Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 Review

  Kid Safe: Very Low (2.0  / 10)*                        Game Quality: Very High (9.0 / 10)
                  (FILTERS AVAILABLE)                                                ---------------------

Genre: Third-Person Shooter
-           This game is characterized by the viewpoint and weapons used in the title. In a third-person shooter, you are looking over your character's shoulder. Likewise, as the term "shooter" implies, the game specifically focuses on the use of a number of different firearms, knives, explosives, and a variety of other weaponry.

Internet Requirements: High
-          Gears of War 3 features a relatively high amount of internet requirements due to a host of online game-modes as well as a list of upcoming downloadable content which will only be sold via the internet. As far as the game-modes go, this title offers, aside from the regular story, four  major game types that allow players to go head to head against each other in "versus mode" or team up with up to 3 other gamers to fight off the Locust horde, hunt down the human soldiers, or experience the game's story together.

Story Summary:
-          In Gears of War 3, you follow the story of Delta Squad, a rough and rugged team of "COG" soldiers. Picking up two years after the end of Gears of War 2, you find that Delta Squad and their shipmates are one of the few pockets of humanity left alive on the Planet of Sera. After Delta Squad flooded the home of the dreaded Locust Horde, the mutant Lambent monsters have been slowly tearing the world apart, leaving both humans and Locust to strive to survive on a dying planet. To make things worse, the Lambent have attacked Delta Squad's floating home on the sea and Marcus Fenix, the group's leader, has found out that his father, once believe dead, is actually alive and being held prisoner. The group now must go on a harrowing journey across the ruined planet to rescue Fenix's father and save Sera from the fate it has befallen.

Kid Safe: Very Low (2.0 / 10)* (FILTERS AVAILABLE)
-          Foul Language: Very High - Not Recommended for Children*
o   Gears of War 3 contains a very high amount of foul language in the form of the following words: "d*mn", "h*ll", "a*s", "p*ss", "s*it", "b*tch", "b*stard", "f*ck", and variations of the above such as "a*shole" and "motherf*cker". These words are heard regularly from most all of the human characters, especially the main characters, "Delta Squad". These words are heard both in regular dialogue between characters as well as during combat situations. Foul language often has little bearing on emotional dilemmas such as pain, frustration, or anger and can be heard as an interjection amongst normal conversations and dialogue.

o   SPECIAL NOTE: Gears of War 3 is one of the very few titles that we have reviewed that offers a "mature content filter" for foul language. This does exactly what it sounds like and filters out the main majority of foul language so that it is not present throughout gameplay. Any foul words that would be heard become simply "bleeps" while any foul language that may be read, specifically in captioned dialogue, turn into ***'s. While this will occasionally chop up the conversations due to the game's regularly heavy presence of foul language, it is a welcome change if a younger player is looking to enjoy it.

-          Violence and Gore: Very High - Not Recommended for Children*
o   Gears of War 3 features a incredibly high amount of violence of gore. As a third person shooter, the game has a major focus on the usage of firearms in order to maim and kill your enemies. Players will use a wide variety of weaponry which include, but are not limited to, pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, machine guns, mini-guns, gauss cannons, flamethrowers, grenades, and chainsaws to accomplish this. Players will not fight other humans in the story mode, only in online-multiplayer mode, however they will be fighting human like monsters which include the Locust Horde, a group of troglodyte-esque humanoids, and the Lambent, a radioactive mutation of both humans and Locusts that turn enemies into glowing, mutated versions of both species. Players are unable to harm innocent civilians.

o   Combat is a major focus in this title and that's where the majority of gore happens. Based on the type of weapon that a player uses, different effects will occur. With Locust monsters, gunshots from the majority of weapons will cause blood to spray from the enemy in gouts until they are killed and fall over. There is a random chance that shots to the head will cause the enemy's head to explode in a spray of blood. Likewise, the use of heavier weapons like grenades and gauss cannons can cause an enemy to explode in a display of gore in which body parts, limbs, and chunks will be blown every which way. A perfect example was a situation in which I literally "blew him out of his shoes", leaving two severed feet standing where they were and the rest of the body several meters away. Gory situations like this will occasionally leave internal organs clearly visible. The usage of flamethrower or incendiary weapons will cause enemies to slowly burn up, causing them to black and cook, burst into flame, and then die.

