First off, I have never played a Gears game until recently. Not that I have anything against the franchise, its just that we were two ships passing in the night -- that, and I am without an Xbox 360.
I had the opportunity to play three of the multiplayer modes -- Team Deathmatch, Beast, and Horde Mode --
ahead of the game's full release next week.
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Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
To be released: September 20, 2011
Team Deathmatch should be self-explanatory, but if you don't know yet, it pits five against five in a duel to the death and the last team standing wins. One aspect of this multiplayer mode that really struck a chord with me is that the team has to share lives. So if there are only 15 re-spawns available and you have someone on your team who really sucks, your chances of coming back to the game can be severely hindered.
The maps themselves are small and intimate; the action can go from really fast-paced to a more strategic shoot out from opposite corners. They are all gorgeous, with an insane variety of landscapes for you to impale your opponents against.
Of course, in those killing modes there are a wide variety of types to play in. King of the Hill is a territory based mode where you have to keep control of an area for the longest to win. Wingman is a two on two on two on two single-elimination deathmatch. Capture the Leader is where your team has to capture and hold the opposing team's leader until they win. Execution and Warzone are both back with their single-elimination play and killing fast and accurately is crucial to these modes.
Horde Mode is for those of you who have time. There are fifty waves of enemies that you will have to strategically defend against. This mode, if you are not careful, could take a few hours so keep your bedpans nearby. It was fun to be forced to work together as a team, planning who should be in charge of building barriers and decoys in the map. Our group was wasted around the 16th round -- not too bad for having little to no communication.
Beast Mode is what got me on the hook. I've never had the chance to play another type of mode like this before. I loved the fact that you had to work together as a team. You take control of one of the creatures in Gears of War 3, each with their own ability. The balancing of their abilities is crucial for your team to destroy the humans in 12 rounds. According to the developers, the quality assurance team was able to get through all the rounds within approximately 15 minutes.
After playing this game as a new person to the franchise, I finally get it. "It" being why people love this game. In some ways, I feel that Gears of War might have been one of the titles that helped the Xbox 360 in its earlier days of Live to have such a robust online community.
I felt compelled to actually work and talk with my teammates in the game instead of other first-person shooters where you can just log on and ignore everyone and still have a moderate amount of fun. Yes, there is still the stigma of this being a "Hey Bro Dude!" kind of game, but that is okay -- it is still kicks ass.
The only questionable aspect I had seen is that, in the customization menu, you have the option to change skins, and many of those options had a little dollar symbol on them. After clicking on a icon, I was brought to the marketplace menu. I guess that is one way to get a little more buck for your bang.
Of course, now I want to get the super hyped Gears of War 3 Xbox 360 and pick up the past two titles. This is going to be quite an expensive year and we haven't even hit the Christmas season yet. If you want to check out more about this game, get ready for Jim's review tomorrow!