Gears Of War 3 – Preview

The Gears of War stand at PAX East doesn’t seem much to look at, it’s effectively just a big curved poster with Xbox stations either side. Sure, it would have been cool to have a twenty foot high statue of Marcus repeatedly beating a downed Locust with its own arm, but it’s the game that matters here.

First thing I noticed even from the queue is just how much better Gears of War 3 looks which, to be fair, it didn’t actually need to be. If you pop the first Gears into your Xbox and play that even now, you wouldn’t think to complain about its graphics and, for a game that’s five years old now, there are few games that have aged quite as well… until you’ve seen Gears of War 3, that is.

I take a seat and vote on which map to play and, not unlike Halo Reach’s lobby system, you can now also change your character and load out at this point, with the new addition of being able to actually customise both your character and weapons. You’ll also be able to unlock new skins for both guns and characters as you progress through the game, which sounds like a dumb little thing, I know, but it’s cool to be able to play dress up.

I plumbed for one of my all time favourite game characters, Private Augustus “Cole Train” Cole, in his Thrash Ball outfit equipped with a Hammerburst and sawn off shotgun skinned up in a grey/black camo print. I didn’t actually get time to cycle through all of them before the round started but one guy next to me had a really cool looking Lancer that looked like it had its chainsaw bayonet dipped in Lambent to a point where it was almost melting with glowing edges. I frowned slightly, as I wanted that one.

The map loads up, checkout won the vote and I quickly hit start to invert my y axis – little did I know the console I was on was the host though and it seemed to pause everybody else’s game, so people were not happy with me. The map was indoors, mostly dark with beams of light shooting through broken windows and cracks in the roof and was a pretty symmetrical map with teams spawning at either end. When it comes to the controls and moving around the map not much (if anything) has changed – hold A to sprint, take cover and hop over walls; B stays as the melee option; X is still for swapping weapons and picking up ammo but I noticed that the button needs to be held down for a few seconds, and RB remains as reload although active reloading did seem a bit trickier than what I remember… either that or I was just rusty.

Good old COG vs Locust death match was the game mode playable on the demo; the guy from Microsoft that I spoke with said that they’d tried Annex yesterday but it didn’t work out too well as nobody knew any of the maps, and went on to explain that all of the old favourite game types will be included as well as some new ones. I asked if we’d get anything like a big team battle, but all I got back was a smile coupled with “we’re not ready to announce anything yet”.

I didn’t manage to get my hands on every weapon, but I can tell you that the Hammerburst has seen a few improvements and feels like the sort of gun I might actually start picking over the lancer; it’s a single shot fire as always, but just has a different feel to it… the best way I can describe it would be to say that it felt heavier. The sawn off shotgun is brutally powerful and will turn your enemies into a soup of red mist and chunks, but it comes at the cost of only holding two shells at a time as well as only being of any use at extremely close range. The Lancer remained pretty much the same but, like I said above, hitting that active reload perfectly was difficult with less room for error.

Downing a member of the opposing teams will give you a few options of how to execute them depending on the weapon your holding. I chose to take the one guy I managed to down as a meat shield and carried him around with me for ages, I had to let him go in the end though when I realised that he’d just queued for an hour to play the game and had spent it being dragged around by me. Poor guy, I’m sorry man.

Actually I’m not. We won the match.




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6 Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Looked stunning from my time with it at Eurogamer Expo last year, easily one of best looking 360 titles to date (at that time / build etc).

    PC version please Epic :(

  2. Adam says:

    Was never one for Gears till me and you sat and ran both of them on Co-Op, amazed to think that after all these years I’m thinking Day 1 purchase rather than letting it go for a few months. It’s brutish and dumb but it’s fun and fun (I didn’t have a more fitting 2nd word).

    A final hurrah, this is something to look forward to

  3. Edward says:

    I’m looking forward to the campaign for the new Gears, but not the multiplayer (except Horde mode, which is where I spent all my time on the game post campaign). If they get rid of the grindy achievements too this’ll be right at the top of my must play list :)

  4. Lee says:

    It is a very good game guys, I’ve always felt bad for gears as it’s longetivy always seemed to be dwafed by halo and cod. Hopefully gears last outing will get the support it deserves and not fall out of favour for annoying things like the dreaded shotgun lag

  5. MarkuzR says:

    I played the first Gears and was heard to mutter “wow” under my breath on more than one occasion, but I just couldn’t get to grips with it so I gave up after only a few hours and haven’t ever gone back to it. Maybe some day.

  6. Lorna says:

    Not one for me but it looks impressive. It made me smile that while other companies went for all out fancy booths, they had a curvy bit of cardboard but were still queued out! That poor guy you dragged around… he probably queued forever to get in! There will be a hate post on some forum somewhere about you now ;)

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