o   Lambent monsters will spray yellow sludge as they are shot and, whenever they are killed, will simply explode like a grenade.

o   This game also features a number of "executions" which players can perform both in single player as well as multiplayer content. In these situations, players must "finish off" their opponent. They will often use chainsaws to carve their enemies asunder. Players can also stomp on their opponents had to make them explode or even tear the limbs off of their enemy and beat them to death with them.

o   Aside from combat, there are certain situations that also have a high level of blood and gore. More often these are simply environmental things that have a gruesome tone to it. Examples include cages that are found swinging from a tree which contain the dead bodies of humans. Other examples include human beings that you find have been killed by either Lambent or Locust monsters, their bodies strewn here or there, with blood splatters on walls or floors. Generally these are overlooked, although some cutscenes focus on the corpses. Aside from obvious gore, some scenes also have a gruesome feel to it. In one situation, you are talking to a soldier who is dying of a bullet through the chest; he coughs and sputters blood as he attempts to talk to you and then slowly dies with blood leaking from his mouth.

o   SPECIAL NOTE: Gears of War 3, as we touched on with foul language, features a "mature content filter" for graphic blood and gore. This means that, with the filter in place, the game will not display any of the aforementioned scenes of blood and gore. The game will still, obviously, be fairly violent, however they will not see massive sprays or see people being blown into fleshy chunks. All minor blood is replaced with sparks.
-          Sexually-Related Content: None
o   To the best of the reviewer's knowledge, this title does not contain any scenes of sexually related content.

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Very Low
o   Gears of War 3 features a very low amount of drug and alcohol usage that takes place solely through reference. There are several scenes in which soldiers offer to buy one another a drink/brew for a job well-done. These are not acted upon and are little more than a phrase from one individual to another.

Game Quality:  Very High (9.0 / 10)
-          Graphics / Visuals: Very High
o   Visually, Gears of War 3 actually does a rather impressive job overall; especially in the areas of environments and characters. Environmentally speaking, the developers did an excellent job in creating a wide array of places to explore. Players will be winding their way through the hull of a massive personnel-carrier ship, exploring the ruins of destroyed cities and stadiums, fighting their way through massive Locust strongholds, flying over the land in more-than-slightly-disturbing zeppelins...and that's just in the first couple of hours. Every place that the player goes to has been pain-stakingly crafted and boasts excellent textures, i.e. rock looks like rock, fabric looks like fabric, as well as slightly destructible environments. Bullets implant themselves in stone and fixture or even break and shatter things. All of this aside, the finer details in the game really reflect the subtle elements of the story: everything feels like it's being weakly held together. Ships have been welded and rewelded and plate-welded some more to stay together. Strongholds are made of just about anything that can be found...rock, sheet metal, pieces of cars, etc. It all fits perfectly.

o   Aside from the world itself, the characters are also a treat to look at. Epic Studios has done an excellent job in constantly fine tuning and polishing the design of every character in the game. Just looking at "Delta Squad", these human heroes look and feel as if time has passed. Everyone is very slightly older. They're thinner, more muscled, and generally just look more abused then in earlier titles; something to reflect their change in lifestyle. Facial animations are generally well-done, even if Marcus Fenix needs to have his jaw broken to fix that horrible underbite of his.

o   Even if we aren't talking humans, every creature is a treat to look at. Every monster is well made and even offers slight variations between them so that it doesn't feel like you are being attacked by an army of clone soldiers. Dozens of beasts, both in the Locust Horde and Lambent monstrosities, provide a wide array of creatures to look at, with some so radically different from the others that you always wonder what will be coming next. Massive, hulking "Berserkers" come running at you, the size of a semi-truck, nine foot long "giant centipedes" skitter along the ground to grab at you, flying "Barges" are quite literally a fleshy helium sack that decided to grow a brain and a couple of fanged mouths. Each one is very well done.
-          Audio: High
o   The audio and musical quality in Gears of War 3 is pretty well-done, with one or two minor flaws. Starting off, I would like to take a minute to praise the musical score in this game. While it is very likely not something that will have you out to buy the soundtrack so that you can listen to it to and from your way to work, the pieces compliment the game perfectly. Moving from action packed to slow and depressing and back up to a constant tempo, the music helps to move the action and drama along without missing a beat; not to mention that most of it is orchestral and instrumentally based.

