Ever since a previously unknown racing game was launched on the original Xbox in 2005, Forza Motorsport has been the king of simulation racing games on the console and arguably any platform. On the Xbox 360 there have been 3 installments with Forza Motorsport 2, 3 and now 4 with each making major advancements in terms of technology and gameplay despite using the same hardware. Forza Motorsport 4 has boldly claimed to look better, play better and last longer than any other racing game by providing the ultimate racing experience both online and offline.
While the previous title in the series held up to the cross platform rival Gran Turismo 5, Turn 10 Studios has used a short development time to turn Forza 4 into a superb package that absolutely blows any previous racing game out of the water. This simply put if the complete racing game that offers so much more than any other game on the market and some insane graphical progression has allowed this game to improve immensely on Forza 3, which was impressive in its own right. This is the ode to all racing fans out there, Forza Motorsport 4 is the game you have been looking to own.
Forza 3 was a graphical beast back in the day and still holds its own next to other racing games in 2011. Forza 4 takes it up a gear and brings the tracks to life in ways never before seen. Exquisite detail and next gen lighting effects take Forza 4 into a league of its own as the attention to detail in every aspect of the game is second to none. Who cares if Gran Turismo 5 has more cars and tracks if the majority are generic models which look hideous. Everything right down to the interior of a 1973 Ford Falcon GT has been lovingly crafted to provide as much detail as possible. This is a game that car enthusiasts will be genuinely happy with.
The new image based lighting model delivers real world effects as cars race through the various locations in the game. Bright sunlight will shimmer off a cars bonnet just like it would in real life, where as shadows accurately roll over the car and even reflect the outside environment from inside the car. The old one dimensional thought of car goes under bridge, shadow of bridge rolls over car is gone. The car feeds off the environment and the reflections and colours bouncing off all areas accurately reflects your surroundings.
While an extensive amount of time has been taken to apply as much detail as possible to the 500 odd cars in the game, the tracks have been beefed up from their older counterparts. With a limited number of new tracks in this years version, it was important for Turn 10 to add the subtle changes to the tracks hardened veterans know and love. Almost all of your favourite tracks return (minus the New York Circuit) with crisper graphics featuring more detailed backgrounds and a crisper racing surface. Everything down to skid marks and asphalt variation on the ground has been improved and comparisions between the same track on Forza 3 and 4 look generations apart.
Calling Forza 4 a graphical beast must mean that it has a meaty engine running underneath. Whether or not this is the case, the sounds produced in this game definitely match the most beautiful sounding cars in our world today. Cars have never sounded better in a video game and the unique roar of each car has been added to this game. It is great to hop into an old Jaguar and hear the roar compared to the putrid splutter you may find in Top Gears Reasonably Priced Car. Forza Motorsport 4 for me is the complete package in terms of presentation and racing games entering the fray should hope to replicate this game as I find it hard to think of topping it in this generation anyway.
No matter how good the cars looked and sounded, if they handled like a piece of junk with minimal sensitivity or the races weren't fun, all the effort would be wasted. Luckily Forza 4 is a pleasure to play and they have finally streamlined the content to keep you playing for longer while continuing to enjoy the experience. Along with the lengthy career mode which has been altered for a more thrilling ride full of choices and the bolstered multiplayer mode, an array of new modes make their way into the game. Kinect adds a nice experimental mode to the game and also assists with the potential of Autovista which showcases some of the premier cars in the game. Rivals mode takes multiplayer offline in a sense, allowing you to race against other players ghosts in a kind of challenge mode. All of this adds up to hundreds of hours of fun reaching the new level cap of 150.
The cars handle splendidly, realistically reacting to braking and turning just like their real life counterpart. Of course everything in the game can be modified and adding or altering parts in your car may alter the braking power or acceleration of your car. The game also lets you change the game to suit your difficulty level. Everything from assisted braking to traction control can be turned on or off depending on how well you feel like you can handle your vehicle. Extending the simple easy/medium/hard settings of other games has always kept Forza in a position to suit a larger range of gamers. What doesn't change throughout the game is the sense of speed. Rocketing down a straight at 200 miles per hour will feel super fast and will continue to be exhilirating no matter how many times you take on one of the many straights presented on the Le Mans track.
