You either love the Gears of War franchise, or you hate it. Both games have never tried to hide what they’re about; a white knuckle-ride pumped with so much testosterone that you hardly notice the absence of a single logical plot point. Brilliant in co-op, both offline and online. Point the analogue stick and shoot alongside Marcus, Dom and the Cole Train. Simple.
So as you’ve probably gathered from the trailer above, Gears of War 3 has just been announced for April 2011. Not a lot seems to have changed from the visuals or core gameplay, but the atmosphere is a lot, lot darker.
It starts with the gripping audio. The song in the background is Heron Blue by Sun Kil Moon, a chilling vocal track layered over an ever looping guitar riff. The motion cap for Dom is as hammy as ever, but when he hits the ground and looks up wearily at the locust (0:30 – 0:45) there’s a genuine sense of weariness and despair. With Maria truly gone, perhaps there is little left for him to fight for. Did I mention how cool his beard looks as well? I like beards.
Delta Squad is no longer overrun by masculinity! Anya makes an appearance as a female COG, unleashing hell with her own assault rifle. I’m hoping for some classic brotherhood banter about her inability to drive or carry weaponry properly in the campaign. There were a few hints at a love pairing between Anya and Marcus, but I actually hopes that this emerges as nothing more than courting. Somehow I just can’t see Epic doing a traditional romance justice in the Gears universe.
The new giant Lambent looks interesting enough, but did anyone else notice that some of the locust were shooting at it from the front row? Perhaps this is hinting at some more problems with their inability to control the ranks.
Lastly, the message ‘Brothers To The End’ sends a chilling reminder that this could be the last instalment for Gears of War; or at least with this current set of characters.
I’m not too bothered about how Epic has fine tuned the gameplay, because Gears of War 2 was already a pretty well refined beast. I’d really like to see the team step up the plot instead, with a larger focus on:
* Adam Fenix. He was hinted at being still alive in Gears of War 2, with the message “This is Adam Fenix, is anyone out there…? Can you hear me…? This is Adam Fenix, can you hear me…? What have you done…?”
* The Pendulum Wars. The name on its own sounds epic. What happened and how were Delta Squad involved?
* Locust vs Lambent. From the looks of it, the COGs are going to be teaming up with the locust in order to bring down the more formidable Lambent. It’s a very unoriginal plot device, so I’m hoping Epic do something a little more original with it.
* Why was Marcus in jail at the start of the first game!?
* The emotional toll of the war on Delta Squad. Rather than constant action, I’d like to see some moments where our heroes reflect on the situation and show some of their weaknesses. Dom’s storyline goes someway to fulfilling this at the moment, but Gears of War 3 could truly become a classic if it pulled on the heart strings a little more often.