Videogame Verdict: Gears of War 3 Initial Impressions

It’s been almost three years since the COG last got down to the bloody business of saving mankind from the Locust. A lot’s happened in the videogame industry since then, so how does the Xbox exclusive ‘Gears of War 3’ stand up? Has Epic Games revamped ‘GoW3’ to make it feel like something new? Does it go the way of ‘Call of Duty’ and give fans more of the same, only with a bit of polish here and there? Or is this the first ‘GoW’ game to just blow?

OK, let’s go through the checklist of things that make a ‘Gears of War’ game awesome: Blood and guts? Check, and a BIG check. Groovy third person controls? Check, and even a little tighter than the last game. Co-op? Check, a glorious 4-person online and 2-person couch co-op check! New enemies and decent boss fights? Check. Scenes where you ride in a vehicle or aircraft? Check. Vehicles that you can operate? Check. Multi-player and Horde Mode? Check and Check. That’s a lot of checks. Did I leave anything out? Oh, right, how could I forget? Cheesy incomprehensible story? Check.

Well, that last check should only be a half a check. Yes, the story is very silly, but I think Epic Games went the opposite direction with this game as to make the story so accessible it’s just trite. There are a TON of cut-scenes that range from interesting to confusing to downright mindless. The voice acting is at about the same level, which is to say slightly below average – except for a surprise voice actor (you may very well know his identity, but I won’t spoil it for you here) whose character you meet about midway through, and who, despite being a mediocre screen actor, does a fabulous job here.

I have only two real complaints, one is pretty big and the other is nitpicky. Let’s start small. Videogame manuals have never really been that helpful, but if there is one thing they all MUST do, they have to allow the player to quickly get a good bead on the Heads-Up Display and the controls. Epic has tried something fairly progressive here, where you only get a bi-fold insert that simply shows you the control layout and gives you a web address to see the full manual. OK, I like the idea. However, while the online manual is very complete, it is SUPER clunky. I really liked how complete and informative the other games’ manuals were. I suppose that, since not much has changed, you could basically pull out the ‘GoW2’ manual, but that brings me to my big complaint.

‘Gears of War’ has definitely gone down that ‘Call of Duty’ route in terms of innovation and diversification. I had a feeling of déjà vu throughout the entire game. Sure, there are new enemies and new bosses and new areas, but a lot of it looks very similar to what we’ve seen before. It looks like Epic Games tried to brighten the game’s image as well as broaden the color palette with a splash of green or yellow here and there. This is a very welcome change. However, the color scheme is still VERY heavily bent on light brown, brown, dark brown, gray, dark gray and black. This isn’t to say that ‘GoW3’ doesn’t look the best out of all the games in the franchise. It certainly does. But I just never really liked how plain and non-vibrant most of it looks. The game mechanics and controls are also near identical, which was expected, and the few tweaks are appreciated. I’ll go into more detail about the sameness of the series in a follow-up post.

I’ve played about half way through, with two additional players, in online co-op. On the “Normal” difficulty, that equates to about eight hours so far. So, what are my initial impressions? The refinements are nice, but the story is goofy. Sure, it’s the same tune, but it’s just as badass. My initial impressions have been good and I’m looking forward to finishing the game. Stay tuned for the wrap up!


  1. How is everyone getting that much time out of this game? IGNs review said it was a 15 to 20 hour game, I played the whole thing through with 3 other guys and we pounded out the story mode in 7 1/2 hours on Hardcore difficulty. So I’m not sure how people are coming up with such large numbers to beat the game by.

    I guess liking or disliking the palate is a matter of taste, but the game is supposed to look like that, the whole planet is on the brink of total destruction, what else would it look like?

    Either way, I was disappointed with the end because some very important story elements werent answered, but overall I’ve loved the trilogy. Multiplayer is amazing this time around, they refined, fixed and made better just about every aspect from Gears 2, maps from the beta were more refined based on suggestions and they all flow better than they did in the beta, Horde mode is way more fun now, earning money and setting up barriers, turrets and having big boss battles every 10 levels, I havent got around to beast mode but I’ve heard its a lot of fun too, finally playing as the locusts and upgrading your guys to take out the COG. Team Deathmatch is much better than it ever was and the game mechanics are much faster and discrete than Gears 2 was, lag is almost non-existent with the dedicated servers, not once did I feel like I was playing Black Ops and getting the shaft because of HOST lag problems, almost every match has been very fair and even when I lose its a spectacular match all the way.

    Definitely glad I picked this up, it was probably my most anticipated release and I havent been disappointed so far 🙂

  2. Wayne Rowe

    Thanks for the note Chaz!

    [long time through game] When you say “pounded out the story mode” were you just cranking through it? We’ve been doing a lot of searching and picking up the COGs and Collectibles. I’m sure that has added an hour or two. That and one of our guys seems to get killed a lot. 🙂

    [color palette] A matter of taste, agreed. I can think of plenty of “on the brink of destruction” movies and games that were very colorful. I think it was distracting in the first two games as locusts and other set pieces blended in because of the slight hues in brown were the only discerning features. It’s better in 3, but it’s still very drab/blendy

    [story] Yeah, but then, we aren’t really playing GoW for the story are we? 🙂

    [multiplayer] I never really got into anything multiplayery other then Horde mode in 2, but LOVED it. And you are TOTALLY right, multiplayer in 3, has been AWESOME!

    Thanks again for the note Chaz!

  3. Well story wise, Gears is a lot like the old 80s action movies, just enough to care about these guys but most of it is total cheese, gruff lines, rough delivery and plenty of sarcastic one liners, just what I like in my action movies/games 🙂

    Yeah we did some searching, not a ton of it but we found probably half (sometimes more) of the collectibles on each level and we still took a short amount of time to get through it all

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