Wednesday, April 20

How Soon is Now? - Gears of War 3 Beta Impressions

Let me be completely clear with you: if the first few hours I've spent with the Gears of War 3 beta are anything to go by, the full game would've been right to ship today. If you guys watched the video included with the last post (courtesy of Gamespot), you would've seen that a representative from the development team was happy to say as much as well. The graphics, gameplay and connection quality are all reminiscent of a retail release, not a beta five months out from the fact. 

Matchmaking has been improved dramatically when compared to the previous instalment. There aren't enough Aussie players participating in the beta yet to find a ranked match, but jumping into a player match was a quick and painless affair. The quality of the connection found in those matches was even more impressive. There was none of the lag-prone shotgun dancing that I have come to associate with the series; the games I participated in felt as though they were "live," so to speak, not like a delayed broadcast. I genuinely felt as though I was on a level playing field this time around.

The retro lancer has so far been the greatest joy to wield. The bayonet charge is a truly empowering maneuver, allowing players to perform a deadly roadie run which can lead to one of the following outcomes:
  • The player impaling their desired opponent on the business end of their rifle
  • The intended victim gracefully rolling to the side and cutting the aggressor in half with their gnasher or sawed-off shotgun
  • The player being tagged with a grenade or torque bow dart just as they stab their target, with both dying in what has been termed a "Grenade Hug"

The sawed-off shotgun is a little too much of a gamble for my liking, asking players to reload after every shot. According to the informative menus, the new option is much more powerful than the stalwart, gnasher shotgun. The sacrifice of range and capacity though has ensured that I play it safe when it comes to my preferred boomstick. 

I haven't been fast or daring enough to make a play for the digger launcher. My compatriots and enemies know the exact route to the devastating new, explosive weapon, and I dare not get involved in its procurement and subsequent distribution upon death. I have seen plenty of my teammates use the new weapon effectively, and seeing the projectile rise up from the earth to claim a new victim is often hilarious. I have however, managed to pick up some incendiary grenades. The flaming effect upon detonation is beautiful, but lacks a sufficient level of power and control to be considered deadly.

The new progression and medal system seems to borrow heavily from the competition. Medals are awarded for achieving specific career feats like playing through your first match, or racking up 100 kills with a specific weapon. Ribbons are awarded for match-specific feats like being the first to die in a round, or performing five assists in a match. You level up in much the same way found in games like Halo: Reach, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and most recent Call of Duty instalments, with experience being awarded for making kills and assists, attaining ribbons and completing matches. There doesn't seem to be any clear reward for leveling up though, and this would primarily be due to the limited arsenal of weapons (and the obvious balance issues that being able to equip some of these weapons at the outset of a match would introduce) and unlockables.

For Bulletstorm: Epic Edition owners, the first week of beta play takes place on two maps: Checkout and the previously mentioned, Thrashball. Both maps are strikingly small, even by Gears' standards. That being said, both maps have various vantage and choke points, as well as copious amounts of cover. Weapons are placed expertly, forcing players to engage in the GoW series signature "rush in then retreat," style of firefights. There are some issues with spawn points, particularly in Thrashball, with players often spawning into (or reasonably close to) a horde of opponents; as both spwan points are at opposite sides of the short field. All things considered though, both maps are well-designed and are conducive to the series' signature play style.

Interestingly enough, it appears as though Monday's prayer session is paying dividends. I'm enjoying a reasonable amount of success and my head has only been shot off three or four times. If you've previously purchased Bulletstorm: Epic Edition then do yourself a favour and jump into the beta now. If not, you're missing out on essential and brutal action; and I'm not just referring to Gears of War 3.

Have a safe and happy Easter, all!


  1. Sounds like you are loving the beta bro! The gnasher shotgun looks like awesome fun!

  2. Ill be there on the 25th bro. Gonna mess with chainsaws in bellies.

  3. In love with it, technically speaking. The gnasher has always been my best friend in the GoW games. I love it like a son.

    Rubes - stuff chainsaws bro. It's all about the bayonetz!