Published on June 28th, 2010 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Gears of War 3 impressions, Cam and Greg tag team this one
Greg: Whoever thought we would come to the point in Gears of War, or in video games for that matter, when being able to saw someone in half wasn’t the best thing about the game? Did I play and beat Gears of War 1? Yes. Did I play and beat Gears of War 2? Yes. Although I may not be the biggest fan or have the most memorabilia from the game, if any, that still does not make me less appreciate the quality and the adaptability that Epic has proved in this franchise.
The opening scene brings us to Anvil Gate where we meet our crew. We come to find out that the coalition is no more and the Locust have gone savage. With more brutal attacks and more angst, the Locust will be sure to surprise you in all of their efforts to kill you.
One of the first things I noticed off-the-bat that I appreciate for any sequel or 3rd installment for that matter, is the improvement of A.I. and enemies. With that being said, the “Digger” is by far one of my new favorites to hate. The attack is simple. They launch an enemy grenade into the ground where you can see it “dig.” Just when you thought you mowed down a few scumbag-locust, a grenade pops up and drops you to your knees. The goal is to make sure you are the one doing it first.
In GoW 2, it was common to stick grenades into a wall and have a flailing enemy come along and trip it. This time, it’s personal. While Marcus ducked for cover and ran up on a few scumbags who were laying down some heavy fire, he swapped weapons with one of his teammates to grab a better gun. This is another feature that can be done during the co-op campaign. The next was to make his way to the closest enemy, fire, and then stick them in the torso with a lovely explosive device. Probably the first of many highlights coming from the demo.
Cam: Greg is spot on; Gears 3 is fast and furious and if you aren’t quick on your feet, you will soon find yourself without your freaking head. That will be a bad day. Normally, I would like to talk about all the new things happening in Gears such as the new weapons or the new enemies such as the Lambent and how they can transform into stronger foes after a few seconds. But instead I want to talk about how different the game looks. Yes, it still uses the Unreal 3 engine (what else?) and it still looks phenomenal. However, the overall style has changed much from the previous two games.
The original Gears of War was chastised by many to be too blah-colored. Indeed the color palette didn’t vary much between gray, brown, and grayish-brown. In Gears 2, Epic experimented with the overall color scheme, adding brighter environments and green foliage. Now, Gears 3 has a much brighter, almost pastel, look to it that I quickly grew to like. The demo took place in a bright, summer-esque location that if it wasn’t for the swarms of killer Locust and Lambent, would have had me believe we were looking at someone else’s game.
But enough about aesthetics, let’s talk about the violence! Woo hoo!
Epic made it pretty clear near the end of Gears of War 2 that the Locust were soon going to become a small issue in light of the game’s new enemy, the Lambent. During the demo we got a pretty good look at what gamers will have to face when Gears 3 hits. The Lambent is not necessarily a species as it is a symbiotic force that takes over Locust and makes them stronger than ever.
The Lambent make their appearance on the battlefield by way of Lambent stalks which shoot up from the ground and release soldiers ready to fight. Like I said, Lambent soldiers are mutated forms of the Locust horde you have fought before, but now far more deadly. One we witnessed didn’t think twice to start assaulting the team with flamethrower growing out of its arm. Even everyone’s favorite tank-with-legs, the Berserker, didn’t escape transformation. The Lambent Berserker didn’t lose any of its lovely charm; she still charges at terrifying speeds and can dispatch (read: utterly destroy) any COG soldiers who can’t take a hint and step out of her path. The Lambent Berserker can also leap over tall objects now. The COG team wasn’t even safe behind a high wall as the beast effortlessly jumped over it. Sadly, we won’t know what happens to our severely screwed COG friends until the game ships next year.
Luckily our Gears of War 3 demo didn’t just end with what was seen at the Microsoft Press Conference, we also got to check out the new game type, Beast. Take it away, Greg.
Greg: Maybe you’ve always wanted to play as the Locust, maybe you’re curious, and maybe you’re part alien and or insect and enjoy eating human limbs. I don’t know. But if you do like tearing off human limbs and beating a wounded soldier on the ground, sawing someone in half is only, well, half the fun. What I do know is that playing as the Locust looks like it will definitely have its benefits and satisfying moments. The map that was shown to us in the demo was called “Mercy.” While playing against Marcus and his team, you will notice that there are three different types of Heroes, which gives us some varying gameplay during waves. The three different are the Stranded Civilian, the Red Shirt, and the Hero Enemy Character. This offers some different balancing between the three and the weaponry will do the same.
There were only a few creatures from the Locust that we were able to choose from, but many others that you can unlock. Rod Fergusson made it known that the ones provided would be unlocked over the course of new waves and tokens that you would receive for killing them off. The level of difficulty would progress, just like prior horde modes. At least this time you are on the other side of the war. Fighting off the waves also leads you to lay down turrets, barb wire fences, and many other fortifications to put your fort building skills at ease.
Even if you at a distance from Marcus and the clan, now your enemies, you can reap the benefits of being a Locust. Enter the Kantus. Sounds like a horrible B-movie. The Kantus not only looks like he might have been able to make the Locust basketball team, he acts as a medic. While moving close to your team, if you have about 2.5 seconds, the time it takes to heal, you can heal your squad from a distance.
The balancing of Locust adds a whole new spectrum to GoW. Another example would be playing as the Berserker. Smashing enemies and tearing through fences are just a few of the added benefits to being 500+lbs. of muscle and mass. The only set back is the limited vision. It was almost like looking through a fish-eye lens. The outside of the areas were darkened and had a fog-esque feel to it. These two are almost polar opposites of the now playable Ticker. Running next to an enemy and blowing them up after a teammate has laid down some near life ending gunfire puts the icing on the cake. It also puts you one step closer to earning more tokens, armor, and other benefits to keep hordin’ yourself out.
Cam: Well that’s basically it. With what Greg has explained, no doubt some of you can see the strategy potential while playing Beast. You can have a player be a Butcher as a tank and a distraction while you have one or two Tickers crawl behind enemy lines and kill off some stragglers. Other players can be Locust soldiers and lay down cover fire while a Kantus can stand in the background and heal the fallen soldiers.
There is obviously a lot more strategy you can utilize with beast than you could with the standard Horde mode. This makes the new mode an easy win in my book. I wish I could say more, but Greg has pretty much covered everything there is about it. Look to GAMINGtruth.com for more info on Beast and Gears of War 3 as it develops.