What’s Wrong With Gears of War 3

Why the last in the Gear’s trilogy might be remembered as a flawed great instead of a masterpiece.

Brothers to the end...which might be sooner than later.

(NOTE: This is a post that I originally wrote for Bitmob’s Gears callout.) Let me start off by saying Gears of War 3 is a great game, one of the best in the already-crowded shooter genre. That being said there are some flaws with the game, some of these problems are serious while others are just plain annoying. At the time of writing this I am currently level 35, have beaten the campaign on hardcore with three of my friends, and have several years of gears experience under my belt. In my opinion the following are Gears 3’s biggest problems.

  • The map selection is pathetic and ironically crippled by Epic’s DLC plans.

On a recent episode of Inside Xbox (which can be found on your 360 dashboard) Cliffy B says that Halo 2 was the original Xbox’s defining experience and he hopes that the same could be said for Gears 3 on the 360. Halo 2 which shipped in 2004 came with 12 maps on the disc and another 2 maps as free DLC a few months later. Gears 3 will definitely have DLC with three new maps already being found on the disc as locked content, but the chances of it being free are slim to none. When Gears 1 was first released and it was time for a Title Update, Mark Rein and Cliffy B were guests on 1UP Yours and took a staunch position on fighting for free content and not charging players for DLC. Back then when Unreal Tournament was still fresh in everyone’s minds with new content being regularly released for free, it was easy to believe the guys from Epic that pricing was out of their hands. In the day and age of forty-five dollar weapon skins, not so much.

Both Gears 2 and 3 featured 10 maps for their multiplayer components but Gears 2 included 5 old maps for all new copies of the game, bolstering its total map count to 15. One of Gears 3’s few maps is yet another remake of Gridlock, a map that has been seen in every iteration of the Gears franchise. So Gears 3 is a downgrade in quantity from Gears 2, but that’s okay as long as the quality is there. Unfortunately it’s not. In my honest opinion, the maps found in Gears of War 3 are the worst in the series yet. The low points of these maps are Overpass, a map that features only one entrance to the high ground that practically decides the game and encourages camping in every way possible. The other is Sandbar, a map way too big for Gears and feels like something you would expect to find in a Halo Big Team Battle playlist. Epic has made some blunders with their multiplayer map choices and as a result there’s not a doubt in my mind many players will quickly drop the game for something else in the busy fall gaming season.

  • The starting weapon balance is non-existent.

New to Gears of War is your choice of starting with one of three rifles and one of two shotguns. Out of the three rifles only the normal lancer is somewhat balanced with the Hammerburst decimating anything at long distance and the Retro doing the same at close range. And while the screams of the crowd shouldn’t always be believed, type Gears 3 Sawed-off shotgun into Google and the first suggestion is SOS Overpowered. Being a Gears 1 and 2 vet I’ve been an advocate for the Gnasher shotgun, but losing over and over to mindless players who just rush in and are rewarded with a kill for aiming slightly in my direction has caused me to jump ship. You’ll hear message board jockeys scream all day about why the SOS “isn’t that bad,” or “not that overpowered,” but challenge your friend to a 1 on 1 duel of Gnasher versus Sawed-off. Even if you’re much better than him chances are he’ll take a few rounds off you, and in a competitive game rewarding an inferior player is just unacceptable.

  • The campaign makes arbitrary decisions that serve as nothing but to annoy the players.

    Who the hell is this guy?

Want to play on the game’s hardest difficulty? Well you’re going to have to beat the game first before you can do that. A good trick to artificially lengthen games without replay value but with Gears’ extensive multiplayer it’s just unneeded. The bosses in the game also have way too much health and it seems Epic’s design motto for them was “length = difficulty”. There are also numerous occasions where you’ll be asked to take a branching path from your AI or CO-OP partners in which you’re reunited no more than a minute later. It’s just confusing and not needed.

Like I’ve said the game is still great, it might just not be remembered as a classic because of these issues. Looking at Epic and Gear’s past though we will certainly see more maps and title updates that will hopefully correct some of the existing issues. Many competitive games need frequent patches before they hit that point of balance where there aren’t any huge glaring problems, the fact that my friends and I will be playing Gears every night says something about Epic’s initial shot and just how fun the game is. Let’s just hope that they don’t let greed get in the way of turning their game into something that will be played for years (or until the next inevitable game is released).


~ by spruchy on October 1, 2011.

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