October 12, 2011
Gears of War 3. The final game in the trilogy has been out for a few weeks now and it’s fantastic. It was developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Studios on September 20, 2011. The final game in the trilogy brings closure, has an astounding amount of content, and retains the solid gameplay that the series is known for.
Being the third game in a trilogy, Gears of War 3 was scheduled to close the series, and there is closure! I played the co-op campaign with my friend over a few days. We tried to stick to completing one act a day, but after completing the fourth act we decided to go ahead and complete the fifth and final act. They varied in length, but they were all about two hours, which was excellent for the way we played the game.
Set a year or two after Gears of War 2, the campaign revolved around Marcus Fenix finding his father who was previously thought dead. His father probably has a way to destroy the locust and lambent that are plaguing Sera, hopefully saving humanity. But, Marcus and crew have to figure out where he is and how to get there. Their path takes Marcus and his allies through a lot of locales, but as has been the case with the previous games, most are destroyed cities. There were a few memorable environments that broke with tradition however, and for the first time in the series, I felt like there was a broader color palette in the game; rather than a muddle of grays.
Mentioning memorable environments reminds me of a memorable moment in the game. About halfway through the campaign, there was a very serious moment that affects the rest of the game. It was especially serious having played through the entire trilogy and developing a sort of affection for the series. This moment was tonally very different from the usual bro-like mentality of the series and it was handled phenomenally.
So Marcus and crew go through memorable (and sometimes different) environments and there is a special moment about halfway through the game, but what about the ending? Well I found it satisfying. I’ve heard people complain about unanswered questions and I honestly wonder what they’re referring to. That doesn’t mean I can’t gin up some questions because I can, but if I wanted to know the answers to my questions, perhaps they could be answered in the Gears of War books, I don’t know. I do know that the Gears of War trilogy revolved around Marcus Fenix attempting to save humanity, and in that regard, Gears of War 3 brings definitive closure.
After completing the campaign, my friend and I have focused our attention to horde mode. Originating in Gears of War 2, I didn’t play much of it back then, but I do know things have changed. The basic premise is the same: enemies attack in waves and the players try to survive as long as possible and rack up points for kills. We could also install traps that would damage enemies, decoys to distract them, and many other helpful tools.
Besides just racking up points, money is now an issue in horde mode. Those traps, decoys, and other miscellaneous helpful tools cost money, which is received for fulfilling special tasks, by killing enemies, and at the end of each wave. As my friend and I played we each had our own favorite tools to purchase. I liked spike strips and traps that would damage and slow down our enemies while he loved installing turrets. All of these tools were divided into categories that would level up and allow us access to better tools, cheaper tools, whatever.
Besides the inclusion of money and the tools that brought along, horde mode now features a boss wave every tenth wave. The bosses were randomly picked and they were much tougher than the standard enemies. We saw many different boss waves as we continually died on wave 30. We preferred fighting against the Brumak because he was so large and slow, but we rarely saw him. We went up against a small Corpser often, as well as a few lambent Berserkers, our least favorite. It wasn’t just the bosses we’d have to fight on these waves though; there’d be plenty of small and medium tier enemies too that could prove troublesome if we didn’t manage them.
There is a new mode similar to horde mode called beast mode. We haven’t played this yet, but from the descriptions I’ve heard it sounds like a cross between horde mode and the multiplayer from Left 4 Dead. Instead of playing as the humans, in beast mode players play as the locust and the lambent. There are only 12 waves in beast mode (compared with the 50 in horde mode) so I don’t imagine it’s structured in the exact same way. I assume we get to pick who we play as because there are many types of different enemies.
Now onto the versus mode. While I personally like the series for the campaign (co-op specifically) a lot of people pick the game up just for the multiplayer and this time around it’s sucked me in more than it has in the past. There is a good selection of modes and maps in the multiplayer as well as the ability to play locally with a friend or bots. A lot of the modes are common to third-person and first-person action games; team deathmatch, king of the hill as well as other familiar modes are present so it’s easy to jump in, with practice at least. I feel like there’s a relatively high learning curve in the multiplayer, but playing locally is good practice.
That’s basically versus in a nutshell. I’m really not all that into versus multiplayer myself, but I’ve had a bunch of fun with the game. It’s definitely way better with people you know. My friend and I have played a bunch of the local multiplayer. We stick to team deathmatch and load it full of bots on the highest difficulty, although they’re still really dumb, sometimes allowing the opposite team to heal themselves. But we have found it to be very competitive between the two of us; keeping track of matches, and games, and the overall sets; it’s very entertaining.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, Gears of War 3 is simply more Gears of War. There are minor differences and refinements but it’s more of the same and that’s just want I wanted. The shooting was solid and the weapons feel much more unique than they ever have. The campaign was lengthy and satisfying, and I didn’t even mention competing for scores and playing with mutators in arcade mode or the four-player co-op! The multiplayer modes are plentiful with a variety or competitive and co-operative options, and the number of unlockables and achievements will keep people busy for a very long time. Gears of War 3 is a fantastic action game.
February 3, 2011
Bulletstorm is the next game from Epic Games, the studio behind Unreal and Gears of War among others. It’s being co-developed by a subsidiary of Epic Games, People Can Fly, themselves known for the PC first-person shooter, Painkiller.. As the demo starts Grayson Hunt, the main character, introduces himself and a little about the game, all the while harassing the player; from the get go, Bulletstorm looks to be a dumb, offensive, madcap, and ultimately, fun game.
The demo consists of one level, and as Grayson Hunt and crew make it to the end they have to kill with skill. Instead of playing out like a standard FPS where you’re solely focused on getting from A to B, Bulletstorm is more interested in you killing enemies in creative ways and giving you more points for doing so; it’s more about getting a high score, then reaching the end of a level. I can tell that the leaderboards will be one of the more interesting aspects to Bulletstorm and will keep players coming back. There will be a story mode, and while I assume from the demo that the story will be over-the-top zany and provide an entertaining experience, what draws me towards Bulletstorm is the potential competition between friends, and if there were to be a challenge room type mode where you play individual levels, attempting only to best your friends’ scores, that would be very appealing.
There are only three side arms in the demo, but they are all extremely deadly, and that’s before taking advantage of their alternate fires, producing even more gruesome results. Besides the standard weapons, Grayson Hunt also has a whip-like item that grabs enemies and jolts them towards you, with time slowing down when they’re right in front of you. It’s very easy to utilize and I used it as a beginner to combos. Afterwards, I’d kick the enemy away and unload on them, headshots on their flailing bodies, ripping their bodies apart with explosives, or by just shooting them into some dastardly part of the environment.
The demo took place in a destroyed city full of rubble and debris, which leads me to believe Bulletstorm will take place in war-torn environments. The environment in the demo was quite drab, but the game as a whole looks to be brighter than the Gears of Wars games, a complaint of mine towards them. Bulletstorm will be a very vulgar game, the violence is ridiculous, and the profanity is profound, with the demo combining profanities for interesting results, for example, at the end of the demo Grayson Hunt called me dick-tits and suggested that the game wasn’t going to pre-order itself; yet it’s easy to not take offense at the game’s vulgarity, Bulletstorm is crude, but the tone of everything is humorous and cheeky.
I’d stayed in the dark about Bulletstorm up until now; it didn’t interest me at first glance but after playing the demo I can see that Bulletstorm is a quality game with a unique combination of gameplay mechanics that provide for an enjoyable time. The story looks to be a dumb, over-the-top, fun time, and I’m sure the multiplayer will be seriously good, but the real draw for me will be the competition between friends on the leaderboards.