Duck for Cover, it’s Gears of War 3! A Preview on what’s to come.

Action Previews Shooter Xbox 360 Epic

Gears of War, made by the most epic studio of them all, Epic, is a series of games that are based around a crew of hardened soldiers that are a part of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (or COGS) that have to fight the Locust horde in order to save the planet for their human counterparts.

Recently EPIC revealed that they were launching a third entry into this series, Gears of War 3! This game appears to be shaping as the most epic of the three titles with the introduction of new characters, locations and of course, epic multiplayer.

You’re likely to play the game as one of the COG soldiers, Marcus Fenix – the buff leader of the team. The squad is likely to be named Delta as in the previous games.

The team consists of action hero cliché soldiers, Dom, Cole, Baird and the newest members of their ranks: Anya Stroud, Samantha Byrne and Bernadette Mataki.

‘But wait!’ You may be thinking, ‘Anya isn’t a cliché soldier name!’ Well, that’s because you’re right, it’s not. It is in fact the name of a woman, a woman who may very well be a part of Delta squad. If you’re someone who follows Gears of War’s canon closely you may already know that Anya is a love interest for Marcus and their relationship may very well be fleshed out over the course of the game. Of course, she probably exists for more than romance in the game and is likely to be in the front lines with the rest of Delta, killing line after line of Locusts and maybe even occasionally sawing one into many. Besides Anya there may also be another female member of Delta, ‘Samantha Byrne’. I don’t normally go for the militaristic/buff loo– ah who am I kidding, yeah I do and man who wouldn’t? She’s a rather attractive persona! And I also bet that she could mow down the locusts as efficiently as any of the male characters could, maybe even more so. She’s also going to be voiced by Claudia Black (of Pitch Black, Farscape, Stargate SG1 fame!). The last of the new female Gears is one ‘Bernadette Mataki’. Judging by her looks, she could be one tough character. I’m assuming that any Locust that comes between her and her goal will likely end up as mincemeat, or juicy steak… depending on the situation.

From left to right – Anya, Sam, Bernie

Like the previous games, the combat is where this game stands out. Like most epic games the battles are as intense as they are graphic, very. However, there is more to combat then just running in and gunning down enemies (and occasionally sawing one in half), the combat is more about the flow of the battlefield and how you use cover to your advantage. Running straight out into a nest of Locusts is likely to get you killed, even on the easier difficulties (unless of course you have a really good plan and running in is a part of that), so your best bet is to stick to the cover and act strategically. If the AI in this game is anything like the last two, they’re going to be quite capable of backing you up… or mowing you down, depending on how you’re looking at it.

What’s an EPIC game without competitive multiplayer? This is the strong point of any and all games released by EPIC. Just look at their lineup of games from their catalog: One Must Fall 2097 (Back when they were Epic Megagames), Unreal, Unreal Tournament (UT-UT3), Unreal Championship (On the Xbox), The upcoming Bulletstorm and last but certainly not the least, Gears of War (GoW 1-2). There was also an Unreal 2, but for some reason it originally didn’t ship with multiplayer… which was a strange deviation. Anyways, multiplayer in Gears of War is a combination of team work, dedication to the goal, strategic placement of yourself in comparison to the enemy and your allies and most importantly, a very decent aim with an even more decent firing reflex. I believe that this is why Gears of War is such a revered multiplayer game and what makes EPIC such a great company, they know how to make things balanced while remaining fun. You’re always concentrating on multiple things at once or you’re going to be killed, but it’s also the same in reverse! Spend too much time figuring out what’s going on and you’re likely to be killed. You need to be the best at both and there’s nothing more satisfying than besting some other player, especially if he’s the top guy on the other team it’s just so much fun! Let us hope that EPIC keep up with this tradition of competition in the multiplayer while maintaining the balance and fun and this game will be quite a success.

I know that I’ve talked greatly about the multiplayer but it is hard to deny that it will be the core of this game, besides the cover based strategy elements. The first two Gears of War games single player component were built around cooperative gameplay and having fun with your friends either in your loungeroom, or online (I’m sure you could also use PUGS, but I didn’t). I’m certain that co-op will be making a return, considering it’s what makes this franchise so great, and it is likely to great fun inviting over a few mates and going to town on the Locust horde.

Speaking of hordes, there’s a new spin on the Horde mode from Gears 2 called ‘Beast Mode’. In Beast Mode players work together (as Locusts) to mow down wave after wave of human soldiers within the wave time limit. Obviously this will become more difficult as you progress and the further you progress the more rewards you shall receive. The in-game reward for completing a wave will be ‘tokens’. Tokens can be used for upgrading your soldiers class within the Beast gametype. This gametype sounds like it could be really fun! I’m personally pumped for it as Horde mode was my favorite gametype in Gears of War 2, mainly for its arcade like feel as well as the cooperative component. Of course, there was always the competitive element of the scoring system which kept things interesting.

This is likely to be at minimum as fun as Horde was, but, knowing EPIC and CliffyB, it’s going to be more bigger, more awesome and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

All in All, this is going to be one of EPIC’s most epic games ever. It’s going to be bigger, better and offer more ass-kick than its predecessor. Knowing the staff behind this game and the way the previous games were handled you can expect this to be one of the best games to have ever been released on the Xbox360. Let’s hope that it does well enough to warrant a release on the PC as well (C’mon PC community! Let your voices be heard!).

Gaming for as long as my memory serves me, probably longer.

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