When Epic Games released the first “Gears of War” in 2006, it garnered a fair amount of praise, particularly due to its unique cover system. Having sold well, the game was given a sequel in 2008 with “Gears of War 2,” which, due to a number of problems in both the single player campaign and the competitive multiplayer modes, was viewed as a bit of a disappointment. As such, it is refreshing to see the variety of enhancements that come with the final game in the trilogy, “Gears of War 3,” including an exciting single player campaign and an entirely new suite of competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes.
The campaign mode, set 18 months after the events of “Gears of War 2,” reunites gamers with former Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) soldier Marcus Fenix and his fellow “Gears” Dom, Baird and Cole. Following the end of the previous game, the last COG stronghold on the planet Sera has been destroyed, leaving the planet’s dwindling human population to break apart and in the struggle to survive against the menacing Locust Horde and the equally-devastating Lambent swarm. Marcus and the others lead a seemingly hopeless attempt to survive the war, until they receive a message from Marcus’ long-thought-deceased father, Adam Fenix. Adam claims to have found a way to destroy both the Lambent and the Locust in one fell swoop, though he needs Marcus and his friends to rescue him. Over the course of the 8-to-10-hour campaign, Marcus and company meet a number of characters both old and new, with some of the most notable new faces being fellow soldiers Anya, Sam and Jace, as well as energy supplier Aaron Griffin. The campaign is action-packed and manages to put an end to the “Gears of War” story arc in a satisfying way that still leaves room for exploration in possible sequels or novelizations. For players new to the series, the game also has a “Previously in Gears” video that the general information needed to enjoy the story.
The game also features an improved suite of multiplayer options. In addition to the improved competitive multiplayer than fans have come to expect, players can progress through the entire campaign in four-player cooperative play. The popular “Horde” co-op mode, in which players must defeat waves of Locust enemies, returns with a number of enhancements alongside a brand-new “Beast” mode that is basically the Horde mode in reverse; in it, players control Locust creatures and must hunt down human characters in various waves in order to progress. There is also a ranking system across both single and multiplayer modes that is similar to the “perks” system popularized by the “Call of Duty” franchise; as players complete certain tasks, they can unlock new characters and weapon models to use in multiplayer.
While the overall game is fantastic, there are still some minor glitches to be found, particularly in the single player campaign. Whether these can be fixed in a future title update is uncertain, though they should be kept in mind when purchasing the game for the time being.
As a whole, “Gears of War 3” not only lives up to its predecessors but outdoes them by providing both a strong story and a variety of multiplayer options. Whether Epic Games decides to create yet another sequel is uncertain, though for the time being, one thing is clear: as “Gears of War 3” proves, good things really do come in threes.