o   With music aside, let's talk about voice acting. Before you think I'm trying to sling mud, allow me to say that everyone did a pretty decent job with what they were given. And what job is that, do you ask? To sound rough and rugged. The team nails it. No questions asked. If you need someone to sound gravelly and intimidating, you've found your brute squad. To their credit, some of the actors are also able to pull off "quiet and contemplative" pretty well, but generally the tone never changes. Again, not their fault, and really more of nitpicking then anything. Nonetheless, the only major problem that comes is probably more of editing than anything. There are more than a couple of situations and dialogues throughout the game in which certain characters sound like they are simply reading off of a sheet rather than actually performing. Now this isn't something that I feel the actors should be blamed for, since most of the lines are well-delivered, but it seems like the editors should have caught this.

-          Gameplay / Playability: High
o   And now the gameplay and playability. Starting off with playability, the game does an ok job in introducing the game to newer players, although it would seem that it simply presumes that the individual has enjoyed a Gears of War before this. The control scheme is all the same as the previous games, so you don't have to worry about that. One problem that I found is that the game fails to provide a proper introduction to combat. While it does tell you how to move around and take cover, it simply drops you into combat right away without any forewarning or training. Once you figure it out, however, the game does a pretty good job in introducing everything else. Literally every weapon you pick up has a full explanation about the gun's background as well as all of its uses that is displayed right away and can be accessed later on (just incase you're wondering about the history of your "Lancer" assault rifle). From there, the difficulty curve is decently steady so that the game constantly gets harder, but not at a pace that will generally cause frustration or displeasure.

o   But what of the gameplay? If I can say so myself, the story is one of the best in the Gears of War series. The original title felt fully focused on Marcus Fenix, the second on Dominic Santiago. I will admit that I expected to find another Fenix focused title because of the "your dad is alive" plot, however what I got was refreshing. The game actually had a strong focus on EVERYONE in the game and really provided a much fresher and more rounded experience where each character in Delta Squad felt a great deal more fleshed out from your insight into them. I think one of the more interesting situations was with the character Cole who, being an old football player (known as Thrashball), is touched by the memory of playing before war had consumed the planet. It's a very simple scene, but incredibly emotional, and was something I personally connected to.

o   Sentiments and story aside, Gears of War does a great job with what it has. If we're just talking about the story mode, the game leads players through a variety of situations that are more than just run here, shoot this thing. Bisecting storylines that have players experiencing multiple sides of the same incident create a fully-rounded understanding of what happened on both sides of an engagement. The usage of turrets, high powered weaponry and, when the opportunity presents itself, stealth to sneak past enemy encampments was also a nice surprise. If we're talking about the online play, I must admit that I am addicted to the new game mode that was just added called "Beast", in which gamers actually play as the Locust Horde attacking the humans; allowing them to see the enemy's viewpoint of the ever popular "Horde mode".
-          Dollar-Value: Very High
o   Overall, Gears of War 3 has a very high dollar-value. First off, the game is the longest in the series, clocking in somewhere between 9 to 12 hours of gameplay, depending on the skill of the player in question; and that's just talking about the story mode. If you factor in the other gameplay modes such as Horde, which can take several hours per play through, and Beast mode, which takes an hour to play through, and the fact that BOTH of these gameplay modes have pretty strong replay value, you are looking at a lot of playtime. This factored in with the generally high quality of the game as well as the presence of mature content filters to reduce the amount of gore and strong language, this game will be worth your bottom dollar. 

-          As a third person shooter, there are few non-mature rated titles of overt quality on the market. Gears of War 2 is always a fair choice as this title also contains the mature content filters that this one does. Nonetheless, if you are alright with mature content, you might check out Army of Two, Resident Evil 5, or Vanquish.

No comments:

Post a Comment