Despite our slight disappointment with the campaign, Gears of War 3’s multiplayer has never been better. We’ve already raved about the cooperative aspects, but the competitive maps and modes are equally fantastic. Some improvements are immediately obvious, like the new XP leveling system which unlocks prizes or the medal menu that tracks achievements such as how many times you’ve killed with a grenade tag, or a mortar, or in a spree. Others are less so, like the fan service Easter egg in which an instrumental version of “Mad World” occasionally plays on the classic map Gridlock, or the ‘80s laugh track you can add to any match.
What’s most impressive about the multiplayer, however, are the ten maps – each memorable for totally unique reasons, and each worthy of a different style of strategy. Sandbar is a sprawling tropical paradise with countless beautiful spots to snipe from, while Checkout is a tiny cluttered supermarket where only shotguns and short-range rifles make sense. Overpass features a single turret that everyone will struggle for as the broken concrete ground shifts suddenly beneath their feet, while Trenches features a blinding sandstorm that drives everyone underground for cover at least once a match. The list goes on, but you’ll want to discover some of the maps’ secrets and surprises for yourself. Suffice to say, Gears of War 3’s multiplayer and co-op more than make up for whatever’s lacking in the campaign.
Gears of War / Gears of War 2? Yes and no. While the multiplayer and four-player co-op in Gears of War 3 are the best the series has produced, the campaign will probably leave you a little disappointed. Its action is bigger and brawnier than what’s come before, but the story and pacing (as well as some of the new characters and environments) aren’t everything you’d hope for in a trilogy conclusion. Think of it as Return of the Jedi syndrome.
Halo: Reach? Yes. Both Xbox shooters feature some of the best multiplayer available on consoles, but Gears of War 3’s co-op is more fun and more diverse. And even though the campaign falls a little flat at times, its story is still incredibly important to the canon and its heroes are still the icons we want to play as – the same can’t be said for Halo: Reach.
Resistance 3? Sorry, but even though the comparison is understandable – an exclusive PS3 trilogy and an exclusive 360 trilogy happen to reach their third entries during the same month – we’re not walking into that fanboy crossfire here. Chances are you’ve only invested in one of these franchises by playing the previous two games, so pick that. Otherwise, you’re lucky enough to own multiple consoles and shouldn’t be bothered with such silly rivalries.
Gears of War 3 boasts the best co-op and multiplayer of the series, by far, easily making up for the less-than-satisfying campaign. The end of the trilogy may not live up to your epic expectations, but somewhere in the tenth – or hundredth – hour of Beast and Horde 2.0 modes, you’ll forgive it.
Sep 15, 2011
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