Gears of War 3: under the killing moon

Title Gears of War 3: under the killing moon
Author Jason McMaster
Posted in Game diaries
When September 21, 2011

The time is finally at hand. I have my copy of Gears of War 3 installed on my shiny, new Gears themed console..

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Tex Murphy needs a reboot.

so many awful writers on this site. so, very, many. I miss fidgit so much

American McGee's Tex Murphy

Tex Murphy for the win. I cant believe they still haven't made it easier to get XBL working properly with a strict nat setup, and all the documentation available mentions ports that are not even used. It is just horrible.

It's just end up a first person shooter.

Wait, what? Who plays through the campaign of a game whose story they care about the first time on co-op? Why would you ruin a story like that?

First you play SP, that way you get all the story beats, and can be immersed in the atmosphere. Co-op is for the missions you've already beaten, so it doesn't matter when you talk over the exposition and tell jokes during the emotional scenes.

That's my opinion and all other opinions are invalid and wrong. :P

Never has Tom Chick's opinion of a game been so deeply wrong Jason. Please explain to him what I think you know: that the Game Comes First and that when it comes to level/encounter design, simple-deep mechanics, friction and A.I. that Gears is king of the dern castle.

I think you're missing the key point of your article, Jason. Namely that your wife needs to send the FX2 folks her gamertag and a friend request so that she can get her wizard robes.

I finished the first two Gears (PC for #1 and I definitely appreciated the expanded elements in the PC version, such as the Brumak encounter; 360 for #2). They were enjoyable, but there were nothing in there that I can recall as phenomenal level/encounter design and any mechanics beyond cover. I played both in co-op campaign, with a friend, and have never replayed the campaign, nor loaded the multiplayer ever, so take the below with that in mind.

I can remember various encounters in the game, such as the General fight towards the end of #1, the Brumak mentioned, the end encounter of #2 (which was very lame and easy beyond belief), the giant strider beasts you get on in the Locust prison areas, the Queen (and man, that was lame), The flood-infected locusts...maybe T, wait, "Imulsion" ;-) However, none of them seemed different than tons of other games of this style. There was no moment I felt they did something special or above and beyond what is formulaic for the genre.

Instead, I found each encounter to be highly telegraphed and from a very narrow angle of attack. I would just find cover, because you knew when and from where an attack was going to happen and then wait for them to arrive. The set-piece environments are generic "abandoned industrial/gothic/ornate" or "cavern".

The mechanics, which you - correctly - stated as simple are hardly deep. You cover, heal rapidly, pop-up, shoot. With 2 guys you can easily cover the entire angle of attack in an overwhelmingly large part of the first two games. I can't even imagine how 4 players would find a challenge. In co-op, my friend and I played on auto-pilot for the first two games, because it took so little thought and offered so little surprise. So where is the depth? I never ran out of ammo and only ever switched a weapon if a heavy locust dropped something I wanted, like the mortar gun or what not.

The AI does nothing that I recall as good; they let you shoot them, they don't work as teams, flush and flank you or anything else that might be the "I" in AI.

Where is there friction? You mean in the story? There was rarely any tension in actual combat; just shooting, healing, shooting.

Again, I enjoyed the time I spent in the games; they were bug-free, polished, ran cleanly, but they are "popcorn cinema"; you tune-in and tune-out. There's nothing deep or original, just good fun shooting things (or using a chainsaw-gun), explosions and being the Good Guy. I'm perfectly fine with that in a game, but I don't pretend to say it's the King of any Castle just because the development or budget is one of the largest in the land.

The way they handle four players at once is by introducing enemies that are too big, too armored or too lethal to let one person take them down alone. The gunkers are armored and have a crab claw attack thing that can down you in one hit on Normal difficulty. The baby corpsers are fast and heavily armored, meaning someone has to kind of kite them around while everyone else fires. The brumak is, well, friggin' huge.

Personally, I find the idea of a bullet sponges highly annoying. The fact that your AI squad can't prioritize targets to save their life certainly doesn't help.

Ok, so I have to take quite a bit of issue, here!

You're confusing simplicity with superficiality. Nobody would argue that the game offers more than a handful of mechanics (taking and maneuvering between cover, breaking cover to shoot, throwing grenades, active reloading, etc.) However mechanics are meaningless without context, which in the case of videogames is provided by level design:

Given competent enemies of sufficient variety and 'combat bowls' of sufficient breadth, concepts like flanking, suppression, area-of-denial and smoke-screening emerge naturally. It's the interplay between core mechanics, enemy A.I. and encounter design in which the game finds depth. Given the possible combinations of weapons, enemy types and positions, level geometry and pacing etc. it's not difficult to extrapolate at the very least the potential for huge depth, whether or not you believe the first two games meet it.

Or: the game lies in the creative and varied application of simple actions.

I agree that this gameplay loop wasn't exploited fully in the first 2 games, but most areas were up to task. There're consistently multiple avenues of approach; a constant drip-feed of new factors like lowerable cover or weapons that circumvent cover altogether; or players are split up and asked to co-operate asynchronously. Fighting up a flight of stairs to a manor house and then holding it from the hordes is a memorable example.

The A.I is as intelligent and as aggressive as is required: when an enemy takes fire from a flank, it repositions accordingly; when a player breaks cover to retreat it will give chase to punish. While never individually as dangerous as the player, in their myriad combinations they provide a varied and interesting challenge.

(When I talk about friction I mean the feel/handling of the guns, the weight of the characters, the feedback from hitting cover, nailing an active reload, etc.)

Gears 3, iterates on this combat model again and again until it practically exhausts itself. If you enjoy even the concept of what Gears offers, I'd recommend it and then some.

So many anonymous cocksuckers on the Internet.

SO 8===D VERY 8===D MANY

It is pretty horrible. I have to restart my router quite a bit

It's every assholes God given right to harass people anonymously on the
Internet. That way you can tear someone down without having to prove
that you can do better.

The AI and combat are both excellent in Gears 3. If you liked Horde, there's no reason to not pick this up

I'm intrigued. I didn't know that could happen!

Yup. All of the superscores of your friends add up with your own to be your wizard score. Get it high enough, and you unlock an outfit for your avatar.

I think your wrong. Gears 3 campaign changed my life and the story is incredible.