The Gears of War franchise is one of the most celebrated series – it sells consoles, inspires countless forums of discussions and has a fanatical following. So naturally when a taste of a sequel comes along, we all get more than just a little excited.
Epic Games launched the beta in phases and we were lucky enough to get our hands on a beta key from Xbox 360ZA… and happy little COG’s we are!
The Gears of War 3 beta gives fans a look at the tweaks, the new weapons, four maps, three new game modes and brings lady COG, Anya to the battlegrounds.
Graphics and Sound
From the word go it is clear that this is a Gears title, but a dramatically ‘spiff’d’ up one. The look is neat, polished, brighter and very pretty while staying true to its gritty origins. The graphics are crisp, smooth and finely detailed showing the power of the ever popular Unreal game engine at its best. The menus have been neatened and like before, a pleasure to navigate.
The XP scoring and other pop-up’s during matched are more noticeable and there is a ton of pretty ribbons to earn. The new XP or experience system is similar to other big brand shooters, so fans can look forward to tons of XP and leveling up different attributes. There is even weapon skins to be unlocked.
At this point in the beta timetable I have only played on 2 out of the 4 maps – ‘Thrashball’ and ‘Checkout’. The maps seem more spacious than before and more open with ample amount of cover points. ‘Thrashball’ is a heavily damaged Thrashball arena offering plenty of space to run around. ‘Checkout’ is in a department store, with loads of cover points for adrenalin filled close combat. ‘Old Town is a European-inspired villa that’s falling apart and ‘Trenches’ is a beatin’ up madhouse.
The sound, like the visuals, has been polished up a tad and fans will appreciate the new set of Gears one-liners that we have all grown to love. Anya brings a new and fairer voice to the game. Then there is a host of new sounds from new weapons to become familiar with.
It is also evident that the Epic Games team know what fans want and aimed to deliver. The beta implements an increased speed in gameplay, movement is more fluid and the getting in and out of cover never seems to be ‘sticky’. The weapons feel less clunky and smoother to operate than with Gears of War 2.
The controls have been tweaked to feel overall more intuitive, more fluid and work better than with the previous instalment. You now have to hold in ‘x’ to pick up things and hold down the execution buttons, so there is no more ‘fly by’ picking up of ammo or weapons etc. The AI quickly taught me that there will not be any shotgun battles where you are kneeling behind an object with you opponent on the other side, as you can now climb over the object and land on your opponent, damaging them.
The beta features three different play modes: ‘Team Deathmatch’, ‘King of the Hill’, and ‘Capture the Leader’. We know ‘Team Deathmatch’ but now you have 15 respawns before you deplete them leaving you with that life. ‘King of the Hill’ is similar to Annex mode in Gears of War 2, and ‘Capture the Leader’ replaces the flag, which most games feature, with an opponent. You can capture the leader then use the classic Gears ‘meatshield’ to take the rest of the opposing team down.
The weapons in the series are unlike any other shooter, they are an integral part of the Gears experience and the beta showcases the stunning newcomers…
Some of the new Weapons that caught my attention:
The Retro Lancer – Described as something between rifle play and shotgun play, the Retro Lancer has a high stopping power but also high recoil and not as accurate as the modern lancer. When equiped, hold down your ‘B’ button and your character will charge in the direction you’re facing and stab your opponent with the massive knife on the end of the barrel, lifting them off the ground before slamming them into the ground.
Sawed Off Shotgun – The Sawed Off Shotgun, my favourite new weapon is a one-shot-one-kill shottie’ but is only accurate at close range. Fortunatly the damage is vast and wide. The reload time is also extremely long to balance out all that power.
The Digger Launcher – This is a new locust weapon that fires a ‘Piranha-like’ creature into the ground, blazing down the lane in which it is shot to emerges and explodes… sweet.
The One Shot – As the name says, this is a one shot recoilless rifle that is hugely powerful. Very heavy in weight and needs to be “deployed” to be fired using a projected laser to point out the line of fire for its satellite guided ammo.
Incendary Grenade – A COG grenade that explodes on impact. Its party trick is that it ignites in to fire on the floor where it lands, or throw it directly on someone to set them alight.
As a preview of what is in store for fans with the upcoming Gears of War 3, the beta gives more than just a taster and is without a doubt very satisfying. The beta previews the most important elements of the Gears of War experience, and it does so in style!
The series’ trump card, the gameplay, is better than ever which will please fanatics but also seems easier to deal with for newcomers to the series. If the beta is anything to go by, I can whole-heartedly recommend you do not miss out. Gears of War 3 is shaping up to be the best from the series and I can confidently assume that it will easily be one of this year’s best (or any other year for that matter).
If you haven’t got access to the beta yet, you can still pre-order Gears of War 3 to get a beta code that will launch next week… and I would highly recommend it!
For those that aren’t familiar with our ratings, that means we would chew off an arm for it!
Extra bits for beta players:
Gears of War 3 beta scheduled game modes and maps:
- Mon 18th April through Sun 24th – TDM on Thrashball and Checkout only.
- Mon 25th April hrough Sun 1st – TDM on Thrashball, Checkout, and Trenches only.
- Mon 2nd May through Sun 8th – TDM and KOTH on all 4 beta maps.
- Mon 9th May through Sun 15th – TDM, KOTH, and CTL on all 4 beta maps.”
Gears of War 3 beta unlockables:
- Beta Tester Medal – Simply participating in a single match of the beta will unlock this medal. In the full game, it will be displayed in the Gears 3 multiplayer lobby to let everyone know that you helped beta test.
- Thrashball Cole – To unlock the Thrashball Cole skin, simply play 50 matches in the beta. Once you’ve unlocked the skin, play 10 more matches using the skin to have it carry over to the full game. If you do not play these 10 additional matches, you’ll lose the skin when the beta ends.
- Gold Retro Lancer – Similar to the Cole skin, you unlock the Gold Retro lancer by playing 90 matches in the beta. Once unlocked, you must then get 100 kills using the Gold Retro Lancer to have it carry over to the full game. If you do not get 100 kills with it, you’ll lose it when the beta ends.
- Flaming Hammerburst – To unlock the flaming Hammerburst, simply play and complete one Gears 3 beta match by April 24th. This means you can only unlock the Flaming Hammerburst if you got early entry to the beta by purchasing Bulletstorm.
- Flaming Lancer – To unlock the flaming Lancer, simply play and complete one Gears 3 beta match between April 25th and May 1st.
- Flaming Sawed-Off Shotty- Complete one match between May 2nd and May 8th
- Flaming Gnasher Shotty – Complete one match between May 9th and May 15th