On the brink of extinction
Gears of War 2 ended with the destruction of Jacinto, the last remaining human city on the earth-like planet on which the series is set, and the remaining survivors now reside on a converted aircraft carrier called Raven's Nest. In the final chapter of this epic third person shooter series, mankind is on the verge of annihilation.
But despite their bleak outlook and small number, the human soldiers of Delta squad continue to wage war against the nightmarish Locust Horde of the first two games. They’re rewarded with fresh hope of salvation when they receive word that Adam Fenix - the father of legendary combatant and series protagonist Marcus – isn’t dead as previously thought and may have found a means to destroy their great enemies.
A new threat emerges
As if Delta squad didn’t have enough on their plates already, Gears of War 3 introduces the Lambent, a mutated variant of Locust created from prolonged exposure to an energy source known as Imulsion. Like the Locust, the Lambent come in numerous forms and sizes, from scuttling critters called Polyps to giant shape-shifting foes named Drudges, all of which are extremely hostile.
Some Lambent possess tentacle-like appendages capable of extending to player cover positions that would have been regarded as safe spots in previous Gears of War games. This means that at points you’ll need to be on the move constantly to evade harm. The Lambent are indiscriminate killers too, meaning Locust are on their menu as well as humans, suggesting three way battles could play a major role in the game.
Despite their bleak outlook and small number, the human soldiers of Delta squad continue to wage war...
Delta squad haven’t been sitting still since Gears of War 2 though, having learnt a few fresh tricks and acquired some new weaponry of their own. Launched from cover positions, flying kick takedowns can be employed to turn defence into attack, while a new move dubbed bag ‘n’ tag lets players attach a live grenade to an enemy and then shove them toward a group of their squad mates.
On the weapons front, a sawn-off shotgun and a Pendulum Lancer have been introduced. The latter is a powerful version of the assault rifle used by Delta squad in previous Gears of War games, but it features an attached bayonet rather than a chainsaw. Arguably the most significant addition to your arsenal though is the Silverback, a heavily-armed, mobile exoskeleton that you can strap your character into. Boasting a rocket launcher and chaingun for attacking moves, the Silverback can also be transformed into immobile steel cover for defensive purposes.
Previous series entries strived to offer social gameplay experiences across both their campaigns and multiplayer modes, and Gears of War 3 is no exception. Its main story supports four-player co-operative play, meaning you and three friends can team up together to play through the entire game online. Another welcome addition is the ability to swap weapons and ammo with your team-mates, meaning you shouldn’t be left short of firepower in sticky situations. Refreshingly, you’ll also be given the opportunity to play as a variety of characters throughout the game – some familiar and some new – including female soldiers for the first time.
Delta squad haven’t been sitting still since Gears of War 2 though, having learnt a few fresh tricks...
A full list of online multiplayer modes has yet to be revealed, but Gears of War 2 favourite Horde - which challenges you and your friends to take out wave after increasingly tough wave of Locust enemies - will return alongside a newly announced game type called Beast. This mode sees you play as the monsters, facing up to waves of computer controlled human opponents. Unlike Horde, Beast gives you infinite respawns and lets you select from a wide variety of unockable characters, each of which has their own handling and unique abilities. Gears of War 3 should also feature staple multiplayer modes – or variations of them – such as deathmatch and team deathmatch.
Recent demonstrations and hands-on time with Gears of War 3 have demonstrated that the game’s shaping up really well. It’s also looking gorgeous too, featuring more varied and colourful environments than its predecessors, all of which has been achieved well in advance of the title’s April 2011 release, meaning there’s plenty of time left to add even more polish.
While the finer plot details and other new features are still being kept under wraps, Gears of War 3 looks set to deliver the blockbuster spectacle and action the series is known for. And with New York Times bestselling author Karen Travis signed on to lead the title’s scriptwriting, it should also push the story to another level as it wraps up loose ends and brings a close to one of the defining Xbox 360 franchises.