Hi folks, time for a quick look at the Gears Of War 3 beta. Its been up and running for those who have the Epic Edition of Bulletstorm since the 18th so lets have a butchers.
At present, there is 1 gametype (team deathmatch) played over 2 maps. Whilst that doesn't sound like much its a good way to get intimate with the available maps and is no doubt providing Epic with oodles of delicious data they can use for tweaking and balancing. As the weeks progress more gametypes, maps and unlocks will become available.
Checkout is set in an abandoned shopping mall and is full of dilapidated shelves, rubble, sofas and a little machine playing what is usually tacky supermarket muzak but in this case is a perverse and creepy version of the main Gears Of War theme tune. Out of both the maps on the beta this one is perhaps my favourite. It's layout really increases tension and the speed of the matches, it's by no means a large map by Gears standards but that keeps the combat rolling and thats a bloody good thing.
Next up is Thrashball. Set in a medium sized stadium, replete with bleachers, team tunnels and an amazingly large 4 sided scoreboard. As the match progresses this giant screen begins to drop and dangle by it's final thread until, when low enough, it can be shot. Anyone under that screen is in for a bad day when it touches down. So far I have managed to kill 1 person in this fashion, sadly it was a team mate. Out of the 2 maps available Thrashball is probably the better looking of the 2 but, alas it has a flaw which I will delve into below.
As any Gears fan will know the Warzone/Execution gametype has gone under a few changes. Changes that start with the name and end with the removal of the 1 life per round rule.
The benefit of this is that should you decide to rush that power weapon and find yourself sprayed across a wall a mere 6 seconds after the round began you are no longer out of action until the next round. It's a great thing to know you can experiment with your tactics, try something a little wild and still be in the game in less than 12 seconds.
The only negative I have experienced with the new game rules is spawn camping. Anyone who has played any shooter ever will know that this is a long standing problem with and wouldn't really be worth my time mentioning if it wasn't for Thrashball and it's utterly stupid power weapon placement. Sat in the middle of the map, high enough above the tunnels where each team spawns, sits a mulcher (massive, powerful chain gun) which when collected by a team with an i.q. in the double figures leads to total dominance of the opposing team. Hopefully this will be something Epic can change before release as it has been the single most annoying thing in the game all week.
Get used to seeing this unholy, twin barrelled, juice creating monstrosity for about half a second before you are evaporated in a shower of gore and profanity. I'm in the camp that says Gears is all about the shotgun. Who wants to hide behind cover, taking pot shots at people when you can use that cover to get close and do bad things to your opponent? This weapon gets 3 Thumbs Up from me. Nah fuck it, I give this weapon 68 Thumbs Up.
Other new weapons available in the beta are the incendiary grenade which burns (duh) any combatant it touches and leaves a nice patch of fire on the floor for anyone to walk through. Then there is the digger which fires a little locust beastie that burrows into the ground in a straight line and jumps out when it detects enemy meat, where it then explodes. My advice? Grab that digger and get close to someone then fire it at their heads. You will like it, I promise you.
The final addition in the beta's armoury is the retro lancer. This assault rifle is the predecessor to the chainsawed rifle we know and love. It's wildly inaccurate and requires the player to fan their finger on the trigger to compensate for its recoil. It's saving grace is it's awesome execution which sees the player charge headlong into the enemy, gore them in the stomach and lift them to the heavens where they presumably have a nice cream tea with Jesus.
And thats about it for this blog. There's plenty more I wanted to cover such as the badges, pins, unlocks, comprehensive stat tracking pages and generally how fucking awesome it is to play a Gears game that isn't ruined by some assholes shitty dial up connection, but that will have too wait and I'm sure you're all busy playing Portal and I need some breakfast.