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General Description

Gears of War 3 is a third-person shooter developed by Epic Games and released for Xbox 360 in September 2011. Like the other entries in the series it focuses on cover-based shooting, memorable weapons and enemies, and extensive multiplayer features. The game includes a full-length campaign with support for up to four players, various competitive multiplayer modes, the new Beast mode which allows players to take control of the various Locust creatures and hunt down human survivors, and a revamped version of Gears 2's Horde mode which pits teams of players against endless waves of enemies.

The game's campaign continues some time after the events of Gears 2. Humanity's last major city, Jacinto, has been wrecked by the efforts of the Locust army, and Marcus Fenix and game's other main characters join a final effort to recover civilization and defeat the Locust. The campaign is intended as a conclusion to the game's trilogy, and includes plenty of fan service moments for players that have experienced the previous games.

Gears of War 3 is most remarkable for feeling like such a complete platform. Basic mechanical changes - weapon tweaks, new enemies, a extensive experience and achievement system - are consistent over all of the game's modes, and each is equipped with plenty of extra options, Easter eggs and deep multiplayer support. Designer creativity and people skills are the game's greatest strengths.
Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
Ratings at a Glance
Facts: 1 Title: GEARS OF WAR 3
Creativity: 7 Publisher: Microsoft Games
Business: 3 Developer: Epic Games
People: 4 Year: 2011
Problem: 5 Genre: Shooter/Action
Simulation: 0 Strengths: popularity, creativity
Popularity: 9 Platforms: Xbox 360
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

Gears of War 3 does not include much focus on classroom facts. In multiplayer games players can view an overhead map that shows the locations of their allies and each map's weapon spawns, though the game needs to essentially be paused in order to take advantage. The game's myriad experience systems all involve mathematics, as various actions are counted up and experiences bonuses are awarded for reaching various milestones, though none of this affects the game's mechanics directly.

Creativity & Imagination

By the Player:

Gears of War 3 is a game of fast-paced tactical decisions. Each of the game's modes involves battlegrounds littered with cover and a specific set of weapons, each of which has very specific capabilities. Players will have to deal with the unique scenarios in the main campaign, waves of enemies in Horde mode and finally direct combat with other players online in competitive multiplayer. Because the same central mechanics are used across all game modes, many skills that players pick up will carry across as well. Players will develop their own talents and preferences as they spend time with the game, and when players of similar experience levels meet it is most often the player that can use the tools at their disposal most creatively that will win.

Players also have options to customize their avatars in any mode outside of campaign. Dozens of the game's characters are unlocked for use as players level up, and each of the game's five starting weapon options have a series of unlockable skins.

By the Developer:

The Gears of War series introduced a set of mechanics and ideas that have resonated throughout nearly all videogame genres since its release. Naturally Gears 3 is based on these same ideas, but they've polished more than ever before, and the game also makes it clear that its creators have taken in other influences as well.

There is a general cohesiveness between game modes, and none of them ever feels like an afterthought. Mechanics, levels, enemies and a complex series of ribbons and achievements are spread throughout them. The game's campaign is more fantastic than ever, featuring gigantic new enemies and plenty of outlandish setpieces in each act, not to mention that it can now be tackled by a team of four players.

New changes also make Horde mode a much deeper experience. Players can purchase and upgrade various defenses on each map, and as they do so their skill levels in the various types of defenses increase. Adding this sort of tower defense-style element to Horde makes it much more interesting, and the much larger cast of enemies - including incredibly difficult boss waves - make it more considerably more challenging. The new Beast mode makes fascinating changes to the game, allowing players to control nearly every one of the campaign's wild enemy types to hunt down humans.

Gears 3 features all of the modes of Gears 2, and each is a much more complete experience than it was before. It's no stretch to say that the game's campaign, multiplayer and Horde modes contain enough depth to stand as their own complete games.

Business Skills

Business skills are vaguely involved when conserving ammunition from weapon to weapon in campaign and competitive games. They are more directly involved in Horde and Beast games. In these modes players collect money for defeating enemies or completing certain objectives. In Beast mode every time players spawn as a new monster they must pay an amount of money depending on the strength of the monster. In Horde mode players spend money to construct and repair various fortifications, like turrets, decoys and protective barriers. In Horde these decisions can be particularly important, as players can also spend money to buy back into a game when they're defeated if they have enough saved up.

People Skills

Every part of Gears of War 3 can be played by at least four players. Campaign, Horde and Beast modes rely on teams of four or five players to work together to complete various goals. Players can split into groups to hold different parts of an area, cover each other from a distance and, most importantly, revive fallen allies with the press of a button. The latter waves of Horde mode will eventually see players holed up into one well-defended area, and staying close to each other is important in the frantic attempt to survive.

 All this applies even more to the game's competitive multiplayer modes, where these teams of four or five players are pitted against other players online. Here every opponent is theoretically just as capable as the player, meaning that knowing the positions of one's teammates is one of the keys to victory. Players can also "mark" enemies when aiming at them, which places a marker above the enemy's head that all allies can see for a few seconds, allowing them to work together even more closely.

Problem Solving

Gears 3 players need to be able to read each situation as quickly as possible. While various power weapons are available on each multiplayer map, the game's starting loadouts are enough to handle any situation for the player that keeps all of their options open. The biggest issue is probably learning the options available on each map. Knowing the places that offer good cover, the locations or the map's more powerful weapons and the quickest routes out of an area are extremely important in Gears 3 multiplayer, where it's often a single well-placed shotgun blast or one second misspent in the open that leads to disaster. Players that can track their opponents while working alongside their teammates are the ones that will succeed.
These skills are most important in multiplayer games, but really the same ideas apply to team-based modes and the game's campaign as well. Here the game tends to be much more forgiving, but the same ideas apply.


Gears of War 3 is not a simulation game.


Gears of War 3 was received very positively by the games press. Reviews praised the game's lengthy and exciting campaign and wealth of new and improved mutliplayer modes. Many reviews call it one of the definitive Xbox 360 titles.

Controls & Options

Players can customize much of the game extensively. Weapon loadouts and skins for multiplayer games can be changed, as well as several levels of aiming sensitivity and central control options. More standard audio and visual options are available as well. Horde, Beast and campaign modes have four levels of difficulty, though the highest campaign difficulty must be unlocked by completing the game once.


Gears of War 3 was rated Mature by the ESRB with descriptors for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence and Strong Language.