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Tagra Reviews Games

Tagra Reviews Games

Did you know that my friend Tagra plays games, and writes about them, too? Now you do! Read her stuff.

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I get it, 2011 was a great year for games. Couple in the fact that a lot of the really good ones came out in November/December, it will be months before I will have had enough time to play enough of them to speak intelligently. Maybe I’ll make a “Best of 2011” list in April when I’ve finally gotten through them all.

But if I do make that list, I guarantee you, Gears of War 3 will be on it. And I’ve seen many GotY lists relased and I have yet to see it included. Rose told me she even saw it on a WORST games of 2011 list. Really? I don’t understand. Here’s 5 things Gears of War 3 did right that easily make it GotY material.

1) Emphasis on story. Lets admit it, some of the story in previous Gears of War games has been tenuous at best. But for this game, Epic hired a legitimate, well-respected novelist, Karen Traviss, to be head writer for the game. And she knocked it out of the park.

Not only did the story work well as a standalone tale, it even managed to explain some of the loose plot threads from the first two games, retroactively improving them. That takes some skill. Not only that, but it works on multiple levels. If you’ve never played a Gears game before, the story holds up. If you’ve played the first two, you get a little bit more out of it. If you’ve read the Gears of War Comic books, you get a little bit more out of it. If you’ve read the novels, you get more out of it.

2) Additional game modes. Some games you can basically just play through once, and once the campaign finishes, you don’t have much else to do. That is not the case with Gears 3. You can play the campaign again in up to 4-player co-op. You can play it in Arcade Mode, a single-player/co-op campaign mode, but with competitive scoring and respawns. You can play Horde Mode 2.0, an up to 5-player co-op mode where you face off against waves of increasingly difficult enemies, now with the ability to build fortifications to help protect yourself. There’s the brand new Beast Mode in which you get to play as the Locust (including boss monsters like Corpsers and Beserkers) and you attempt to kill COG Soldiers. And if competitive multiplayer is your thing, there are 6 different competitve modes.

Playing any game mode rewards you experience points that help you level up, and reaching certain levels unlocks various character models, weapon skins and titles that you can use in multiplayer modes. It’s all very well done, and give you incentive you to play the game, but allows you to play however you want.

3) Continued support. If all the various game modes weren’t enough to keep you playing, almost every weekend there is a special event with a one of a kind, limited edition playlist. Maybe its boomshots only in competitive multiplayer, maybe its extra tickers in horde, its some new challenge that keeps the game new and interesting.

On top of that, they’ve released several DLC packs, all of them substantial. They even released a 5 level mini-campaign that takes place prior to Gears of War 1, featuring characters from the comics and previous games. The additional content all improves replayability, and has all been incredibly well done.

4) Improved graphics. The first two Gears of War games had a very bleak color palette to them: A lot of greys and browns. I get it, they were very bleak games. But it made the games almost depressing to look at.

Gears 3 took a different path, and is vibrant and bursting with color. And on top of everything else, it just looks amazing.

Graphics aren’t nearly as important to me as gameplay and story, but its worth noting that Gears 3 did a great job.

5) Finality. Okay, I know that I already had a whole section on story, but story’s important to me! And Gears 3 did something with there story that I feel bears pointing out: They finished it.

I understand that from a business standpoint, familiar sells. This last year saw the release of the 8th Call of Duty, the 11th(?) Battlefield and the 13-2nd Final Fantasy game. Familiar sells.

And while there may be another game in the Gears of War universe (likely a prequel), this is the last game with Marcus, Dom, and the gang. We got a satisfying trilogy, and it’s not going to get drawn out into some zombie property. We got closure.

So there you have it: 5 reasons. While we can argue until the end of time what the BEST game was of 2011, Gears of War 3 clearly is merited enough to make the list.

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