Gears of War fans were hyped when the third installment in the series was released in September. Aptly named Gears of War 3, this third-person shooter game can be played in either single or multiplayer mode. It was, once again, developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Studios, which explains why it’s only available for Xbox 360. New to this game, however, is science fiction author Karen Traviss, who wrote the very intricate and moving storyline.

This was my first experience with Gears of War, and even though I wasn’t familiar with the characters, I quickly became invested in their individual stories. I’m sure that the game would be a lot of fun if you played it with friends in co-op or multi-player mode, but my review is strictly from a single player perspective.


What I like

  • Storyline: As I mentioned above, Karen Traviss successfully weaved a very spectacular story. Fighting against the Lambent and Locust enemies are only part of the gaming experience. The story is fun, witty, adventurous, fast-paced, and even incredibly deep at other moments. When asked whether gamers would care about the characters in Gears of War 3, Traviss replied, “They want to know what happens to them, because there really isn’t a guaranteed happy ending. People die in Gears, just as they die in real life, and the world is short on miracles – this is a desperate struggle to survive.”
  • Ease of gameplay: There are a lot of things to like about the actual gameplay of Gears of War 3. For example:
    • There are a lot of different weapons to choose from as you progress through the game, and they do try to leave you ammunition in different places (especially after battle scenes so that you can replenish your weapons). It should be noted that there is a learning curve to the weapons, and some of the weapons you run across are restricted to certain areas and tasks — you can use them, but you can’t carry them around with you.
    • The game saves frequently, so you can take a break without having to worry about losing very many of your accomplishments.
    • Run and cover sequences are really great on Gears of War 3. You can quickly hop up and move from one obstacle or barrier to the next, which makes up for the difficulty in distance shooting (refer to the “What I don’t like” section below) and/or possibly having guns that suck or are low on ammunition.

What I don’t like

  • Third-person shooter syndrome: Ok, it’s not really a syndrome, but there should be a name – a condition, at least – for gamers who try to gracefully make the switch over from COD and other 1st-person shooter games. It’s difficult not being able to look down the sights of your gun, when that’s what you’re used to. This also makes it more difficult to shoot long distance.
  • Limited control of movement: The characters seem to move really slow or really fast. I couldn’t find a happy medium. Typically, I like to hurry through a game so that I can see what happens, but unfortunately, the jarring movement when the characters were running literally made me feel sick.
  • Lack of gaming console options: Yeah, yeah, yeah – Xbox 360 is a beast. But why discriminate when gamers with different consoles all over the world could be enjoying Gears of War 3? I get why publishers pull the exclusivity card, but if you don’t own an Xbox 360, I personally don’t think this series would be worth such a major purchase. And yes, that’s spoken like a true PS3 fan who is much more familiar (and comfortable) with the PS3 controller buttons.

Geek Gift bottom line

Like I said in the beginning, this was my first experience with Gears of War, and now I’m a fan. The things that I really like about this game far outweigh the cons. Ultimately, Gears of War 3 has a great storyline that will give you many hours of gaming entertainment. Beyond the single-player campaign, there’s a whole world of adrenaline-rushing cooperative play, downloadable content, and unlockables. If you own an Xbox 360, this title would make a welcome addition to your gaming library.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *****
  • Geek factor: ****
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: *****

For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic’s Geek Gift Guide 2011.