Gears of War 3Less than an hour into Gears of War 3 and I was confronted with what could loosely be described as the game’s first puzzle.

Ordered to move a crate to access the lever behind, I used my conventional videogame logic to hunt for hidden switches, on-screen prompts to push the box, and even tried clambering up onto it.

A couple minutes later, with my frustration getting to me, I decided to beat the living crap out of it.

Miraculously, the box disintegrated and the switch hidden behind revealed itself, thus completing my mini-mission and rewarding me with my prize – an even bigger weapon to beat the living crap out of everything else.

That, in a nutshell, is Gears of War. Stupidly, satisfyingly and brilliantly mindless, but guaranteed to illicit the basest of human emotions and in an undeniably addictive way.

Two years after [SPOILER ALERT] the Gears crew sunk the Locust-hometown of Jacinto, and – whaddayaknow – the bugs are back with a vengeance. As if the arrival of a distinctly rowdy new strain of Locust, known as the Lambent, wasn’t troubling enough, bicep-with-a-brain Marcus Fenix discovers that the cause of all his Freudian emotional issues is seemingly alive and well. Cue an inevitably bombastic mission across land, sea and air to bring down the bugs and rescue the daddy relationship.

Gears of War 3

When it comes to adrenaline-soaked, squad-based tactical blasting, Epic are still the unequivocal leaders. With an engine and cover-based mechanic that’s been honed to perfection, the game is a joy to play. Both instantly pickupable and subtly nuanced, the new array of weapons, enemies and bombastic set pieces provide an ample playground to unleash gaming hell upon the digitalised monster masses. While they’ve dialled back the obvious ‘THIS IS A BIG SCENE’ scenes, there’s still a grandiosity to the battles that consistently entertains. Sure, the odd level feels a little repetitive, but the overarching pace and design skips along with a gleeful energy that guarantees the onemoregoability.

Weirdly enough for a game about bazooka-toting meatheads, the thing that really captivates is the storytelling. From the Dali-esque dream sequence opening through to the trilogy’s epic emotional climax, proceedings are driven through the heart of the boys (and newly joined girls). Sure, it’s not going to trouble Final Fantasy anytime soon when it comes to character depth, but for gamers who have stuck with the franchise, there are moments that are crafted so cinematically you can’t help but be swept along.

The multiplayer is similarly polished. Four-player co-op now comes as standard (and mostly works a treat), while the new Beast mode allows players the chance to step into the shoes/hoofs/buggy legs of all manner of bad guys with one mission and one mission only – decimate the humans. It’s unbridled, silly and infectious fun.

The odd glitch belies the scope of Epic’s vision, and they’d be hard pushed to create another Gears game capable of being bigger and better than the series on Microsoft’s current console, but for now it’s a fitting swan song – both thematically and explosively – to a series that specialises, and now rules, the best type of brainlessness around.


Gears of War 3 is on General Release now, and available on Xbox 360.