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First Impressions: Gears of War 3 Beta

Like most games now a days, there always has to be a sequel. In some cases several. Gears of War definitely fits into that category. With the beta for part three launching today, we find out if the newest instalment is worth something to add to your wish list this year.

Firstly I want to say this is the first time I’ve ever played Gears of War online. However, I’ve heard through several people that the online aspect of the series has fallen short.  Suffering from a case of the lags, it was under much speculation whether or not developer Epic Games could right the wrongs.

For those who are unaware, the current beta is only available to those who purchased Bulletstorm Epic Edition. Alongside that f@$% filled, language censored game, which by the way is really fun to play, came a beta code. It was a limited time offer, so I wouldn’t hold my breath if you ran to the closest Blockbuster. I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath while running anywhere at that.

In the beta, players are exposed to a limited number of maps. I got the pleasure of playing on Thrashball and Checkout. The first thing I noticed about GoW3 is the stunning graphics. Textures and shading are utilized very well. This pushes the Xbox 360’s graphical output to its limits. Side note: It probably doesn’t actually do that, but in terms of good word play it does.

The beta presents very few customizable aspects. In the age of First Person Shooters, it has come to be an expectation to have a certain level of controller customization. Premade controller schemes are available, but for a beta, players can make due. I found the controls to be a little stiff. Like I said before, I’ve never played GoW online in the past, so I’m unaware if this has been a continuous issue. It did take me a while to figure things out. At one point I had to look at my controller setup to see what I was doing wrong. When it came to switching weapons I wasn’t a fan. Using the D-Pad, you’re presented with a few secondary weapons. The problem here is in tight net situations, where enemies are closing in, it’s inconvenient and out of place to switch to your secondary weapon. For any veteran gamer, you know this can be a problem.

The other big problem I had was getting kills. Partially due to me being new, but mostly because people being little bastards and stealing them. For anyone who has played Call of Duty, they have witnessed and felt the frustration behind Second Chance users. Up until a few weeks ago, you wouldn’t receive the kill if someone else killed the person you put into Second Chance. Now imagine that time 10. Unless it’s a shotgun, players will go down to be revived. I can’t count how many times this happened to me within the three games that I played. I wanted to punch a donkey. If this isn’t fixed before launch, it could potentially be a game changer.

One of the great things about this series is its uniqueness. Sprinting may be a little stiff, but it definitely is unique only to this series. Rolling and hiding behind things in the environment are a few things that make this game stand out. I did have fun playing and definitely will go back and give it another round. I recommend anyone who is a fan of FPSs to check it out, but if you don’t have full intent on buying the game for its campaign or co-op you might want to think twice.

The Beta launch for those who pre-order Gears of War 3 starts April 25.