Gears of War 3 is Microsoft’s biggest game to grace the Xbox 360 this year. In order to make the multiplayer experience of Gears of War 3 a more satisfying one than the second game, Epic Games kicked off the beta this week and, luckily, I was one of the first people to get a taste of what Gears of War 3 has to offer in terms of its online multiplayer.
Since the release of Gears of War on the Xbox 360 back in 2006, I was instantly a fan of its campaign and multiplayer. The bloody chainsaw killing of the Locusts, the presentations, story, and the multiplayer aspects made it one of the best games of the year. It’s been over two years since the last time I played Gears of War 2 and unfortunately, I was a little bit rusty when I started playing the beta. It took me a while to get used to the controls again, but after a couple of games, I was kicking butt.
The multiplayer of Gears of War 3 feels the same as the one found on Gears of War 2. The core gameplay and objectives are pretty much the same, with Locusts and COGs fighting one another in a variety of locations. An addition that I find very interesting is that characters can now do finishing beatdowns by pressing Y while the enemy is downed. While doing beatdown, the character is vulnerable to attacks from the opposing side. In the beta, there are three playable game modes: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Leader, and King of the Hill. Team Deathmatch is pretty self-explanatory, and King of the Hill was already found on past Gears of War titles. In Capture the Leader Mode, one member of each team is a designated leader and in order to win the round, players must hold onto the leader for a set amount of time and hold him a shield. In the hours I’ve spent on the beta, I focused on playing Team Deathmatch.
There are a total of four playable maps in the game: Oldtown, Trenches, Trashball, and Checkout. These four maps will let players know what to expect in the final game. Compared to the maps of Gears of War 2, the maps on Gears of War 3 are very similar. For a team of five people on each side, the size of the maps works out pretty well. The respawn points are well-balanced and finding the enemy is not much of a problem.
In the online portion of Gears of War 3, there are new features that I noticed. This time, players can tag an enemy and mark them to make it easy for the team to locate an enemy. The opposing sides are taggable by simply pressing the LB button. When tagged, an indicator will appear on the head of the enemy, which will make it easier for the team to locate the enemies. Additional feature that the beta has are more unlockables, ribbons, medals, and achievements. For those who played Gears of War 2’s online, this should be no surprise.
I am pretty pleased to see that the visuals of Gears of War 3 have been improved. The locales are more detailed and, despite the Unreal Engine 3 being a bit dated, Gears of War 3 looks very good. Compared to Gears of War 2, the third game offers brighter and crisper visuals, although character models look the same. In the beta, characters such as the Locusts and the Marcus Fenix are playable. As the player gets to spend more time on the beta, more unlockables will become available.
Overall, the multiplayer portion of Gears of War 3 plays a lot better but it’s pretty much the same concept. The pace of the shooting and how the character moves are still the same. Nothing has changed with the controls, but the new features will stand out for those familiar with the series. It’s great that the maps are well constructed for five vs. five matches. September isn’t close enough, but playing the Beta will give you something to do between now and then. Let’s hope the single player will blow us away as well.Gears of War 3 Multiplayer Beta Hands On Impression,