In terms of multiplayer action, Gears 3 builds on the strong foundations of Gears 2. The competitive modes still feel unlike any FPS game; the nature of the gameplay makes it a game of slow builds and sudden bursts of violence. It’s the co-op modes, however, where Gears 3 really shines. The tuning of the campaign to four-player co-op works impressively well, while Horde mode – where players work together to beat wave after wave of Locust beasties – is still one of the best experiences of its type, beating CoD’s Zombies mode and Halo: Reach’s Firefight mode thanks to its rich Locust bestiary and brilliant weapons, and matching F.E.A.R. 3’s excellent Contraction mode for tension.
However, Gears 3 has a new treat in store: Beast mode. Turning Horde on its head, it’s all about wiping out the muscle-bound Gears and humans as a member of the Locust horde. You start off with a few basic Locust forms to choose from, and the more you hurl yourself against the human barricades, slashing and blasting at their puny flesh, the more interesting and powerful forms you’ll get to take on; not just the drones and wretches, but the exploding tickers, cleaver-wielding butchers, beefy maulers and bloodmounts (with an AI-controlled Beast Rider atop). It’s strange, slightly messy and undeniably chaotic, and the spike and razor wire defences take some getting past, but it’s the best kind of mayhem.
Gears 3 isn’t perfect. Naysayers will carry on complaining about its linearity and its adherence to established formulas, and the games occasional slump into the pedestrian definitely holds it back from a ten. Yet the package as a whole is worth every superlative we can throw at it. Gears of War 3 is an exceptional action game and a fitting finale to a series that has, in many ways, set the standard for the current console generation. It’s not the end of the saga, by any means, and we eagerly await what Epic has to show us next.
One of the Xbox 360’s most outstanding action games, and a new benchmark for epic sci-fi spectacle, Gears 3 is simply unmissable.