One big problem I found with Forza 3 was that by the 4th and 5th year of the career I wasn't finding any motivation to complete the main races of the game. Every 3rd or 4th race was an endurance event taking 30 minutes or more of my time with no way of saving in between. It really took the fun out of racing, as much of a simulation experience that it was the races still needed to be shortened at least on a more regular basis. Turn 10 agrees and have streamlined the races, with shorter races and more of them over a 10 year career. I love this change and it definitely makes it easier for me to enjoy the game. Events are now chosen depending on what cars are in your garage and you have a choice on what grade of race you play each time, the location and length are always set in place however which is no big deal. Levelling up is now faster and provides more rewards often. Choice is implemented into this also with a choice of cars available at every level bracket.
Multiplayer is back and better than ever before. Public and private races make a return and will keep you entertained and challenged long past finishing all the hundreds of events in career mode. The best new feature in my opinion is Rivals Mode. Rivals mode is basically a combination of events that allow you to play against your friends or other Forza players online, even when they're offline. Your rival will be represented by a ghost car of their lap at any given challenge and you are given a chance to beat their time. By beating your rival, you'll get bonus credits based on that rival's position on the leaderboard, with large bonuses saved for the top percentile of the leaderboard. These different modes aren't just normal racing and includes things such as Track Days, Time Attacks, Spec Hot Laps, Autocross, Drifting and Top Gear's heralded Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge. These are so much fun that you could dedicate hours alone to setting fast times yourself and beating your friends in the process.
Speaking of friends, The Car Club is a new social aspect of Forza 4 which lets you join groups of either your friends or fellow car enthusiasts. Here you can share cars and parts with others in the group as well as checking out the progress of everyone else in the group. With many other games going social, its great to see Forza following stride and creating their own unique package. Another feature unique to Forza 4 is Autovista, an interactive way to look at and learn about the most beautiful cars in the game. Using either a controller or Kinect, you can zoom in and examine every part of many cars both internally and externally while receiving wonderful stats and stories from Jeremy Clarkson. This is a great thing to show off to friends and a cool way to take a detailed look at cars you will never drive. This mode also shows off the graphical power and detail put into Forza 4.
Forza Motorsport 4 for the first time isn't all about simulation racing, they have mixed it up by adding some fun elements that will certainly appeal to the more casual racer amongst gamers. A lot has been said about Top Gears involvement in the Forza series and unlike Gran Turismo their debut has been met with great success. Apart from Jeremy Clarkson's Autovista input and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge, other fan favourites such as car bowling have been featured in normal events as well as career events which is super cool! Kinect play, while a minimal feature which will keep those who were worried about a casual approach when it was first announced safe, is still a lot of fun. Being able to control a car with just your arms and head to look around is a fair bit of fun, but is definitely only worthy of a tiny part in this package. If you really want to drive using your hands, go out and buy the official steering wheel from Microsoft.
Quite honestly, this is as good as it will get for any racing game in this generation of consoles. Gran Turismo fans may complain about lack of night racing and the fact that they have so many more (mostly generic) cars to race. Forza 4's overall package trumps any racing game ever made before it and crushes them to dust. This is the ultimate racing game, covering every possible angle of the sport and the beauty of cars. There is so much content packed into Forza that it will take you hundreds upon hundreds of hours to finish. The game is beautiful, the cars sound extraordinary and the game handles like an absolute angel. Seriously, enough said, this is the best racing game ever.
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Overall - 10/10
Friday, October 28, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Before Criterion Games tackled the hugely successful Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, they were best known for the Burnout series which took the idea of extreme racing to a whole new level. For one reason or another, it has been far too long since a true Burnout title (Burnout Revenge) has been released so I was incredibly excited to hear about Burnout Crash! coming to XBLA and PSN. This title however isn't your standard arcade racer and is merely a top down take on the most exciting part of Burnout, the crashes. The basic premise of the game is simple, cause a massive traffic build up by destroying cars, buildings and unleashing hell on the level with a various number of natural disasters to earn the most points possible. It is a fun take on the game, but despite having the Burnout brand attached to the game, the thrill of smashing into cars isn't the same when you are left with a simple crashbreaker mechanism to control your car.
