Gears of War 3 at Eurogamer Expo 2010

Those expecting a glimpse at Marcus and Dom’s new locust slaying adventures were left disappointed at this year’s Eurogamer expo, with no mode letting us take control of chainsaw bayonet wielding gears playable. Coupled with the recent announcement that the game has been delayed until the holiday 2011 release gauntlet, many might have been disheartened at Eurogamer on Friday. Fortunately, the game’s brand new multiplayer Beast mode had a fantastic looking and fully playable arena that allowed eager gamers to take control of the Locust horde hunting Mr Fenix and chums in an inverted survival mode.

The new game mode could be played solo or with a group of five at the show, and let players experience four waves of mayhem. As opposed to normal survival modes such as Gears of War 2’s very own Horde game type, Beast mode puts the gamer in the respawn queue for the unrelenting waves of enemies charging towards the good guys who are tying to live through the encounter.

As the Locust horde you have a strict time limit in which to try and take out the team of human resistance, which features everything from the unnamed civilians fighting for their lives, to Marcus Fenix and battlefield newcomer Anya. The unique aspect of Beast mode feels very similar to the quirk in Left 4 Dead’s versus mode. As well as being able to take the role of a bog standard Locust grunt that plays like a re-skinned version of Marcus, you are also able to play as the series’ slightly more unique enemies.

This beast couldn't help but feel slightly unwelcome

Tickers, wretches, boomers and even berserkers are playable and can be used to smash, bludgeon and explode the good guys into a very messy red stain. You are able to pick which character to spawn as before leaping into action and trying to get the kills. Every successful murder nets you an amount of tokens which can be used to buy more powerful characters. It is not entirely clear at the moment how regularly players will be able to afford the bigger characters as each game at the expo started off with 9,999 tokens, and nobody we encountered managed to exhaust them through reckless spending.

New characters were unlocked with each wave at the show, usually giving players a chance to choose from three at a time until the final wave which let you choose from all available baddies. It would make sense that in the actual release, the cost of spawning as particular characters would restrict which one you could use in each wave, but it was unclear if this would be the sole restricting factor. There were 11 unique Locust to play as with the space in the character select grid to potentially accommodate nine more.

From the point of view of characters with a more traditional control style, such as the medic like Kantus, the game played like very familiar Gears of War. The classic cover mechanic the series has made famous feels identical to how it is in the previous titles and remains just as successful for those wishing to avoid bullet assisted lobotomies. Controls for the slightly more unconventional nasties are simple enough to adjust to and were explained clearly on the screen.

The Beast mode arena that everyone was fighting over

Graphically speaking it definitely looks like a Gears of War game, but the Beast mode arena was flooded with a lot more light than the usual rainbow of grey we have come to expect from the series. All of the characters are presented well with some neat little graphical touches on some. For example, the Berzerker’s limited sight is portrayed by a screen blur in the creature’s peripheral zones, slightly balancing out the advantages of the screaming, run away train monster that the player controls.

The camera looks a bit close to some of the bigger character models at times, with the standard over the shoulder view becoming more of an on the elbow focus. Having a boomer take up half the screen may make you feel big and imposing, but it can make it very difficult to see enemies, due to the armoured, fleshy, tree like stature of the beast.

Overall Beast mode played very well and will make a great new twist to the already popular Gears of War online play repertoire. It would have been nice to see something that we recognised more as the Gears of War we know and love, so much so that the first thing we did at the booth was to quit to the main menu. Unfortunately our cunning plan to explore different features was pre-empted, as we were automatically dropped back into Beast mode. This is definitely not a negative commentary on the game style, we’re just a bit nosey like that.

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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