Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gears 3 Beta Impressions

By the number of jokes we make at it's expense, you would probably think that we don't like Gears. Well it's actually the opposite. Jaison and I both loved the first Gears of War, which is why we are very critical of the series in general. We just want it to be as good as it could be. And frankly, that doesn't always happen.

As for multiplayer, I've been disappointed in the series so far. I love the concept of small 4 man teams forming strategies and working together to outflank the enemy. But by the time I started playing Gears 1 online, it was full of cheaters, glitchers and crazy fucking androids that headshot you across the map before you can move. We both got in on Gears 2 day one, and despite some gameplay improvements it was ruined by the lag, poor matchmaking and various other bullshit.

So is the third time a charm? If the beta is any indication, absolutely. I am loving it so far. And as someone who hasn't enjoyed the multiplayer in the past, that's big praise. What makes it better? Well for starters, you can actually get into matches quickly. And once you're in a match lag usually isn't an issue. I mean, it's there. But compared to Gears 2, and even Call of Duty it's negligible most of the time.

Movement has been sped up slightly, and seems to be more fluid overall. I don't feel like I am fighting the lag and the controls anymore. When I die (Which happens a lot) I feel like it was my own fuck-up. The best change is that rifles actually do damage this time around. The hammerburst still sucks (Surprise!), but the strategy of rolling toward someone while they pepper you with bullets is somewhat less effective. The retro lancer is an awesome addition, and while less accurate than the regular lancer, it's a great all-around gun especially for enemies just out of shotgun range.

Shotguns so far are a mixed bag. In King of the hill, the gnasher is like punishment from god. In deathmatch it's still quite effective and a good close-range choice. Definitely feels more like the Gears 1 shotgun which Jaison will enjoy. The sawed-off shotgun is a total pain in the dick. People love to hide around corners with it and 1-shot you. This is balanced by the fact that it's almost useless outside of point-blank range and takes forever to reload.

Other nice additions include a better exp and unlock system, an overhead map at the start of each match showing where the power weapons are, and the ability to mark enemies like in Bad Company 2. Team balancing still sucks octopus balls, but I guess we can't expect miracles.

I admit I was skeptical of their decision to make the gameplay more fast-paced, but so far I think it's working really well. I've had more fun with this beta than I ever have playing Gears online in the past. I don't think they've made the game any easier, just more approachable. Gears 3 takes a moment to hold your hand, before ripping it off and beating you to death with it.

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