The latest Burnout title is shying away from the super graphics we witnessed at the end of the Xbox's console life as a cartoon style has taken precedence in this arcade addition. The top down view of Burnout really does the graphics justice as it allows for huge explosions and general havoc created by natural disasters that lets the playing field become destroyed in ways not entirely possible with lifelike graphics. There isn't much variation in the levels so you may see buildings and cars repeated over and over again. Not much emphasis is placed on the graphics and the explosions in the game take all the glory in a game which seems to be focused towards attracting a younger type of gamer.
The audio in the game certainly emphasises the younger target in Burnout Crash. The narrator in the game gives helpful information before the game starts, but during the game goes for the NBA Jam style of one liners to try and create a lightened atmosphere. It does work somewhat, but doesn't work to the same effect as Electronic Arts other new downloadable title. Apart from this, the sound in the game presents nothing special and mainly is brought on by explosion sound effects everytime you launch the crashbreaker to wreck havoc.
Playing Burnout Crash is a super simple process that can be automatically picked up by anyone. The game uses minimal controls as you drive into traffic using the thumbstick before pressing A or X to launch the crashbreaker, which launches your car into the air and hopefully into other cars or buildings. The aim is to break as much as possible in the designated game mode and earn a gold medal on each level. There are 6 unique locations and 18 different crash junctions to explore as you progress through the many levels.
There are three game modes which can be played. They are Road Trip, Rush Hour and Pile-Up. In Road Trip, you aim to prevent cars from escaping to the other side of the screen by causing them to crash through the use of pile ups, your crashbreaker and many special features including natural disasters. In Rush Hour you have 90 seconds to cause as much damage as possible to get a high score. This mode is often hectic and having a strategy to cause stuff such as chain reactions with cars and buildings is vital. In Pile-Up you need to stop cars escaping to keep your multiplier while making sure something is regularly damaged to keep fires burning on the level for as long as possible. This is the longest mode in the game and requires good movement around the level to utilise every destroyable object possible.
The game modes are quite fun and mixing up how you play a certain level with different strategies certainly extends the length of the game. As you level up more cars are unlocked and the ability to choose a car focused on explosion power or movement certainly adds another thing to think about when choosing a certain car for a particular game mode.
Apart from the standard mode, there is no multiplayer which could've been a pretty cool mode to challenge others to. Instead there is Autolog which has come straight from the Need for Speed series to let you see and hopefully beat friends times before letting them know all about it. The game is also Kinect compatible and falls into Microsoft's one Kinect Arcade title per month plan. The game can be controlled using hand gestures which is pretty cool, but doesn't offer the same kind of accuracy as a controler. That is alright though as precision isn't a necessary aspect of Burnout Crash. I could see it being fun with multiple people around to laugh at you, but there are better Kinect titles available.
Burnout Crash isn't the long awaited return to the Burnout franchise we have all been waiting for, but for a $10 game this is an excellent way to tide us over for a little bit longer hopefully. The simple graphics and game modes presented make this a fun, entertaining game for the whole family to play yet perfection will give more determined players something to strive for. It's debateable whether 3 game modes and no real multiplayer is enough to keep you coming back for more, but those who want a top down way to create general havoc on the highway, this is the game for you.
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 6/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Overall - 7/10
Pro Evolution Soccer has one of the hardest year on year tasks in gaming. Every year it has to go up against the juggernaut which is FIFA. This challenges Pro Evolution Soccer to either try and beat EA Sports at their own game or use the same sport yet take a slightly different approach on it. That is exactly what happens and through years of improvements including some much needed ones this year, a solid fan base for this type of soccer has grown. Instead of fighting over areas such as the spread of teams available or the insane attention to realism that has grown in recent years, PES is all about making soccer fun and playable for every user out there. Certain aspects from the real sport have been slightly adjusted or the physics of players changed to make a more enjoyable game which will please the casual gamer that wants to receive more action than your standard soccer match.
