The Gears of War series has always been about brutal war, a desperate struggle, an entire world falling to ruin. That desperation has always shown in great gameplay, running, taking cover, gathering what ammo you can, even the most famous weapon of the series, the Lancer Assault Rifle, illustrates how vicious this fight is.
Every soldier has biceps the size of tree trunks, everyone looks scarred and battle hardened. Gears of War is not lacking in identity, and the environment from all 3 games is always echoed of a beautiful world that has since been destroyed. This awesome unflinching reality barely influences the story of Gears of War 3 though. The sense of real loss is almost lost in gears of War 3, make no mistake not everyone is going to make it. There are going to be some notable moments of darkness and drama in this final game of the trilogy. There needed to be more, more mistakes need to be made, and more fallen heroes.
The dialogue between characters is quick and snappy though bordering on overly chatty. But it gives you a sense of friendship in this ragtag squad, they really flush out the heroes of Gears in this game. Claudia Black as Sam delivers a solid and believable performance and Ice T is very much Ice T. Though when your focus becomes the character it doesn't matter how many burnt out cities you see, how many graves, it all doesn't matter unless the characters that you've fallen in love with aren't burnt to the ground as well.
Gears of War 3 doesn't feel like a world many survive but many of the characters feel untouchable and this is reflected even in the gameplay. Unless you're playing this on the hardcore difficulty you're not going to face a challenge, your squad mates are either too good at picking you backup or your enemies are too weak. Cover is still part of the gameplay but it feels less important, the mechanics of Gears of War 3 is as sound as it has ever been, weapons feel visceral, the enemies are well animated and massive.
There is some mission repetition, you are given a job and something goes wrong and you're given another job and something else goes wrong and I have not spent this much time in elevators since Mass Effect 1. Versus mode is fun, horde mode is as always a blast but the new retro lancer weapon is a bit of a dud. Gears of War fans are going to be very happy with Gears of War 3, it is a very fun game, great paced story, the heart of the game is the gameplay and that does not disappoint. But Gears of War 3 could have been epic, could have been more than just good it could have been great. They could have gone out with a major bang but instead they settled for something more conventional and more predictable. I give Gears of War 3 eight stars out of 10.
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Nathan Drake is back at it again, I got play the Uncharted 3 Drake's Deception and participated in the beta. And the impression that I got is that they are trying to make Uncharted one of PlayStation 3's premier multiplayer experiences and that's exactly what they should be shooting for. There are plenty of first person shooters out there, a slew of third person ones on top of that.
But Uncharted has another dimension that other games lack and that's quick, fast, and strategic platforming. The only other game that comes to mind like that is Assassin's Creed but that's more of a stabber not so much of a shooter. What I did get out of the game was satisfaction, pulling enemies off roof tops, performing impossible shots, great customization and a nice diverse set of low outs that help you customize your experience. These all work very well.
Even with the gameplay looking to be taken care of though the backbone of Uncharted is still the story. Uncharted 1 and 2 have some of the best stories in the business proving to be spiritual successors to movies like Indiana Jones. I did see some cinematics from Uncharted 3 and they were well performed and written but you just can't tell until you play the entire game. Uncharted 3 for the PlayStation 3 will be out on November 1, 2011.
Resistance 3 is a sci-fi action story that does not stop, it's not just a hollow shooter there is a real heart to this tale making it seem like a sci-fi version of Saving Private Ryan. The image design, the massive sci-fi world, and giant enemies is offset by a very personal story of a man trying to protect and defend his family. All the actors step up and give it there all you find yourself forgetting that this is a game and start to realize you're playing an interactive movie.
The story is skillfully handled and matched only by the gameplay, every weapon you may have dreamed of seems to be in this game. You can shoot through walls, fire one round into an enemy and have every round after that home in on that enemy so he can't escape. You can also shoot an enemy and decide to remote detonate that slug inside him, you can every create a singularity that sucks all the enemies into it. It really feels like the game developers thought about what you want and then they gave it to you among fantastic graphics, ear popping sound design, and smartly designed enemies and robust multiplayer. Resistance 3 is one of the most fun sci-fi shooters I've played, I give it a 9 out of 10.
Dead Island is deadly good! It is an amazing creation in what is zombie games. You wake up on a resort island and that's when everything falls apart. A zombie plague has taken a hold, there are very little survivors and of them you're one of the few who are immune to the zombie virus. This makes you incredibly valuable to everyone who isn't a walking corpse yet.
You choose your missions and decide who gets to live or die and the zombies are not always the most dangerous thing on the island. Dead Island is about desperation, all you weapons are found or created you don't just find AK-47's or Uzi's lying around every few blocks. You fight with baseball bats, paddles, sticks, crowbars, and your weapons wear down, get old, and break. You have to repair them constantly, upgrade them, and even create new ones like a baseball bat with nails.
As the game progresses the zombies get fiercer, mutate, even regular zombies have a lot of variation in their behavior. And as the zombies seem to evolve you have to evolve to by creating some really awesome weapons like electrified bowie knives. Dead Island gets it right, you always feel like you're trying to survive but they keep it fun. The island setting makes for a stark contrast to the nightmarish situation you are in and allows for a very diverse cast of characters and backgrounds.
The performances are decent most of the time and you are given four characters to choose from. The male leads are pretty stereotypical but the female characters are awesome. Dead Island also has great multiplayer in the most subtle way, when you're playing at home you will be alerted when other people are playing in the same location on the same map. You can then choose to join their party of survivors and this is all done in game so you never need to leave the single player campaign to go to a lobby, it's a very smooth transition. And surviving the game with strangers says absolutely the right tone for what's happening in the game.
Though when you're playing alone you are alone, the computer does not play the other characters for you, so when the cinematics play all four characters appear and this feels really disjointed, were these guys actually hiding in your backpack this whole time? There are a few bad performances, stereotypical characters, and it's nothing like the cinematic trailer but the gameplay is rock solid and the game is addictive. Dead Island is original and fun in a genre that has plenty of competition and I can't wait to play a sequel. If you love zombies and games, then you will love Dead Island, I give this game 8 stars out of 10.
I got a chance to play some multiplayer on Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary at Halo Fest, I also saw some single player fragments, here are my impressions of the game. The multiplayer feels great, they're using the Halo reach engine to power it but they are using the original maps from the first Halo. This allows for the use of load outs those special abilities that allow you to run faster, go invisible, and cover yourself in a shield that were first introduced in Halo Reach.
The maps are looking great in HD, if you played the original 10 years ago your muscle memory is going to pick up right where it left off. There are some new additions to many of the maps that allow for some more flanking and strategy, and for the support of jet packs which weren't around when those maps were originally designed. Naturally Halo multiplayer wouldn't be quite the same without the magnum and don't worry it's making a big come back.
It is a very tricky thing revisiting old multiplayer maps, it can be like having all the roads change on your drive home, but in this case the improvements are welcome and the HD reboot is almost distractingly pretty. The maps that are returning are timberland, prisoner, installation 4, damnation, and beaver creek. But the oddest surprise at Halo fest had to have been the Halo 4 Warthog appearing in Forza Motor Sport 4 this year. You don't get to drive the Warthog but you do get to check under the hood using Forza's auto vista experience which lets you explore the high end and rare cars in the real world. That sums up my impressions of Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary.
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