Big bulky soldiers are back later this year with Gears of War 3. Third person macho blasting and chainsawing was the order of the day and it happens to be the order of the day once more. But now you can be a little more brutal. I gave the beta ago to see what awaits in September.
The beta includes four game modes and four levels. Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Leader and Torque Bow Tag are the modes playable and the levels are Old Town, Trenches, Checkout and Thrashball Stadium. Each mode has two teams of five going at each other with selectable character skins and weapon loadouts, best out of three to win. Checkout seems to be the most popular of the levels through all the modes and people just love the shotguns. Grr.
Team Deathmatch is the mode most will jump to first and is a simple team game of killing the opposing force. Limited respawns are in operation so you have to tread more carefully as the match progresses. It is a simple mode everyone can get to grips with instantly, but poor matchmaking leads to big skill differences in players at the minute. A level three facing a team of level thirties? Fair. Torque Bow Tag is the same mode, but with added explosive bows.
King of The Hill has you capturing areas of the level which leads to a more frantic game than Team Deathmatch, as everyone rushes to the centre. Carnage ensues and it’s difficult to get a grasp of things, especially on the smaller levels like Checkout. Frantic, but not as satisfying as the other modes I found.
Capture the Leader is my favourite of the multiplayer modes. A leader is assigned on each team and the objective is to grab them and hold on for thirty seconds. The leader can’t die, he can only be weakened to a crawling state. This mode has a slower pace and seems to bring the team together. Everyone is focusing on either defending or attacking and it seems a lot more balanced as the enemy isn’t always rushing for those shotgun kills. Great fun, though I never got to be the leader.
The modes are solid, as are the levels and the gameplay. Checkout is a small shopping mall, which leads to tense gun fights. Thrashball Stadium is a ruined games ground with a falling score board. Old Town is a beautiful place with lots of corners to hide around and Trenches is a war themed level with sand storms and plenty of cover.
The game is all about the cover as you await the enemies. Weapons feel brutal, everything controls smoothly thanks to the A button handling, cover, jumping over obstacles, rolling and running. It’s a solid third person shooter led down by poor weapon balancing and matchmaking. Shotguns are the lead gun, everyone uses them and close enough they kill in one. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially when matchmaking decides a new player is ready to play a top player. If they can sort the balancing out by September this will be a great and bloody online experience. Especially when you can perform executions on downed foes. Chainsawed in half, head knocked off from using a gun like a club and ripping an arm off the enemy then beating them repeatedly with it? Only in Gears.