This franchise was in danger of falling far behind other titles in terms of how realistic their player models and animations were. Last years huge jump as well as this years advancements provides some of the best and worst graphics in a sport game. The game has a sense of speed not seen in FIFA and the fluid nature of Pro Evolution Soccer makes it a joy to play. Player's facial features are generally outstanding for big name players, but as the popularity drops then a few basic generic models come into play to fill the rest of the rosters. The opening to matches is stunning and recreates the build up to real games, but the crowd is still something which looks poor on the screen especially when the standard has been lifted in every other part of the game.
Once the players take to the field the high level of graphical power continues. Player animations are spot on during the game and while not as precise as FIFA's new physics engine, collisions are lifelike and believable. Pro Evolution Soccer is a big fan of giving you replays of tackles and shots on goal and so it should. The slow motion replays look amazing for the most part, taking the crown over the fairly lacklustre approach seen earlier this year with the glitchy results of FIFA. Sometimes the player may appear to be running unaturally fast or having legs running 3 times faster than they should be, but these are small gripes. The game runs as smoothly as the cover athlete Cristiano Ronaldo and does a super job of shaping up as a generally beautiful package.
The sound in Pro Evolution Soccer is your standard crowd noises as well as commentary from two commentators. While there is nothing wrong with it, the commentary doesn't live up to the hefty standards created by other games. They seem to be lacking the enthusiasm and detail which brings the game alive for so many people. The game soundtrack is made up an array of electronic and pop music and sounds pretty good at the menus, while again presenting nothing special or game related like the NBA 2K series.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 has to follow last years title which made some really big improvements both under the hood and in terms of how the game played to really make it a true contendor again. This years title has been all about listening to user feedback and adding some of the features that people have demanded the most. The main changes in this years title focus on improving the playability, challenge and realism the game offers while also improving the amount of control the user has during the matches. It is great to see Konami matching FIFA in some of their main features such as Active AI and jostling while also keeping their unique playing style that attracts many fans to this franchise.
The most realistic features added to Pro Evolution Soccer advance the game to a whole new level thanks to the new and improved teammate AI. The new Active AI system means that players no longer flock to the ball and instead make smart leads and correct positioning to something you would see in a real game. The players will run into space and provide options for the user to pass to. Players can now highlight and control any player now with an improved system allowing switching players and directions them a lot easier. A new pass support system has been put in place to allow newcomers all the way up to veterans change the game to suit their experience level. You can now choose from 5 levels of 'difficulty' which goes from having lots of AI assistance with passing the ball all the way up to direction, weight and speed of every pass controlled by the user.
These new improvements really do make the game a lot better, while the faster pace of Pro Evolution Soccer has stayed. Realism has been entwined with fun and that is what really makes this a superb experience for those who are willing to look past the large head of FIFA. What ultimately lets the franchise down is the lack of teams available and the amount of game modes. This game is lacking a lot of the leagues and many major teams which are licensed to FIFA which ruins the diversity, especially for people who support one of the missing teams. None of the game modes have changed either this year, with dedications tournaments such as UEFA as well as Be A Legend which isn't as extensive as other sporting games attempts at taking one player through a sport. One new mode, Club Boss, has been added and is basically Manager mode and doesn't really offer anything we haven't had the chance to play for years now.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 is a good game that at the end of the day is hurt by the lack of choice available. The game is presented nicely with player animations and models which look superb. Playing soccer in Pro Evolution Soccer is fun and the mix of realism and strategy with the fun faster paced portion of gameplay makes it an excellent title for those who aren't hell bent on pure simulation and a defensive style game. As with every year, the lack of teams and leagues as well as a seemingly unchanged line-up of game modes doesn't offer as much to do as with FIFA. This game is certainly another step in the right direction and a focus on boosting the game modes will bring it closer next year.
