Though the Campaign mode of Gears of War 3 was not playable at the Eurogamer Expo this weekend, deemed ‘too buggy’ for a public audience, Electronic Theatre managed to sneak a peek at the story-led gameplay component prior to that decision having been made. Though the controller wasn’t in our hands, the player enjoying the game in front of us was given a few moments of play time before being asked to revert back to the main menu.
While it could be easy to understand fears of the public reception to the gameplay mode, journalists had previously been treated to the Campaign in this same format. Of course, while professionals may be able to recognise the fact that any such issues would almost certainly be rectified for release, a consumer audience is more likely to treat such a presentation as more representational of the final build, a demo as opposed to a select portion of an in-development project. And at this point in the series, the public perception of Gears of War is just as important as keeping the core audience hungry for more details.
As it was, no such discernable issues existed in that which Electronic Theatre witnessed. In fact, the preview build appeared to be a near-immaculate presentation, starting with a dramatic scene-setter, as would be expected. Once the gruesome cut-scene had given way to the gameplay, the player was readily outnumbered, fighting-off a variety of enemy troops in a wooded locale. Walls littered the arena as would be expected, allowing for the snap-cover system to be executed as both a defensive and aggressive manoeuvre. Marcus was equipped with an all-new rapid firearm, which while inaccurate at long range made for very effective trip attacks at mid-range, drawing enemies in as flankers and addressing them with the raw end of a meaty bayonet.
Even in this preview build, the player was treated with a battle against the Lambent. Aggressively charging towards Marcus and co.’s position, creating a duck shoot that resulted in disastrous consequences should the player’s accuracy not be up-to-scratch. Complicating matters were bombardments from distance grenadiers, rendering cover near-useless as the player pinged from wall-to-wall, retaliating for a moment before moving again. Thankfully, Gears of War 3 has taken a leaf out of Dead Space’s book, and the grenades could be halted with a short, precise burst of fire at the enemy’s limbs, dismembering them and rendering them practically helpless.
As with all of pre-release showcases the Gears of War series has ever been the recipient of, this presentation ended with an intense boss fight. Similar to the Berserkers of previous titles, these new foes deflected bullets with thick armour while charging straight towards the player. A Hammer of Dawn attack was clearly the only possible solution, but even that instance couldn’t save the Gears from having their experience cut short, as the preview came to a close. With Gears of War 3 now set for release late in 2011, there’s certainly plenty of time to iron-out any issues with there may be with the Campaign, but using this stretch as evidence, even in its current form fans of the series are in for one hell of a ride next autumn.