Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Gears of War 3! First Impressions: Boombox Breasts and Daddy Issues!

Today saw one of the biggest, stockiest, heavily-armoured, stereo-speaker-titted, videogame releases of 2011! I am, of course, talking about the testosterone-soaked juggernaut Gears of War 3, a game that 95% of the Internet has already reviewed, because real news sites get early access, and I bought it this afternoon, and am only up to Act 2. However! If we wait until I finish the campaign and master multiplayer before I comment on it, then it will already be in post-Christmas bargain bins for $9.95. So let's climb in and have a poke around at what I've found so far...

"MMmmm! A freshly fired Lancer is so warm against my crotch!"
Join me after the jump for my initial impressions! (There'll probably be minor spoilers, but nothing too specific. So be a man! What would Marcus Fenix do? Probably blast some hip-hop out of his tits!).

One of the most frustrating things for me about modern games is getting started. You know there's going to be a semi tutorial, and you're going to have to learn every single ability one by one, and there'll be lots of cutscenes and dialogue (probably unskippable), and someone will say something like, "Oh you're awake! Follow me down this long corridor while I talk to you about all the things that have changed since you had your nap!" It's a stark contrast from retro games which went, "OH SHIT! JUMP YOU IDIOT! THAT MONKEY IS THROWING BARRELS AT YOU!"

Gears of War 3 falls somewhere in the middle. It doesn't take too long to get started but through some of the opening explanations I had a bit of an itchy trigger finger. "COME ON! I JUST PAID $70 FOR YOU! LET ME PLAY YOU!" It's all important stuff we have to know though, and they do weave in an incredibly trippy and inventive action dream sequence. You see, Marcus Fenix might appear like a gruff, scarred, hardass, but deep, deep, deep, deep, deep inside that craggy exterior, he's just a scared little boy who misses his dear departed daddy. But what's this!? Intel looks like Daddy might not actually be dead! Daddy Fenix is alive and OH SHIT! WHO IS BLOWING APART OUR SHIP?! I HOPE IT'S NOT THAT BARREL-MONKEY!

The lambent's attack our mighty sea vessel with their extra-terrestrial tendrils and all sorts of crazy shenanigans go down. You're thrust into varied and well-designed levels and you get to experiment with new hardware as you battle some never-seen-before beasts and environmental hazards. There are plenty of cut-scenes to propel the action forward but they're mercifully kept brief and never seem to intrusive. It's not the fastest start, but by the time you are up on deck battling the big bad, things are getting awfully jolly.

And that's not all! We then jump back one hour and play as Cole "COLE-TRAIN" Cole and we see what he was doing while all this was going down. That's a cracking adventure in a unique environment of its own, and as it progresses it cleverly converges with Marcus' story, weaving the two together so that they share an epic climax. I just said that Cole and Marcus share an epic climax. Fist bump, bro! And these six jam-packed levels all add up to make Act One! Out of five! That's TOTALLY INTENSE!

Oh! And there are lady Gears of War now too! And one of them has an Australian accent that makes me want to drown myself in a billabong. Ouch.

The game is expansive and looks absolutely incredible, but here's where I'll criticize it the tiniest bit. While it's clearly polished and impressive (and fun!), from a gameplay perspective it doesn't really give you anything that different to do. At least not in the first act. You're still going to sluggishly charge into a large room, take cover behind a conveniently placed low wall, and shoot at bad guys who are leaping out of the ground towards you. I guess that is Gears of War, but at times I find myself asking, "What am I really doing here? How much of the really impressive stuff is the game doing for me?"

For example: (heavier SPOILERS) a giant leviathan attacks the ship and repeatedly smashes its tentacles through the hull in front of me. It looks awesome, but it's all fully scripted, and I can't shoot and damage it - or effect it any way - I'm just continuing to take cover and shoot at the regular guys. And when I go and confront the boss I'm still just shooting at its glowing eyes (a weakness!) to take it down, like I've done a billion times before. And will likely do a billion times again. (End SPOILERS).

It's why the less polished Bulletstorm is one of my favourite shooters of the year, because it added unique mechanics. You had that crazy whip thing that could fling people into the air or pull them towards you, and you could slide along the ground - like a reckless idiot - until you satisfyingly collided into something. So far, Gears 3 isn't inventing anything, although that doesn't mean it won't. I recall that it took me a good while to warm to Gears of War 2, but once that game got going it led me into some really unexpected situations. With a solid four acts of Gears 3 left, I'm still very optimistic about where it's going to take me.

I'm currently one level into Act 2 and I really like where this is heading. It was hard to put down, but I plan to stretch it out a little. And if you've ever heard Gears creator Cliffy B interviewed then you'll know that he is an incredibly sharp bastard who puts a great deal of thought into these things, so I have total faith that he'll make it happen for me. It's a huge game. So far so good.

1 comment:

  1. I still have a couple hours until I can play, definitely looking forward. Also just found out that theres a season pass for the games DLC that includes some campaign expansions. $30 US, sounds pretty tempting