I’ve not been following Gears of War 3’s development too closely. In all honesty even if it gets a clean sweep of one out of tens I’ll still be getting it on day one just to see how the story pans out.
So it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I sat down to play the latest code at the Eurogamer Expo. Epic chose to show off ‘Beast Mode’ at the event – a twist on the normal multiplayer, as you take control of one of the Locust horde in an effort to kill wave after wave of the human menace. The mode starts with a set number of humans in the vicinity – and the objective is to wipe them out before the timer hits zero. If you succeed you move on to the next wave.
At the very start you only have access to two of the weaker variety of Locust – the Ticker and the Wretch. The Wretch is quite nimble, and has a decent melee attack, but isn’t much fun to use and gets picked off fairly easily. The Ticker is a completely different kettle of fish and requires the player to think rather than charge in. The Ticker only has one attack – and that’s to blow itself up, hopefully taking out as many humans as possible. There is a small delay between pressing the detonation button and the Ticker actually exploding, so you have to take that into account when heading in for the kill otherwise you’ll be killed fairly quickly.
Making kills earns points, and points mean prizes – in this case new Locust units. The next one to be unlocked was the Boomer – although it was sans rocket launcher. Instead it had a whacking great machete which made mincemeat of the human opposition. The downside is the Boomer is slow as hell, and larger than a house and as soon as it is spotted cries of “Boomer” go up and the humans try and swarm it. This introduces some interesting tactics – draw out the humans as a Boomer, and then when you get killed select a Ticker as your next unit, run into the crowd and BOOM!
Graphically it’s looking great and instantly recognisable as a Gears of War game. The frame rate was rock solid too, which makes the massive delay next year all the more puzzling.
Beast Mode was by far one of the most enjoyable things on show at the Eurogamer Expo, and that was only playing with a fraction of the units – the locked out parts of the selection menu hints at plenty of variety on offer. I can’t wait to try out more – it’s going to be a long wait until the end of 2011.