Stepping it up a gear


Title: Gears of War 3

Developers: Epic Games

Publishers: Microsoft Studios

Platform(s): Xbox 360

Release date: Out now

The makers of Gears of War have lived up to their promise of outdoing themselves with the third instalment of the series, writes Maitiú Mac Seoin

In Gears of War 3, you fight as a hyperbolically-macho soldier against a tide of subterranean aggressors, known only as the Locust. At the close of the last game, the main character, Marcus Fenix, succeeded in destroying the underground cities of the Locust, but at the cost of collapsing the last remaining human city in the process. At the opening of Gears 3, the scattered remnants of humanity are surviving on boats or in ruined, burnt out cities, and the campaign actually feels like you’re rounding up the last remains of the Locust horde and trying to secure a place for the humans to rebuild.

Visually, the game is stunning; the attention to detail in every shattered window and every bombed-out city street is something to behold. The character’s animations are also smooth and realistic; ducking, jumping, rolling and climbing all look and feel fluid and maintain the physicality we’ve come to expect from the series.

The basic run-and-gun formula of the series has not changed since the first game, but why changes something that works? Running from cover to cover and trying to outflank the enemy is fluid and has a satisfying feel to it. The AI has had a major overhaul; you will often find yourself sneaking up on an enemy, only to find that they’ve already snuck up behind you.

The real fun, however, comes from taking your play online. Competitive multiplayer is always fun, but the best moments come from the other modes, ‘Horde Mode’ – where you and three friends try to hold your ground against increasing waves of enemies – has been refined since the last game. With the addition of ‘Beast Mode’, where you play as one of the Locust, assaulting the dug-in human defenders, Gears of War 3 is one of the most complete gaming packages around. And if you’re not one to be impressed by the added nuance and immersive game-play, there’s a chainsaw on your gun. What’s not to love?

The game is blighted by minor – yet distracting – glitches, but on the whole, these faults do not affect the overall gaming experience. Gears of War 3 is one of the most polished and refined games Otwo has seen in a long time.