Gears of War 3 Hands-On

Steve Butts | 24 Feb 2011 19:00
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Coming up, I saw my guys pushing down the right hand side of the market, but I also noticed a Locust soldier crouching behind a wall on the left. He had a good shot at my allies as they were advancing. In the past, you'd have to shout out a clear description of this danger to the folks on your team, but in Gears of War 3, you can actually tag enemies to show them to your allies. Simply get a good line of sight on an enemy and hit the left thumbstick to make them visible for a few seconds to all your allies.

I rushed into the market, hoping that I'd have enough ground to build the momentum I needed for a truly devastating execution. Sure enough, the charge bar turned red and I rammed my bayonet straight into the stomach of the only enemy stupid enough to still be standing out in the open. I raised him up in the air and shook his body around with my bayonet poking out of his back. I lowered my rifle and his lifeless body slipped to the ground. My allies had taken advantage of my charge to rush other nearby enemies. One was down right beside me, so I picked him up and used him for cover as I approached the far side of the market.

Jim showed me another new move. Hitting up on the D-pad brings up the grenades, which you can now use for a bag and tag attack. Here, you basically stick your grenade in the enemy's pocket and then kick him forward, hopefully towards some of his friends. Then the grenade goes off and, well, you get the idea.

While the enemies were recovering, Jim took the time to tell me about another neat trick. There's a new mantle kick in the game. Where enemies of opposite sides of the same piece of cover have just sort of had to wildly fire at one another in the past, Gears of War 3 lets players mantle over cover and kick enemies on the other side. It stuns them momentarily and shoves them back, giving a chance to really let them have it. You can even mantle kick enemies who just happen to be standing too close to cover as well.

We kept playing like this for several minutes, slowly ticking away at each other's spawn counters. As they neared zero Jim explained that the game would transition into survival mode. With no possible respawns left, each side enters an elimination mode. The intensity picks up, as each death is a player's last, and a lone holdout can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Of course, that wasn't exactly my experience...

After a few rounds of this, we moved on to the new Capture the Leader mode. This is like Capture the Flag, but in this case the flag is one of the players. As luck would have it, I pulled the leader role on the first round. I had all the same abilities as the other players, but I also had an additional bonus to my Tac Com. Now instead of just seeing friendly players, I could see the location of all players. This ability was very helpful in avoiding capture by the enemies but, of course, all players happen to know where the leaders are at all times. While you can anticipate enemy movements somewhat, they're still going to be coming at you with speed and focus.

Finally, we played several rounds of King of the Hill. This new version is much more straightforward than in previous Gears games. It's essentially like a much more focused version of Team Deathmatch. Since all the players are competing to gain control of a specific location, the action tends to be much more concentrated than in deathmatch.

Gears of War 3 is already very polished, but Epic hopes it can still benefit from additional time in development. Fortunately, Epic's balance sheet gives it the resources it needs to take the time to balance and refine the game as much as possible. The beta will be a big part of that, letting Epic see not only what the community's response is, but also how players perform with the new modes and weapons.

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