Gears, either automotive or servants of the Coalition of Ordered Governments defined my gaming this week. Gran Turismo 5 received its usual couple of hours of multiplayer exercise but I have managed to find a considerable amount of time for Epic’s latest.
Gears of War 3 feels like coming home to an improved version of the original Gears of War. It’s comfortable, familiar but better. And importantly far, far better than the disappointing Gears of War 2 whose sole redeeming feature was Horde mode.
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is about Gears 3 that Epic have got so right compared to the second game but I am very pleased that no time is spent ‘platforming’ your way though the belly of a worm shooting its hearts. Praise to the gods of game design for that one, though the jury is still out on 3’s final boss fight.[drop]The story is of course nothing to write home about but is at least comparatively well written. The graphics have lost the plastic-y look from Gears 2 and look great though I’m not wholly convinced by their ever-so-slightly cell-shaded appearance.
The gameplay though is awesome. After an initial couple of hours to see whether it was better than Gears 2 I’ve made an awful lot of time this week for Gears 3. Enough time that I’ve been through the campaign one and two half times already as well as having battled up to wave 40 in Horde mode with a spectacularly under-strength ‘team’, mostly just three players and sometimes only two.
The one minor criticism of Horde mode is that it does not seem to scale the opposition to the number of players; I doubt very much that two of us will be able to progress any further without competent backup. I have not yet played much versus multiplayer but the little that I have played has convinced me that I’ll be playing this much more online than I did Gears 2.
Now firmly ensconced back in Blighty, Tuffcub has been having some modern-day retro-tastic fun with Renegade Ops likening it to one of home computing’s best two-player experiences.
[videoyoutube]Aran has been playing the Ace Combat Assault Horizon demo which he says is “fun” but suffers from a sometimes irritating camera and insufficient 3D structures in its predominantly 2D city scapes. However, “doing a barrel roll in a helicopter is amusing though”.
If you have ever played Amiga classic SWIV then this is the game for you. Multiplayer jeep/helicopter action, massive weapons, even bigger explosions and voice acting straight from a 1980s kids cartoon. It’s so retro the ‘saving progress’ icon is a 3’5″ floppy disc, a detail that is probably lost on half the younglings who play it. Hopefully Sega are working on some DLC and a sequel, what a fantastic game.
He took to fiddling with balls when he visited EGX finding that as a self-confessed non-fan of rugby that Rugby World Cup 2011 wasn’t his cup of tea. In a FIFA 11 tournament at the show he breezed through the first round before losing in the second to an extra time goal having failed to make the best of some chances earlier in the game.
Our other EGXer who had anything to say was Kris who “played a lot” at the show. He singles out three particular favourites. First up is the “incredibly enjoyable” Sonic Generations. While the demo a few months back suffered from the backgrounds being strangely uncomfortable to watch he is happy to report that the current version is “all kinds of amazing”.
Was there ever any doubt that comic-loving (as in DC and Marvel, not Phil Jupitus) Kris would like Batman: Arkham City? While the game leaves behind the claustrophobic confines of the Asylum, even the demo provided a satisfyingly “much greater feeling of freedom”. He’s also positively purring with delight at the addition of catwoman.
She’ll have to fight for his attentions against Ninja Gaiden 3 though which Kris admits to falling “a little bit in love with”. With its “incredibly paced” action he says that its “just brilliant” before countering that the combat “feels a little over-simplistic, particularly compared to what Batman manages with a single strike button”.
And you’ve been playing?