Gears of War 3 may very well be the best cooperative gaming experience of all time.
CONFESSION: While I didn’t pick up the original Gears of War on “emergence day” as soon as I got around to playing it I realized that there was something about the game’s blend of action and tactics that set it apart from all other games in the genre. Over the years I’ve beaten both GOW campaigns with a wide various friends, family, and strangers, and still find the experience to be deeply satisfying. While some of the systems introduced in the original GOW were still in their relative infancy, the overall Gears experience was always spectacular. After playing a lot of Gears 3 over the past week I can honestly say that the Gears 1 and 2 were just an appitizer for the feast that is Gears of War 3.
CAMPAIGN: Since the game’s release I’ve played through the 13 hour campaign twice. My first play through was done in a single sitting with a lot of caffeine, some junk food, and a total social media blackout. Having the story spoiled would have broken my nerdy heart, so I opted to lock myself away and plow through the campaign as fast as possible. My second play-through was even more enjoyable as I played with my wife (who has become an impressive sniper) and two close friends. . I can honestly say that Gears of War 3 campaign is the best co-op experience you can have on a console. With bountiful weapon variety, incredible tactical options, and a system that promotes team work, I can’t urge you enough to give this game a shot. Players that found the cooperative experience from earlier Gears games a bit too harrowing will be happy to hear that companion A.I. is better than ever before. Bots now act more realistically and can effectively use all weapon types. I don’t think I ever had to shout “Dom.. get the FU#% out of my way!“…. which is really saying something.
STORY: The Gears universe recently got a shot of story-adrenaline in the form of author Karen Traviss who penned four excellent Gears novels as well as Gears of War 3. While it is not integral to have read the GOW novels before playing the latest game installment, it does add an incredible amount of depth and back story to even the most obscure characters. Karen Traviss does a phenomenal job making these superhuman men and women have very real personalities and motivations. For instance, while Gears of War 3 does feature series regular Col. Hoffman, his true personality, inner-turmoil, and motivations are only available for those willing to read well over 1000 pages of GOW back story. Do you HAVE to have read the novels to enjoy the story of Gears 3? No, but it sure makes it the games even more incredible. The story in Gears 3 will change what we come to expect from action game narratives. As I’ve previously stated, gone are the days of a silent protagonist roaming an endless cooridor with a B.F.G. . Taking place shortly after the sinking of mankind’s last great city Jacinto, things are looking quite grim for humanity. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) has fallen apart with its leader, Chairman Prescott, vanishing to places unknown. The rest you’ll have to uncover for yourself.
GAMEPLAY: Epic games has truly become the masters of 3rd person action gaming, and while things like regenerating health, and a cover mechanic did indeed exist prior to Gears of War, Cliffy B and the folks at Epic polished and refined this to an insane level of perfection. There is a certain indescribable awesomeness to the weapons that exist within the GOW universe. Where else can you find assault rifles so big and intimidating that an average human like myself couldn’t even fathom firing it. People in the gaming industry refer to the look and feel of these virtual weapons as “crunch”, and folks, the weapons in GOW:3 are quite crunchy indeed. Virtually all of the old guns are back with various tweaks and modifications. The Hammerburst for example now can be fired using iron-sites (a first for the series) to tackle long ranged enemies. New weapons such as the Vulcan cannon are so incredibly large that they require two players to fire with any effect. The sound of the gun tearing through hordes of enemies is almost worth the $60.00 price tag in and of itself. Virtually every aspect of the game-play has improved from weapon “crunch” to character movement and environment interaction. Once you understand how the game is played it becomes a beautiful ballet of ultra violence.
MULTIPLAYER: Dedicated servers mean the end of the dreaded “host advantage” as well as a 100% lag free gaming experience. If the wide variety of competitive multiplayer matches aren’t your your thing, there is always horde 2.0 which adds a small layer of tower defense to the already stellar cooperative experience. Unlike previous Gears titles, players can now unlock a wide variety of characters, weapon models, badges, titles and mutators to add that addictive “carrot” that keeps players returning to titles like Call of Duty. All of the multiplayer modes are a total blast and promote team-work and group cohesion.
NERD APPROPRIATE: What makes Gears of War one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time? The answer is simple, friends. The ability to experience such a spectacular and polished adventure with my closest friends is what makes Gears 3 one of the best console games of this generation. Incredible gameplay, voice acting, level design, score, and narrative make me fully realize the power of well executed AAA publishing. Gears of War 3 is hereby dubbed… Nerd Appropriate.