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GAME REVIEW: Gears of War 3

I like my Gears like I like my poops: Long, Hard, Explosive, Corny and best enjoyed with 3 other friends. Wait maybe that's a bad analogy. Let me try again. Gears of War 3 is like awesome. Let it be known I bought a 360 for Gears of War, in fact when I logged on (thanks to a free one month Live card I've been saving) the last game I'd played was Gears 2, 600,000 years ago. So with that out of the way, know that if you don't like Gears of War, part three is not going to change your mind. Here's why.

There's a love triangle going on here, but it's not between who you may think...

The only thing more hilarious than an amazingly terrible story told by steroid robots, is an amazingly terrible DARK story told by steroid robots AND steroid girlbots. For those who haven't been paying attention to the narrative of the Gears world, congratulations: you did it right. For the rest of us what started as a fairly standard tale of a mole people like invasion, has (downward?) spiraled into a tale of lies, cover-ups, daddy issues, and what I like to call "The Tiberium Effect."

The world of Gears 3 is supposed to be the most sobering and desperate of the series, but to be honest it seems like everyone's doing just fine. Dom is taking up shrubberies, it's less of a sausage party (2 to 8 girl to guy ratio!), and everyone is going sleeveless for the summer! In fact, the only real signs that things aren't going well are Dom's beard and the occasional remorseful flashback of the "good ol' days." Apparently the entire world is dying as the planet's resources are dwindling to starvation levels, but you'd never know it judging by Marcus Phoenix's 32 inch pythons.

Desolation. GEARS STYLE!

So without trying to spoil too much of the "plot," just know that Gears of War 3 takes an Executive Decision type approach to character arcs. With all its cheese, melodrama and angry yelling, more questions are raised by the end of the game than answered, but again, if you're really paying attention to this plot, you're missing out on the point of Gears of War. The plot does everything it needs to do to bounce you and your various team members around the world and put you in perilous predicaments.

The biggest and best new feature for Gears 3 is the outstanding four player co-op through the entire campaign. I've always played Gears with a co-op partner and actually have no reference of what Gears is like single player, but adding two extra players exponentially multiplies the awesomeness. Fleshing out Delta Squad with three of your closest online buddies is how this game was meant to be played. The only problem is that they haven't invented a way to high five through X Box Live yet, as you will find yourself rejoicing in bro-lation after you successfully murder down a baker's dozen or more of those pesky locusts. Honestly, there is not a better co-op experience around.

COG is an equal opportunity employer, drawing creativity from diversity!

In keeping with the awesome four-player co-op camaraderie, Epic has done an amazing job of designing levels which allow for far more flanking and strategy than any of the previous Gears. The fights are larger in scale and can be approached in many different ways, none of which is necessarily the "right" way to do it. Some of the best fun to be had is arguing with your squad mates over the best way to tackle a sticky situation.

Besides the excellent co-op campaign, Gears of War 3 has added a bunch of new changes to their other online offerings, specifically Team Death Match, Horde Mode, and the new Beast Mode. Team Death Match is a great way for people to log on, get double barrel shotgunned, respawn, and do it again all in less than the time it took just to connect to a game in Gears of War 2. Horde Mode has evolved, borrowing heavily from the Treyarch Call of Duty's Zombie Mode. You now save up money to fortify your position, buy ammo, yadda yadda. Lastly, the new Beast Mode will provide fun for about an hour and a half as you try to kill the series's brotagonists within a set time using various types of the locust race. Pro tip: Berserker? More like Broserker!

Bucknasty illustrating the finer points of TDM

Gears 3 is of course not perfect, as it shouldn't be. I have come to expect a level of polish matched only by the level of progression-stopping bugs in all of the Gears games. It adds to the Gears charm in that, as you're playing through and encounter some ridiculous bug, you and your co-op partners can laugh about it and tell stories the next day. If the crashes are what people talk about in Nascar, it's the bugs that people talk about in Gears. Another point of contention, at least with me, is the control. Gears has always been sluggish and one-button heavy. Part 3 does nothing to alleviate that and I did notice a really irritating 90 degree quick turn when you roll and hold left or right. On more than one occasion this confusing camera turn ended in brosaster. DOOOOOOOMMMM NOOOO!!!!!

She's a looker.

Surprise, surprise, Gears of War 3 looks amazing. Graphically this game is firing on all cylinders and the environments vary in size, climate and tentacle density. This is one pretty game. However, the redesign of Marcus and crew leaves a lot to be desired. If falling upon hard times means you can no longer afford T-shirts or sleeves of any sort, then yes, hard times have hit Sera. I found it mildly disturbing having to stare at Phoenix's baby smooth arms through the 10-hour adventure. The new look is, for lack of a better word, gay.

Abortion Fist always prattles on about his guilty pleasure games. To me, Gears of War is my ultimate guilty pleasure game. I look at it and just shake my head and laugh and laugh and laugh and just have a fucking great time. There's nothing else quite like it and after three iterations, the formula is as strong as ever. Gears of War 3 is the pinnacle of Gears of Warness. If you like any of the games in the series, this is the best. If you've never played the series, go ahead and play this one first - there will be no need to play the other two. My thanks go out to the Cliffster and all the fine folks over at Epic Games but even more so to the three other members of Delta Squad who made the game so enjoyable!

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