Gears of War is a franchise that has truly rocked the Xbox 360’s generation. Taking off in 2006 with a ferocious start due to the highly acclaimed ‘Mad World’ trailer, it shaped the nature of Xbox Live multiplayer, became the greatest influence for cover shooters gaming has ever seen, and showed just how far Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 could go – but like all good things, Gears of War’s story (for the trilogy at least) has come to a close, and Epic have not let it go without a bang.
Things are almost always looking grim for humanity in the Gears games, but this time it’s worse than ever; following the sinking of the last inland stronghold of Jacinto, what remains of the COG lives on huge carrier ships in the sea, and attempts to win back ground are held off by constant attacks by the unrelenting Lambent. To make things worse, it isn’t long until the Locust crawl their way out of the dirt, causing a three-way war which ravages the remains of the planet.
The key for survival appears to be with Marcus’s father, previously thought dead – and it’s in this plot direction that we see Epic’s new goal for Gears of War: to form an emotional connection with the player. It perhaps wouldn’t be expected to work in a game where characters have bigger biceps than brains, but the sequences showing Cole’s past, the fraternity of Dom and Marcus, and the secrets and sacrifice of Adam Fenix are all outstandingly emotive, like nothing seen before in the series.
Of course, this is still Gears of War, and while an 8-hour adventure of blood, sweat and gratuitous blood and swearing hits the spot for some, there are plenty who come entirely for the multiplayer. Fortunately, after Gears 2’s disappointments, Epic have come out on top. Horde mode is revamped and better than ever, now with added RPG elements and a money system, and versus is reworked and rebalanced (with the exception of a certain sawn-off shotgun) on an excellent selection of maps.
New to the fray is Beast mode, which pits players fighting as the Locust against AI humans, having to take out waves of them as quickly as possible. It’s interesting, if not a little easy and short.
The Gears of War games need no introduction; they do what they say on the tin, and they do them incredibly well. The third and final of the trilogy might not do a whole lot new, but it capitalises on everything that has been learnt along the way, and when it comes down to it, is about as good as third-person cover shooters come.
Published by: Microsoft Studios
Developed by: Epic Games
Available On: Xbox 360