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 7/10
Gameplay - 7.5/10
Overall - 8/10
It is ironic how Electronic Arts strongest gaming franchise is the only one which actually has a real competitor putting out an annual franchise to compete for the space as top soccer game. Unlike Madden, NHL and Tiger Wood's PGA Golf which basically glide through their annual iterations with updates and a base following which will buy every yearly update, FIFA must make large strides each and every year to stay one step ahead of the competition. While NBA 2K fans may disagree, FIFA has arguably been the best sport game on the market in terms of features, graphics and overall gameplay since FIFA 10. It looked hard for EA to come out and take the same kind of jump with FIFA 11, yet they managed to admirably improve the game. The same issue faced the development team with FIFA 12 and again they have taken the title up a notch and given the most realistic game yet, even if some of the changes may irritate long time fans in the beginning.
The world wide game of soccer has always been excellently presented on consoles with lifelike player animations coming to the forefront, particularly in slow motion replays and in game scenes. During the game, the match has always been primarily presented from the television broadcast style with a birds eye view, which doesn't require the graphical finesse of a closer filmed game such as NFL or NBA. For this reason alone, it is vital that animations and player interaction is spot on as not as much time is needed to make the graphics as detailed as other titles. New to FIFA 12 is the advanced impact engine which seems to be based off other EA Sports titles and adds realistic animations that occur when two or more players collide with each other. The special thing about this is that a pre-recorded animation won't simply occur and the speed, force and angle of contact will realisitically determine how the collision unfolds. This looks spectacular during the game, but during replays you may experience the occasional glitch where a body part will move in unnatural positions and patterns. For the most part though the impact engine improves the gameplay as well as graphical realism.
The player impact engine is only a small part of what makes up FIFA 12. All the outstanding areas that are augmented together to create a television broadcast experience of FIFA 12 have been improved and tweaked for this years version. Player animations look excellent, the physics being the player and the ball are spot on and the different stadiums look stunning even if the crowd doesn't hold its own when close inspection is given. Special praise must be given to Be a Pro modes and the always fun loading screen where a 3rd person view of the game is given. Extra detail has been added to this mode to make it look as realistic as the broadcast view and some of the minimal graphical hitches I came across last year have been removed. Despite a few small hiccups that occur, there isn't much more I feel like FIFA can improve on in the presentation department on field until the next generation of consoles is released.
Until NBA 2K12 was released with its simple yet effective tile approach, I felt like FIFA had the best menu screens in the business. Nothing can beat having a good bit of one on one in the loading screens and is certainly a highlight of FIFA. While its a small addition, it sure topples watching a circle spin around for 30 seconds while pointless tips are shoved in your face. The menu does undertake a minimalist approach and appears at the bottom of the screen, allowing sub menus to be quickly seen while scrolling through. While I reckon next year they will need to step it up to somewhat match 2K, it is light years above the shambles which was NHL 12's menu screen.
Soccer is primarily an European game so we can't take any points off for having to listen to British commentators, but they are informative and provide a lot of valuable statistics and commentary about the game. The focus is more on the game at hand and commentating what is happening rather than historical stats and team information which seems to dominate American sports, but this isn't a bad thing. The enthusiasm and emotion put into the commentary is of a suitable quality with the excitement rising as a player scores or pulls off a good move. What is pleasing is that there commentary all flows really well and isn't static like some soccer games in the past where information isn't flowing together. For the first time ever however, two broadcast teams are featured and players can customize to their preferred commentators for any matches. This addition is really cool and having multiple teams is something that should be added to more game. The crowd, while only a small part of the experience as the commentary takes preference when I'm listening while playing, reacts perfectly to whats happening on the field and a home ground advantage to the scoring team will certainly result in a large cheer.
For consumers who wish to purchase a soccer game you have two distinct choices. There is either the arcade path with Pro Evolution Soccer and a game focused more on action or the simulation path with FIFA which tries to reiterate the skill and strategy that goes into an actual soccer match. The four major additions to this years title emphasise the simulation style of FIFA as it delivers real-world physicality in every interaction on the pitch. The Player Impact Engine is the new physics engine which presents an infinite number of outcomes for every contact in the game. It allows players to push and pull during the fight for possession and allows players to recover according to the force of the challenge presented. Pro Player Intelligence enables self-awareness and allows the CPU to make accuracte decisions based on their own strengths and weaknesses in the various areas of the game. These two major advancements really push the game to the blurred line between gaming and reality as matches are now more realistic than ever before. The time and effort gone into these two particular aspects of the game, don't change how its controlled but how stunning the overall package is on field.
