Gears of War 3 is easily one of the best games this generation.
It’s hard to believe that the first Gears of War came out almost 5 years ago. I remember first seeing the title, and being blown away. It was easily one of the most anticipated new franchises this generation. Gears of War 2 released two years later, and while an improvement from the original, but Gears 2 had some problems. Now it’s time for the final game of the trilogy, Gears of War 3. Epic again has made a lot of promises, and it is now time to see if Gears of War 3 lives up to the hype.
The Gears of War 3 beta has officially begun this week for gamers who bought Bulletstorm. The first week of the beta gives players team death match on 3 different maps, but more importantly we get our first real look at the revamped multiplayer experience. Has Epic finally fixed a lot of the issues that plagued the first two titles?
Gears of War has always been one of my favorite titles but it was never because if the multiplayer. Horde, like many other gamers was the reason you played Gears of War 2. There was something about the multiplayer that always seemed a little off. Weapon balancing seemed to have issues, and from my experience almost all players used the same weapons. Movement speed never felt right, and I always felt like I couldn’t get away from a bad situation fast enough. Even when I was behind cover. The whole experience wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t anything I kept coming back to week after week.
Gears of War 3 fixes a lot of issues, and even by just playing the first week of the beta, I am extremely excited for the full retail release this September. I have played over 50 matches alone in the first few days, which is more matches then I’ve played in my entire Gears 2 career.
Movement speed seems to be different to me, and the game is a lot more fluid then I remember. Moving into cover and more importantly moving out of cover is extremely easy. The easier movement allows for faster and more precise gameplay. I no longer feel like I’m not in control of my character. Being able to move much faster I can keep an eye on my team mates, and provide support if needed. Covering my own skin can be executed with ease, and now if somebody sneaks up on with a shotgun it’s my own fault.
Weapons have received a facelift in some ways as well. There are now 5 starting weapons to choose from instead of the 3. The Lancer and shotgun make a return, and haven’t changed too much. Added to the mix are the new extremely powerful sawed off shotgun, and the Retro Lancer. The sawed off shotgun requires good accuracy, but if you miss your shot prepare to die in most cases. The Retro Lancer features a charge attack instead of the mounted chainsaw, and is more powerful than the regular lancer, but has less accuracy. The Hammerburst actually has a reason to be used now with the added first person scope mode. The new aiming style allows for precise shooting and can really do damage if you have a steady hand.
The addition of new weapons allows for new strategies besides the usual shotgun shoot fest that happened way to often in Gears 2. With the charge attack of the Retro Lancer you constantly have to watch your back or you will get killed before you know it. The sawed off shotgun can be your best friend if you are sneaky, but if you miss your shot the long reload time puts you in a situation that will most likely get you killed. Sometimes you will run into people having shotgun wars, but it happens a lot less often.
Weapons that can be picked up haven’t changed too much, but they are some new additions like the Digg Launcher that will keep you on your toes. This weapon features a shot that goes underground, then comes above ground and explodes with a deadly blast radius. It extremely useful and can kill pesky campers that refuse to move, or can take out a whole group of enemies with a single shot.
Unreal Engine 3 got a nice facelift, and Bulletstorm was the first game that really showed off what the updated engine can do. The new version allowed for a larger color pallet, and it really made the world of Bulletstorm come alive. It has the same effect in Gears 3. Seeing a different color besides brown everywhere is extremely refreshing. Even with the better looking textures and objects the game runs at a solid frame rate and never stutters.
The changes that have been made to Gears, in my opinion, have been for the positive in every way. Next week players will get their hands on King of the Hill. Hopefully the improvements will continue through every mode. Keep an eye out for my impressions next week.
One of 2011’s most anticipated game has finally hit store shelves. Epic’s Bulletstorm is a modern day twist on the standard FPS market. Instead of the very popular tactical shooter, Bulletstorm encourages mayhem with the tag line, Kill with skill. Can Epic hit another home run similar to the success of Gears of War? Let’s find out.
Bulletstorm is a very different take on the FPS genre. Since Call of Duty has taken over the FPS market, every new FPS title is usually a military, and realistic shooter. Epic decided to go the complete opposite direction. Bulletstorm is unrealistic, over the top, and a blast to play.
The campaign is where most players will start, and I encourage playing the campaign first to get a grip on the wild world of Bulletstorm. You play as Grayson Hunt, a space pirate who was discharged from a secret army known as Dead Echo for betraying their commander General Sarrano. Ten years after betraying Sarrano, Grayson seeks revenge while being heavily intoxicated resulting in Grayson flying his own ship into in Sarrano’s killing thousands of people onboard. Grayson crash lands onto he planet Stygia with his friend Ishi Sato, and are stranded with no way off Stygia. They soon find out Stygia is loaded with man hunting tribes, criminals, mutant plants, and super sized monsters. The team has to fight their way through Stygia and look for a way home.
The Story of Bulletstorm is basic but it works. It has some twists that keep it moving along, and the pacing is quite good. You won’t ever find yourself bored along the 7-8 ride, and you will feel satisfied once the credits roll. Humor plays a big part of the story, and I guarantee you will laugh a few times. Profanity is all over the place, and Grayson makes quite a few sexual jokes that might make you say wow. Bulletstorm is over the top, and it knows it. I didn’t expect a elaborate story, but I was surprised how well the story progresses.
