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Friday April 29, 2011 3:47 pm

Gears of War 3 beta review

gears of war 3 beta

"Gears of War 3," the final installment in the Gears of War trilogy, is slated to hit store shelves on September 20, bringing the war between The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) and the Locust Hoard to its conclusion. However, you don't have to wait until the fall to play the game; developer Epic Games has given those who purchased "Bulletstorm: Epic Edition" or pre-ordered "Gears of War 3" a chance to take the online multiplayer for a spin. New and returning gamers will appreciate all the new weapons, characters, and the smooth online experience.

The "Gears of War" beta comes with a purpose. Besides letting gamers preview the title before its release, Epic Games is using it to test its new dedicated online servers. The studio is also looking to iron out any bugs, glitches, and exploits that plagued the previous series entries.

The gameplay of "Gears of War 3" multiplayer remains mostly the same, but it incorporates new weapons, maps, game modes, and game play mechanics. Gamers will continue to strategically go in and out of cover to get a better position for the kill.

New Weapons
"Gears of War 3" introduces many new weapons to shoot, stab, and blow up your opponents into meat chunks. Two primary guns make their appearance in the game: the Retro Lancer and the Sawed-off Shotgun. The Retro Lancer is an assault rifle that deals massive damage but has horrible accuracy and very high recoil, making it most effective for close- to medium-range combat. Attached to front of the gun is a bayonet, which can be used to charge and impale opponents for an instant kill. With a near-180 degree shooting angle and the ability to take out up to two opponents with one shot, the Sawed-Off Shotgun is going to be a fan favorite. However, it has the least amount of range and the longest reload time of any weapon, so Sawed-Off Shotgun users must ensure that each shot counts.

All of the previous weapons of the past two titles return in "Gears of War 3," with a few tweaks. Most noticeable are the Hammerbust and Gorgon SMG. The ever-evolving Hammerbust gets yet another tweak. Players can now go into a first-person view for better accuracy, and the Gorgon Pistol (now named the Gorgon SMG) is now fully automatic.

There are also three new map-based weapons that make their first appearance in the Gears of War arsenal: The One Shot, Digger Launcher, and Incendiary Grenade.

The One Shot is a sniper rifle on steroids. Once equipped, players have only three shots to fire down range. It's a heavy weapon, too, so mobility is compromised. Aim the sights, lock on to the target and let it rip. Targets caught in the line of fire will meet a quick death.

Next up is the Digger Launcher. Perhaps the weirdest weapon in "Gears of War 3," the Digger Launcher fires a mole-like creature who digs into the ground and pops back up to decapitate any unlucky opponents that gets in its way.

The last of the map-based weapons is the Incendiary Grenade, which blows up on contact and covers the area in fire. Of all of the new weapons, I must say that the Digger Launcher is my personal favorite. Launch one of these into a crowed of unsuspecting opponents and watch from afar as their heads fall off their shoulders.

Fan-Voted Maps
Gamers will be able to take all these weapons of destruction and use them on four maps that were voted on by the Gears of War community: Check Out, Old Town, Trenches and Thrashball.

Check Out takes place in an abandoned supermarket. Players will take cover behind freezers, shelves, and shopping carts. With close quarter combat around every corner, any of the two shotguns will be the weapon of choice on this map. With very little color and light, Check Out is probably the least visually appealing of all the maps.

Old Town places players in a European-inspired seaside town. Bright and colorful, this is probably the best-looking map of the four. Old Town provides long-distance combat with its long, open areas, as well as close-quarters combat surrounding each of the map-based weapons.

Next up is Trenches, where teams square off in a tight network of tunnels. This map is the only one that utilizes verticality, allowing players to shoot down and up on opponents. Minutes into the match on Trenches, a foghorn will sound signaling an oncoming sandstorm, reducing visibility to just a few feet. All long-range weapons will be useless during the sandstorm, forcing players to hunker down with shotgun in hand as it passes.

Lastly, players take the field in Thrashball. Set in the battered Dover Stadium, Thrashball comes complete with seats, football training dummies, and even a working hanging scoreboard that can be shot down to kill any opponents below.

Gameplay Modes, Ranking System
Taking control of either the COG or Locust, gamers have the choice to play from three game types: Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, or Capture the Leader.

Epic chose to scrap the previous Team Deathmatch variants from the previous games, which gave only one life per round; in "Gears of War 3," each team is given a total of 15 respawns. This is a welcome change, as it allows for continuous, lengthy matches without the need to respawn after each round. The first team that brings the opposing teams spawn count to zero wins.

"Gears of War 3" also offers two objective game types: King of the Hill and Capture the Leader. The classic King of the Hill makes a return as players battle to gain control of certain areas on the map. Those who just want to rack up kills may favor this game mode. In Capture the Leader, a player on each team is randomly assigned as the leader. Players must then attempt to capture and hold the opposing team's leader for a set amount of time. This game mode depends heavily on teamwork and communication. Leaving the leader unprotected will result in a very quick win for the opposing team.

"Gears of War" also implements a new ranking and unlocking system, similar to "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." Players earn XP by racking up kills and winning games, and they can unlock characters, medals, and weapon skins by completing certain objectives. It is important to note that all of the skins and one character (Trashball Cole) are exclusive to the beta and will carry over when the full game is released.

The Outlook
If the "Gears of War 3" multiplayer beta is any indication of what the final product will look like, then Epic Games will have yet another hit on its hands. The multiplayer is refined and improved in every way, and the implementation of dedicated servers will finally give fans the multiplayer experience for which they have been waiting. Gamers, keep an extra $60 in your pocket and pick up "Gears of War 3" when it hits store shelves this fall.

This article, written by Angel Gonzalez, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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