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Gears of War ends strong

So, I should start by saying that while I have always been a fan of Gears of War, I was never the biggest fan. I thought the games were fun, but not the Halo equal or replacement they wanted to be. Gears revolutionized games in a lot of ways. The stop and pop shooter elements revolutionized third person shooters forever, take a look at ME2 if you don't believe me. On that note, it also introduced the Unreal Engine 3, the most widely licensed engine to day as far as I know. That said, Halo also felt too manly, brutish and macho for me. I need more substance in my games. The first game's story was...there. It wasn't horrible but I wasn't exactly raving about it. Gears 2 did a lot better, the plot was interesting and overall better, but still had issues. I found it predictable, though Maria's death was a VERY good moment, powerful and tragic. With that long winded introduction out of the way I arrive at Gears of War 3. The third and final game in this trilogy where we follow Delta Squad. So, how was it for me? Simply put Gears of War 3 is the BEST in the series by a long shot. Let's begin shall we? 

Gameplay

So, how does it play? Amazing. Simply put Gears of War 3 is one of the most polished and air tight games I've ever seen. I guess that extra 6 months Epic had did the game a lot of good. It feels like the game is actually finished. Unlike most games that release tons of patches to finish up their games, Gears is a complete work of art. The controls are more responsive than ever. When I want to move to cover or jump, it knows better than before. I never get hung up on cover or go to the wrong place now. Maybe once in a while but it's barely noticeable. The weapons feel as though they have considerably more weight. They've all been beefed up or improved. None of them were nerfed. I especially like the Hammer burst's iron sights. It almost feels like cheating when I use it, same with the silver-back exo-suites. love em'  :) That said, I wasn't a big fan of the double barrel shotgun (in campaign at least) and for all it's polished glory Gears of War 3 has one issue. Normal feels like easy. I know that's a nitpick but hey, I'm really having a hard time finding things to complain about here. Hardcore feels like normal mode now. It's an odd choice but nothing terrible. Also, the areas you fight in are now a lot more open and wide. This was another issue I had with the previous two games. They always felt so narrow. Mostly hallway and corridor stuff with a few large set pieces. Gears 2 did better but still suffered from it. That's a thing of the past here. Everything is bigger and more expansive. Another improvement was the use of nav points. I know actually use the left bumper in the game, so it's a subtle but major improvement. I was annoyed by the tutorials all over the place, but I just turned those off. The characters all move faster and more fluidly. One thing I never liked about Gears or War was how sluggish you were. I realize they are big guys in lots of armor, but I always felt so slow and weighed down while playing. Not anymore, you move at a decent pace and feel a lot more mobile. Though those scenes where they walk slow when talking to a character for story can get annoying. I hate when I'm forced to slow down for the sake of story. Especially when It's not necessary.  That said, most of the instances where story and gameplay mix work beautifully and I see why they did it. It makes sense on both ends, a rarity in games these days as well. Simply put Epic nailed gameplay this time around. Epic truly understands that the most sublte and understated things in games are the best. It's not buggy, it's not unfinished and it's VERY polished.  

Graphics/Presentation

I must say, this is the Unreal engine running at it's best. Leave it to Epic to make the best use of their own engine. Gears 3 looks amazing.  The large open set pieces are a joy to look at. One thing I noticed right off the bat was the use of more colors besides gray black, red, and more gray. They now have yellow, blue and greens!! I know it doesn't seem like much but Gears 3 is a much better looking game because it uses more colors that are visually appealing to look at. Effects are mostly well done, though I can't say I really like the fire, and sometimes the water looks more gel like than I think it should. But those are minor things really as they are still a cut above the usual effects that are typically static. Still, I've seen a lot better. (Halo Reach's fire and water effects come to mind.) The character models also look a lot better. Still a tiny bit stiff in animations at times, but nothing too bad, and everybody looks better than ever. Also, I should remark on how well the women have been portrayed in this game. For such a macho game, women have never been objectified once in this series. Now, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the most you got where a few short scenes with Anya but in Gears 3 it shows that the guys at Epic don't see women as bimbos with big *** and very little armor. The female characters are as strong as the guys and while not ugly by any means, they don't have to have their *** or ass hanging out to be sexy. Strong women can be sexy too guys.  But the men are also portrayed a lot better. The men have genuine emotions and feelings. Heart and courage. Now more than ever I believe their motivations and actions. All around great characters that clearly have known each other for a long time and have all lost so much. The last thing I wanna touch on here is the awesome amount of massive creatures in this game. Gears 3 truly feels epic in scale and a giant sea monster attacking your ship goes a long way. That's not even the only instance of epically huge creatures in the game either, there are several. This game has a scope that can truly be described as epic and lives up to that in every way. 

Multiplayer 

One of the biggest complaints about Gears of War 2 was the unpolished and buggy multiplayer. It was hard to enjoy because it was broke. Epic games clearly took that to heart and focused a lot of their efforts on making it up to us in a big way. Gears 3 is proof of this. I've never been all that good at Gears multiplayer and didn't enjoy Gears 2 multiplayer at all. But this game managed to drag me back in. You get points for everything now, nobody gets left behind and they make sure you play with people who are at your skill level. They also use dedicated servers and other tricks to make multiplayer the most seamless I've ever seen in any game. It doesn't feel like I'm even online when I play it. If that wasn't good enough, you also have Hoard 2.0, a vastly improved Hoard mode that allows you to improve and upgrade defenses in between each wave of enemies. 4 player co-op online is a great bonus and much like the previous two games, the co-op partners are not shoehorned in, they are there because it makes sense for the story. But what struck me as the best addition was Beast mode. I had more fun with this than anything else. The ability to play as a berserker or armored Kantus was amazing. But the little guys are fun too. The tickers are just so great, so fast and so deadly. Hell even the regular locust soldiers are fun to play as. All around a great example of how to do Beast mode right. Take notes Dead Space...seriously. (won't even get into that) 

Sound

What can I say, Gears 3 sounds great. From the sound effects for the guns to the voice acting. It's all great. The characters are portrayed wonderfully as always, but the actors were never the problem, it was usually the dumb macho dialogue. This time around it's a lot better. Actors new and old turn in some truly great performances. The music also really sets the tone in a great way. The powerful scenes have that much more weight because of it. The action is more intense and the subtle ques are all just wonderfully executed this time around. Not much else to say about that. 

So overall Gears of War 3 is a triumphant end to a great series that finally hit it's stride in the final chapter. Funny how most of the time thirds in series suck in every other medium but games, where in this case, the third installment is the best. But that has to do with the amount of care and polish put into this game. This is more than just a great ending to a great series. it's Epic's masterpiece and an example of what so many games should do. Take your time, polish your product and employ subtle changes and improvements, as they are usually the most important. 

Gears of War 3 gets a 9.5 out of 10

Pros
-amazingly polished and great gameplay
-great story with a satisfying conclusion 
-wonderful voice acting and music
-Vastly improved multiplayer 
-BEAST MODE!
-less sluggish characters
-wider more open areas to fight in
-nav points help a lot

cons
-Some effects aren't done as well as I think they could have been
-Story moments that slow down your character are annoying

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