Two large changes in particular to how the game is played are Precision Dribbling and Tactical Defending. Precision Dribbling allows even more control over the ball and lets you control the pace of the game. Utilizing close dribble moves while surrounded by opponents is an excellent skill to learn for pro players as it really advantages the offense. The other new, yet slightly controversial new feature of Tactical Defending completely changes how defense is used. In the past gamers used to hold down a button and a player was sent on a direct route to take the ball off the opponent. Now this re-designed defending mechanism changes the game by placing equal importance on positioning and the ability to intercept as the defense now will hang off and will merely attempt to push the offensive player into a difficult position where a tackle can then be made. Timing is crucial and those players who enjoy tackling aggressively and often will find themselves in trouble as the offense simply runs rings around them. For those who prefer the old method, it is still available although not in online play.
In terms of modes, FIFA 12 easily has enough content to keep you playing until FIFA 13 rolls by. Be a Pro is back and has been given no real enhancements over last years offering which brought goalkeeping to the mode for the first time. My Ultimate Team is back and is free in FIFA 12, bringing the hugely successful trading card experience to everyone right from day one. Career mode has been given a slight overhaul to make it more realistic to the real world of football. Factors such as player morale, on pitch form and league position will drive outcomes in the game. The user will face more decisions than ever before and the task of becoming a player/manager has never been as intense as this version. All of this, along with the standard online mode are all streamlined into a social experience known as EA Sports Football Club. Everything you do in the game earns you experience and achievements, which can then be shown off in EASFC. Friends and challenges can be tracked and real-world storylines drive the content gamers receive. This is a large step in making FIFA 12 look and feel like a real world season. As you play matches, experience you earn also goes to your favourite club as you fight for weekly leaderboards to make your team come out victorious. This adds extra incentive for those who want to see powerhouses such as Manchester United or Real Madrid toppled.
Even though we seem to be saying this every year, the improvements made to this years version of FIFA are substantial in improving the soccer experience for those who purchase the game. Everything from the amazingly realistic Player Impact Engine to the social aspect brought by EA Sports Football Club just adds to the already vast array of things you can play and love in FIFA. The sheer amount of content you can receive, coupled with the class and expert simulation of the biggest sport in the world show why this franchise is still loved by millions after 19 years. First time players are going to absolutely adore this game and returning veterans of the series are going to find new challenges presented to them when they take on the new tactical defending. This is one game not to miss for any soccer fan.
Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 9.5/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Overall - 9.5/10
Monday, October 3, 2011
Gears of War is the product Microsoft arguably couldn't handle with its other premier series Halo. The action packed trilogy that takes Marcus Fenix and the Delta Squad on one last adventure to wrap up their story in the most satisfying way possible. This game takes you a roller coaster ride which finishes up one of the best series of this generation while at the same time keeping you playing along until the next generation arrives. There is something truly special about this game and is a defining statement on why the Xbox 360 doesn't need to have a large supply of exclusive titles to launch every year. Epic Games have created an experience that easily lives up to their namesake.
Ever since the original Gears title Epic have pushed the boundaries in terms of graphics. Gears of War 3 is no exception and easily outdoes its predecessors to show off the full potential of the Xbox 360. Everything about Gears 3 emits polish. The desolate land of Sera seems alive with outstanding visuals providing a sense of decay and danger. Everything from smoke effects to the crumbling landscape sets the perfect scene for the final setting of this franchise and the variation provided throughout your journey is plentiful. Unlike some games which fall into the track of one colour palette, Gears of War contuinally mixes it up accordingly.
