Epic Games have not quite lived up to their name in the final instalment of the Gears of War series. Rather than being daring and innovate, a fresh twist on the five year old franchise, they opted for the “if it ain’t broke…” approach. By playing it safe they’ve still delivered one of the best games this year, but any Gears fan no matter how fanatic won’t help but feel a touch of déjà vu which will undermine the experience.
This feeling will hit hardest during the campaign, which on the harder difficulties clocks in at about fifteen hours. This would have been a welcome step up from the relatively short Gears 2, but the fact that there are only a few new added weapons, (including an Easter egg “Cluckshot” which you can grab on insane mode only) and with the cover based mechanics practically unchanged, it all feels a little bit “Groundhog Day”, bar a few set pieces which feature three way fights between you, the Locust and fresh feeling enemies the Lambent (a feral form of Locust and Humans mutated by Imulsion).
The story brings the trilogy to a close in typical depressing fashion; the C.O.G has been disbanded and the heroes are left to either brave the mainland or risk the seas, until Marcus receives word that his father is not only alive, but conveniently has a solution to end the war. The game’s twists vary from obvious to quite clever, but one from the third act is genuinely quite emotional.
The tagline “Brothers to the End” seems a little bit hollow, as most of the cast survive this final chapter in classic Hollywood fashion, and talks of further franchising and downloadable content ensured a climax which was about as satisfying as eating your own hair.
It’s not at all disappointment though; Horde has been completely overhauled, and has become even more addictive. Now you get cash for kills and spend that cash on fortifications; everything from barbed-wire fences to the Silverbacks that make Robocop look like a Wilko’s toaster. With friends it becomes something which more than makes up for the hollow campaign. The new “Beast Mode”, which is essentially Horde in reverse, is equally as brilliant. Multiplayer is much the same as previous games, the only real differences are the maps.
Gears of War 3 is very much a retread in most ways, but its tweaks and improvements make it well worth your forty quid.