Game play is obviously the main focus of Bulletstorm with kill with skill as the tagline. Scoring points is your main focus, and just shooting people will not work. Grayson is equipped with various weapons such as the Peace Maker, a high powered assault rifle, the Boneduster shotgun, the Headhunter sniper rifle, plus more. An electric leash is also at your disposal that can grip enemies, and objects to pull them closer to you. After you whip something toward you, a kick or slide kick is available to kick enemies or objects away or into various objects.
Kill with skill is the tagline, but what does that mean? Just shooting an enemy won’t do. You must use the environment to do what Bulletstorm calls a skillshot. There are over 100 skillshots, and each one has a different requirement. Some might have you kicking an enemy into a wall of spikes, and other might have you blasting an enemy in the balls with a shotgun, then kicking his face off, literally. Every skillshot you do is worth points that Grayson can use to purchase new weapons, upgrades, and ammo at various drop ships throughout the game. It’s a very simple system that works, and it’s fun as hell.
Each weapon reacts differently to enemies. The Boneduster can blow a dude in half resulting in the Topless skillshot, and the Screamer pistol can blow limbs off resulting in the Surgeon skillshot. Every weapon also has a charged shot that is capable of destroying multiple enemies with one shot. The Peacemaker can shoot a charged shot that can go through enemies, and stacking 3 or 4 enemies in a line will give you an X-ray skillshot for massive points.
The Environment is also your weapon. A lot of times you will find various walls with spikes on them for kicking your enemies into them. Sometimes an electrically charged wall is your best friend. Giant fans for ventilation system will become your personal organ grinder. Massive man eating plants can become your personal pet.
Bulletstorm has different enemy types that will stand in your way from freedom, and each one is slightly different. Some types will do nothing buy charge at you, while other might be extremely quick and do everything they can to stay away from you. Different types of enemies cannot be kicked or whipped, which will force you to kill them in different ways.
Stacking is the key to be successful in Bulletstorm. Just killing one enemy at a time is not going to get you massive points. Leashing an enemy to you, then kicking him into a group of 4 guys, followed by grabbing you Boneduster with a charged shot, and blasting all 4 guys setting them on fire is what the game is all about. Anytime you kill 4 or 5 guys with a single shot will usually result in a big grin on your face. The different enemy types really force you to be creative, and when you find that perfect solution to an enemy type it is extremely satisfying.
After finishing the campaign of Bulletstorm, your real skills will be put to the test in Echoes Mode. This mode features small levels cut right from the campaign. Players must get through with a certain amount of points in a short amount of time. Each level has a set time that needs to be beaten, as well as a score that must be reached. You are graded with a star system that goes from 1-3 stars. Each level gets more difficult, and will once again force you to be more creative in ways you thought was possible. Leader boards are included with Echoes mode, and I can assure you that beating your friends will be something you will want to strive for.
One of the most surprising things about Bulletstorm for me was the graphics quality. For awhile the UE3 engine was showing its age, and it seemed like every single game was using it for awhile. Bulletstorm uses the newest engine version of UE3 , and some massive upgrades have been made. The color pallet is much larger now, and seeing colors like, green, and sky blue in an UE3 game is refreshing. Some environments look downright amazing with waterfalls, and tons of trees. The game runs at a solid 30 frames, and is smooth as butter. Even when the game has massive amounts of enemies flying, and objects exploding all over the place it never skips a beat.
Audio is also top notch. Every weapon has its own awesome sound, and your subwoofer is going to get a workout. Voice work is solid, and each character is very distinct. Enemies’ screams, and growls sound genuine, and the environment noises, such as man eating plants, can send a chill down your spine with its gross sounding tongue.
Multiplayer is something that I was personally looking forward to in Bulletstorm, and it’s the only area that needs a little work. Only one mode is available called Anarchy. It puts you and up to 3 other friends against waves of enemies. The goal is essentially a score attack. Each wave its own enemy type is focuses on, and has a certain score that needs to be achieved. If you don’t hit the score, then you must try again. Each level the score goes up a little, as well as the difficulty.
Multiplayer skill shots are included in Anarchy. Combining different skillshots with others is how stacking works in multiplayer. One player might kick an enemy while the other player could then kick him into a giant grinder. Sometimes special challenges appear that require special kills. My personal favorite is where each player must whip an enemy at the same time, resulting in ripping the enemy apart. Working with friends is an absolutely blast.
The usual Call of Duty style ranking system has returned, and is pretty simple. After every round you each XP which unlocks new armor and gun finishes. It is a very simple system that works, but once you complete all 65 levels offers nothing else to strive for.
Anarchy mode works well, but it left me wanting more. It’s a very simple design, and I am puzzled to why it is the only mode offered. A simple “Horde” mode would of been even better. Endless enemies with no real objective would of been a lot of fun. Also a mode where you were the overseer and could manipulate what and where enemies were spawning could be a lot of fun as well. The game encourages creativity, and being able to just screw around and discover new skillshots is something I would love to do with my friends.
Bulletstorm is an amazing game that everybody needs to play. Epic has created something that is just a blast to play, and is something truly special in the video game world. It is completely original and unique. I don’t think anybody could play this game and say that they didn’t have a good time. It is kind of shocking to see such a limit to multiplayer options, but hopefully DLC will fix that issue. If you are looking for something new, or just a game that is fun and mindless you need to pick up Bulletstorm right now.
What I loved:
-Insanely fun to play
-Graphics are surprisingly very good
-Doesn’t take itself seriously
What needs some work:
-More multiplayer options