There's no catchy slogan this time around. Promises of "Bigger, badder and more badass" by the game's design director Cliff Bleszinski aren't necessary -- not when you're talking about the final piece in one of the most successful trilogies in video games. Gears of War 3 is dead set on refining one of the best third-person shooters of all time and tying up the loose ends of this bloody tale.
The third installment picks up 18 months after Gears of War 2 ended. The game's two heros -- Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago -- helped Delta Squad sink Jacinto, which flooded the underground of the planet and humanity's main threat: the Locust. But Delta Squad failed to complete the job and to make matters worse, there's now another menace more formidable than the Locust called the Lambent. These ever-mutating aliens are a threat to both humans and the Locust, further complicating Delta Squad's main goal -- save humanity.
With the odds stacked so heavily against the players, developer Epic Games upped the ante by adding in four-player co-op throughout the campaign. There's also greater diversity in the playable characters because Epic has added two female characters -- Anya and Samantha.
Epic Games senior producer Rod Fergusson said at E3 that the addition of Anya and Samantha was in response to the growing number of female Gears of War fans who wanted to be better represented in the game. The development crew also did a fine job of outfitting the ladies in the proper combat attire and not some cheap ploy of dressing them in a barely-there outfit.
The increase in playable characters isn't the only helping hand Epic offers. New weapons such as the pendulum lancer, double-barrel shotgun, incendiary grenades, heavy one-shot sniper rifle and a digger launcher that shoots grenades underground that pop up to take out enemies. If that's not enough Gears of War 3 will have an exoskeleton suit called a silverback that has a machine gun on one arm and a rocket launcher on the other. It can also be deployed to create cover for yourself or teammates.
There will also be a new set of close-quarters moves. A bayonet charge is a kamikaze-type run toward an enemy, which you can stab with the pendulum lancer, lift him in the air and slam him to the ground. There's also the mantle kick that you can use when leaping over cover toward an enemy. The move stuns the enemy, which you can then grab, attach a grenade to him and kick him toward other enemies. If you're running low on ammo or want to make a trade with a teammate, there's now the ability to swap weapons. Another new move is a chainsaw kick -- very handy when you've just ripped through an enemy that explodes on death.
But as Gears fans know so well, the multiplayer is a big component to what makes the franchise great. Fresh off the heels of the wildly successful Horde mode, Epic takes it one step further with Beast mode, which puts players in the shoes of the Locust. The objective is very similar to Horde mode -- survive wave after wave of enemies -- but this is more class-based. Enjoy kamikaze missions? Then the ticker is perfect. Looking to heal teammates. Go for the Kantus. There will also be more powerful choices like the Berserker and the Boomer to name a couple. Some of the classes will have to be unlocked as you progress through the levels.
Another feature that will need to be unlocked in multiplayer will be executions. The curb stomp or necksnap are just two of the executions that might need to be unlocked.
"[Executions] are things you earn in Gears 3," Fergusson said. "Just because you have a weapon doesn't mean you'll have the execution for that weapon. Take for example the torque bow where you get to pop a person's head, that will be something that someone will have to earn and so when you see them do it online you know that they're a good player because they did a specific thing [to earn the execution]."
Fergusson said that the details of how to unlock the specific finishing moves will be made available closer to the game's launch in April.
Gears of War 3 seems poised to retain the crown as the best third-person shooter on the market, but will their epic tale go out with a fitting bang?