid to knock out fan-favorite characters this time around.

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The campaign can be beaten in about ten hours, and it ultimately leads to decent if not too open-ended conclusion. Despite many thinking it was the end of the franchise, it seems they left just enough unanswered questions for them to make more games in the future. Along the way, you’ll be accompanied by plenty of awesome fan service. Prepare for Marcus’ gruff one-liners, Dom’s foolish bravery, Baird’s smart ass comments and Cole Train’s Thrashball nostalgia. Because the game puts the spotlight on each member of Delta, Gears of War 3 feels like the most human story in the Marcus Fenix trilogy. Instead of being a gory adventure with a gaggle of dude-bros, Gears of War 3 makes you feel a lot more than previous titles.

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Keeping it brief, the Gears of War 3 campaign is a great finale to the long-running story, and it has countless beautiful, expansive set-pieces that keep the gameplay fresh and engaging. Although ten hours is a bit of a commitment for a game centered around blowing enemies into red goo, Gears of War 3 is well-worth playing to conclusion.

Multiplayer

Gears of War 3 hosts the most accessible multiplayer component of any of the games in the trilogy. New players can still find ways to get better and perfect the art of active reload while experts can run the battlefield. Unlike the predecessors, Gears 3 aims much harder for team play tactics, so even if you are new to multiplayer, you’ll find yourself ranking up simply for playing the objective and getting kill assists.

The multiplayer is also much more expansive than Gears and Gears 2. There are two shotguns and two assault rifles the player can start with, and there are probably near a dozen weapon pick-ups placed around maps that keep gameplay fresh. To keep you playing, the ranking up experience is much better in Gears of War 2. As you rank up, you’ll periodically unlock achievements and you’ll even unlock awesome new characters to play as.

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In addition to competitive multiplayer, the horde mode popularized by Gears 2 makes a triumphant and expansive return. On top of that, there’s another wave-based co-op experience call Beast Mode which reverses the roll of Horde where you get to play as the Locust. I found this mode more interesting than the actual horde mode because it allow you to play as the various types of locust which makes for some awesome gameplay. Playing as a ticker and trying to sneak behind unsuspecting soldiers never gets old. Horde and Beast Mode add another layer of awesome value to the Gears of War 3 package, and they’re well-worth your time if you have a few buddies to play with.

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To put how addictive Gears multiplayer is into perspective: in order to do this review, I started playing in late June, and because of the multiplayer, I have barely touched my Xbox One or PS4 since. If you only play one part of the Gears of War 3 package, let it be the incredibly addictive and competitive multiplayer. Few games are as well balanced as this one!

Graphics, Audio & Performance

As you can see from the screenshots, Gears of War 3 is a beautiful game despite being pretty old by gaming standards. One of the big things that shocked me upon picking the game up again is how well the visuals have held up even compared to next-gen standards. Once it becomes backwards compatible, you’ll have no problem having Gears 3 fit in with the rest of you Xbox One games.

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The audio is fantastic in Gears of War 3. Headshots give out repulsing but satisfying spraying noises, executions feel powerful and each gun sounds distinct from one another. If you’re using a Boomshot or a Boltok Pistol, you feel the weight and power of each shot. Because the graphics are so great in Gears 3, it could be easy to overlook the game’s audio. If you ever sit back and listen, though, you’ll hear a wide array of big, satisfying sounds.

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As far as performance goes, Gears 3 holds up pretty well. There are a few big set piece moments in the campaign that make the Xbox 360 slug a bit, but in the multiplayer everything feels rock solid, which is where framerate really matters. I have, however, noticed slight frame judder and screen tearing occasionally in multiplayer. Nothing game breaking by any means, and I didn’t notice any until I started looking for performance issues for this review. To keep it brief, despite a few hiccups in singleplayer, Gears of War 3 looks, sounds and plays well on the decade-old hardware it was built for.

Verdict

Gears of War 3 is a fantastic game that is stuffed to the gills with content for the player to enjoy. Whether you want a gritty story about human experience, competitive multiplayer or addictive co-op with friends, Gears 3 has you covered. Trumped only by Halo 4, no Xbox 360 game has ever looked as good as Gears 3 while also maintaining a quality gaming experience. With Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to dive back into the franchise and work off your rusty Gnasher shotgun skills.

Even if you no longer own an Xbox 360, pick up Gears 3 from the Xbox Marketplace so you can download this fantastic package as soon as its available through backwards compatibility.

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