Gears of War 3
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2011-09-27 Xbox 360 Shooter M (Mature) Epic / Microsoft

With so many franchises, it seems that each sequel released is more mundane, or less adventurous than the last. Satisfied by playing it safe, developers go for the easy money, rather than trying to push the boundaries of what we expect from them. Luckily, with Gears of War 3, none of that applies, as we have a game more polished and more downright fun than the two that preceded it, with enough content to last you months after you’ve seen the way the story concludes.

Speaking of, Gears 3 sees you resuming your role as Marcus Fenix, stranded with your team and a few survivors on an ocean battleship. Lambent stalks are seen rising from the oceanic depths, and food and supplies are scarce. It's a constant fight for survival, though most aboard the ship seem to have become complacent; after all, the Lambent haven't been seen in quite some time... that is, until you find yourself deep in Lambent waters, and they decide to strike once again.

The game becomes a flurry of action early on, with the same polished cover-based gameplay returning. If more needs to be said, you'll be able to swap between four weapons at a time, with map-based or enemy weapons also being free for your use. Lambent stalks contain pods that must be destroyed before they'll stop spawning (at least for the time being), and the variety of these infected-Locust increases all of the time, resulting in some truly nasty, giant glowing beasts.

Environmental variety is pretty high once again, seeing you invading Locust strongholds both above and underground, defending a human fort, or even taking part in the obligatory driving mission with the new Vulcan cannon.

There's a strategy to defeating some enemies (like the game's massive bosses), as you'll expect, but depending on your difficulty level, you can just as easily run in, balls to the wall, and melee everything in sight depending on your own preferred play style. The game's story lasts somewhere in the neighborhood of eight hours, giving you much more of the backstory surrounding Marcus's father Adam Fenix, and his research before E-Day, and of course, the Locust show up early on as well, presenting you with specific instances where you'll fight both at once, making an already hectic situation all the more so.

While the storyline does offer a very satisfying end to the trilogy, if you played the Gears 3 beta earlier this year, you'll know first-hand that the game is about so much more than that. Yet again, the multiplayer is as big of a draw as the single-player experience, with the Sawed-Off Shotgun and Retro Lancer adding even more weapon variety to your available catalog. While the multiplayer portion of the game could receive its own review, I'll leave it at this: some of the maps are fantastic (Checkout being my personal favorite), with plenty of cover or nooks and crannies within which to strategize, while others are fairly disappointing (Mercy, I'm looking at you).

Regardless of the maps you prefer, or even the gameplay types (Team Deathmatch, Horde, Beast, King of the Hill, etc.) there's something here for everyone. You'll unlock dozens of ribbons and medals as you complete specific actions repeatedly or just perform to high standards in each match, and even the main storyline's Arcade mode allows you to play in up-to-four-player co-op for some more multiplayer fun (while earning points and rewards at the same time, of course).

With Gears 3, there's so much going on that it can initially seem daunting. However, the game itself is so polished, so gorgeous and so satisfying in almost every element that it should easily be found on most any Game of the Year list ending this year. Whether you're a fan of the game's single player, or just enjoy tearing apart other real world players, Gears or War 3 will have you playing for weeks and months to come.