Character animations are absolutely superb and definitely rank with the best games on the market. While extra detail and care has been put into the members of Delta Squad, everything from small cameo characters to the many types of Locust's have been perfected right down to small facial movements. This is in part due to the fact that every character, both COG and Beast can be used in multiplayer. They all look superb online and definitely puts games such as Call to Duty to shame as they are often lacking in online detail.
The musical score in Gears of War 3 is one of the more recognizable experiences you will have in gaming. Witty one liners and excellent voice acting takes precedence in the brilliant cut scenes as you instantly relate with the main squad and the struggles they are going through. The ability for the developers to put some sly comedy into situations like these and not make it seem like an overexerted attempt to be funny is a difficult thing to accomplish. The music always seem to have a knack of perfectly matches the situation presented to the group. Around halfway into the game it hits a period in the story that completely defines this game and the number of outstanding moments it provides. The musical score in this situation easily rivals this spine tingling moments experienced throughout my time playing video games.
Gears of War 3 is the end of the line for Delta Squad and the necessary steps to close out all outlying story plots has been covered in an ironic, over the top way that Gears only knows how to do. For players of the previous titles, there will be moments in the game that will pull on your heart strings, providing stunning moments of glory that spectacularly encapsulates multiple emotions in one go. First timers to the Gears franchise won't be able to appreciate the humour and subtle plots in the game, but just as with Halo where the same problem exists, you can still enjoy this game immensely. Not understanding the characters and their history won't distract from the stunning gameplay at hand.
When it comes to 3rd person shooters, absolutely no one does it better than Gears. This is one of the only games in existence that has actually got a solid and efficient cover system. The Delta Squad is made up of humans, but think of a beefed up version of a bodybuilder. With this physique you wouldn't imagine they would have the same amount of elegance as your standard person. The movements in this game are slow and unique except for the option to sprint where movement left or right is severely limited. A lot of thought has always gone into character animations in the Gears of War series and it is shown here with subtle improvements to make it as realistic as possible. Shooting is fun and varied with different guns haven't different ranges and damage amounts, which accurately affects the recoil and accuracy once firing. This is the most playable Gears yet and is suited for people of all abilities.
The campaign is absolutely outstanding and could easily sell by itself. What makes Gears of War 3 a complete package is all the extra modes that go with it. Co-op mode has always been a big hit in the franchise and the ability to play through the campaign with up to 4 players is an excellent way to experience the final battle for either your first, second or even third playthough. You can also mix up the campaign with either standard or arcade, which gives you points based on multipliers and headshots etc, giving added incentive to continue playing through. Multiplayer is back and better than ever before with new maps, new game modes and added finesse added to the finer points of the mode. Gone are all the frustrating glitches and issues that affected Gears 2 as the beta before the games launched has helped Gears 3 become the best multiplayer game in the series hands down. Playing online is just as slick as the single player, and is just as easy to get into this time around.
Past normal multiplayer, Horde mode is back and better than ever before. For those who have never played the game before, Horde is basically the Gears version of Zombies in Call of Duty Black Ops. You play with up to four people in a tower defense style mode to hold off waves of enemies by not only shooting them, but setting traps throughout the map. The mode is a heap of fun and a massive timesink for those who easily get sucked into the zombies style of gameplay. The most exciting addition to Gears for me was the brand new Beast mode, which is a play on the popular Horde style. Instead of playing as one of the COG you are instead the Locust and are completing wave based challenges in the opposing role. It is a cool twist they have added to the game which further extends your playing time and creates another fun mode for players.
Gears of War 3, simply put is the definitive 3rd person shooter. This game is a fitting tribute to 5 years of Gears that has ended in the best way possible. No loose ends are around for a Gears 4 and Epic has stayed true to one area of gaming that is seemingly broken regularly for a simple cash grab from developers. Marcus Fenix and co. provide a fitting end to the franchise which not only travels over some of the most spectacular scenery and storytelling in gaming, but delivers an addictive array of multiplayer modes which will keep gamers playing right up until they achieve the nigh on impossible Seriously 3.0 achievement. Simply put, this is a game you must get. Gears of War is an excellent franchise and a title that can't be missed in 2011.
Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Overall - 9.5/10