Gears of War 3 review

  • Campaign’s intense action and ferocious enemies
  • Brutal yin and yang of Horde and Beast modes
  • Quality and diversity evident in every multiplayer map
  • Occasionally too predictable and too familiar story
  • Your kill-stealing, glory-hogging AI partners
  • Hanging out with Ice-T instead of Cole, Dom or Baird

A not-so-epic campaign

The heroes are more believable and the enemies are more indomitable. The weapons are satisfying and some of the action sequences are stunning. We spent the entire first page of this review drooling over what’s better in Gears of War 3’s campaign, and yet… we just weren’t as impressed as when we first played through Gears of War 1 and 2, nor were we completely satisfied by the conclusion of the trilogy. Although we’d had a massive amount of fun, something was keeping this game from feeling as climactic as we’d hoped. Something was off.  

That “something” is difficult to fully define and describe, but here are a few contributing factors. First, the story is a tad predictable. Before starting Gears of War 3, we conducted an experiment, writing down a list of characters we expected to survive and a list of characters we expected to selflessly sacrifice themselves in noble battle. We were correct on all but one. The driving mission behind the entire narrative, meanwhile – and the key to winning the entire war against the Locust – doesn’t seem too different from tracking down a “sonic resonator” in the original game, and honestly comes across as less dramatic than the sinking of humanity’s only stronghold in the second game. Plus, the pacing loses a lot of steam and creativity in the middle when you realize you haven’t seen Cole, Baird or Dom for hours and you’ve spent the last several missions scouring for fuel, rotors and generator switches in the Gears equivalent of warehouses. Thank goodness the game’s concluding act is also the best.

Finally, Gears of War 3 is incredibly (almost stupidly) easy on anything less than Hardcore difficulty. Because of its potential four-player co-op, the game must provide you with at least three AI partners at all times, and these guys are frustratingly helpful. They’ll charge ahead and kill half the enemies while you’re still searching for collectables and ammunition. They’ll finish off bosses when you’re not looking. They’ll revive you every time, but also steal your executions every time. Fortunately, there’s a wonderful solution…

Must play co-op

Gears of War 3 is a great game to play solo; it’s an unforgettable game to play with friends. Anyone who’s tried the groundbreaking co-op in Gears 1 or Gears 2 already knows this, of course, but now that experience comes with even more reward. In addition to the simple increase from two to four players – the impact of which can’t be overstated or overhyped – this entry adds more missions with divergent pathways, weapons that require multiple people to operate and an arcade mode that tracks kills, encouraging competition along with the cooperation.

That’s merely the campaign. Horde Mode is better, too, with new tower defense elements and waves of enemies that include boss creatures. If fighting a Brumak in the expansive environments of a story mission sounds exciting, imagine that same monster on a cramped multiplayer map, attempting to squeeze his behemoth head through a doorway as you and your squad frantically strategize how best to spend your funds. Bigger guns? Repaired barriers? Additional control centers?

Beast Mode is the refreshing opposite – a complete and utter change of pace from everything else offered in Gears of War 3. Playing as the Locust monsters instead of the human soldiers has the potential for gimmicky afterthought, but this may be the most brutally satisfying part of the whole package. Nothing is quite as addictive as detonating a group of unsuspecting enemies with a Ticker, clawing them to pieces with a Wretch, shattering their eardrums with a Kantus, electrocuting them with the pinchers of a Serapede and then simply smashing them into paste with the charge of a Berserker. All within a single match.

More Info

Release date: Sep 20 2011 - Xbox 360 (US)
Sep 20 2011 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Epic Games
Franchise: Gears of War
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language


  • onyx precursers - March 26, 2012 12:19 a.m.

    this game is freak-in awesome the beta rocked the only thing is my profile data recently reset me back to level one for no reason it has taken me 4 months to get back up to my rank with a least 10 of my 15 onyx medals i would love to know how to fix this
  • dell215 - October 2, 2011 5:09 a.m.

    Well idk about everyone on here but,as far as the story goes,its a good one but not great,but the multiplayer features alone make this the best 3rd person shooter ever,now as far as comparing gears 3 and resistance 3,ima leave that subject alone cause I'm not a fanboy,I played both games,and they both offer something some what different,besides this gears is 3rd person shooter and should not be compared to resistance 3 at all,its stupid to compare them,what you fanboys should all do is rejoice in the fact that your living in this time and playing great games and please stop all the stupid and useless comments,and just play your games and have fun,I could tell you which game I liked more,but will you listen?,hell no you won't,cause mostlikely your a fanboy and you only want to hear or read what you want so what's the point,just have fun playing your games and stop all this hate towards games especially if you haven't even gave the game a chance and played it for yourself,play it first before you judge it,trust me you will enjoy it,you probably won't admit it,but YOU WILL ENJOY IT!
  • gilgamesh310 - September 29, 2011 1:12 p.m.

    Darkwun, they are design choices but they are design choices that sap a lot of fun out of games. The regenerating heal, cover shooting mechanic and weapon limits are mainstream stallwarts of this generation and any game that doesn't have them is better off.
  • eric-tha-don - September 27, 2011 2:28 a.m.

    gears of war sucks. and with that conclusion..i dont deserve to live.
  • Darkwun - September 24, 2011 6:07 a.m.

    Those are design choices, they hardly make it an inferiorgame. They're both great games that cater to a different audience but that can be enjoyed by many who are open to both concepts. GR did well to avoid a fanboy war, people like F*CK just cater to the bull that one game HAS to better than the other. Reviews exist to give an informed opinion of a game of which to base your purchases on. Not to give fanboys ammunition
  • Darkwun - September 23, 2011 4:10 a.m.

    Great review but I wish I never read it! strayed too close to spoiler territory, and though the twists were obvious, it's a little different to have suspicions yourself about certain plot occurences, than have them pretty much confirmed in the review so your damn well EXPECTING them to happen rather than just thinking "I bet it will." kinda ruined the immersion of the moment! Lets face it, anyone in their right mind is going to know who you're talking about rom the review so it's pretty much a downright confirmation! It was further marred by my new housemate talking over the scene... EFF OFF MAN! Gears doesn't have many deep scenes, stop pulling me out of the game! he then decided to do it AGAIN at the unexpected death... a hole. On the whole I preferred the campaign over Gears 1 & 2. Marcus' character was more 3D, the story had more depth and they even managed to squeeze a Koehler's gun moment in there. Actual plot techniques in a Gears game? I'll take that! Though Griffin... what a useless pile of turd... seriously... what was the point!
  • Zepaw - September 18, 2011 5:11 p.m.

    Nice landmine avoidance with Resistance 3.
  • forestfire55 - September 17, 2011 11:16 a.m.

    Sorry i poasted the same thing like 8 times by accident
  • forestfire55 - September 17, 2011 11:01 a.m.

    Hey Charlie, I know you may never read this but i have read alot of your posts and i have to say i am sorry. Alot of us (gamers) tend to think its our way or no way. I have been a fan for years and i have seen people mad over the years over nothing. No man should ever need to argue an 8, let alone a 9.
  • ProfessorChief - September 17, 2011 1:31 a.m.

    Great review Charlie! Never liked the multiplayer in Gears much, but I had fun playing the beta. Think I'll dive further into it with this one. You've sold me on it for sure!
  • JayQ - September 16, 2011 12:29 p.m.

    I just checked and yea, Drake got replaced by Michael B. Jordan thank god. Just thought I'd throw that in there since you specifically mentioned Drake in your "things you'll hate" section.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - September 16, 2011 1:13 p.m.

    My God, you're right. Thank you for pointing out the error - it shall be corrected in the review post haste! The criticism still stands, as that character steals too much time from the characters we want to see, but at least now I know it's not to accommodate another celebrity voiceover (ahem, Ice-T).
  • Fox_Mulder - September 17, 2011 3:28 p.m.

    Oh good. I thought Jace was being voiced by Drake, thank the G that didn't pan out. I think Nolan North voiced Jace for the two lines he had in GOW2, so hopefully he will sound more like he did in the second game.
  • JayQ - September 16, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    wait, last i herd Drake got replaced due to schedule conflicts.
  • manateesta - September 16, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    Awesome review Charlie, I am glad to hear there have been improvements on multiplayer. I have always been a fan of the GOW multiplayer, but GOW 2 turned me off because I wasn't willing to put up with host BS and glitches when there were other games to play. At the time of GOW 1's release there wasn't much else, so I just stuck with it. I feel GOW's multiplayer has a much different feel then most FPS's and I would love to give it another go.
  • AuthorityFigure - September 16, 2011 2:03 a.m.

    Those asking for a particular score make the game seem so needy and unworthy.
  • Grif - September 15, 2011 9:56 p.m.

    Nice review Charlie, it was a very good read. And as good as you say it is, I'll probably let it pass. It's just not my kind of game. (The Halo fanboy in me will not let me buy it LOL or maybe it's the lack of money and Xbox).

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