?Marcus Fenix, it?s been a long time. So you?ll forgive me for outright sucking at the first few rounds of Gears of War 3 multiplayer, won?t you?? Epic?s third person series is pretty accessible to dive into, but when you?re playing competitively and the last time you played Gears of War 2 was three to six months ago, it?s difficult to get back into the swing of things.
Which was demonstrated quite nicely by the number of times I was curb-stomped, chainsawed and ultimately bitch-slapped during my first hour with the game?s multiplayer Beta, due to launch in the next few months. I decided instead to take the opportunity to admire the environments around me as I was repeatedly getting massacred. Yes. Nice detail on that pillar over there. What striking colour these plants have.
In all seriousness, the four maps you?ll get to play are much more defined than in past games, and one or two provide an added splash of vibrancy to the usually moody and grey world of Sera. The first map is called Thrashball, and is based in a stadium dedicated to the same titular sport that gave Cole Train his fame before the Locust war. It?s essentially a big open arena, littered with debris that can be used for cover spots and a scoreboard that teeters from the ceiling on a fine cable, just waiting for some cheeky bugger to shoot it and have it land on an enemy Acme-style.
There are some smaller rooms on opposing sides of the Thrashball stadium that house special weapons and bonuses that can give you the edge in a combat situation, and there have been a few tweaks to the HUD and Tactical Communications device that will help you discern these locations better. Holding LB for your TacCom will now show the position of your friends through walls and can indicate nearby pickups, while an overhead map can now be accessed which shows a lay of the land and the location of every player on it. Handy!
Grabbing the best weapons will be a matter of great importance, as your base equipment will be limited to a smoke grenade, pistol and a choice of assault rifle and shotgun. You?ll be able to use the classic chainsaw-tastic Lancer, the knife-tipped Retro Lancer or the rapid Hammerburst for the former, and either the Gnasher shotgun or the Sawed-Off Shotgun for the latter.
The Sawed-Off Shotgun is an extremely high powered bullet-sprayer, but takes an age to reload and can only really do damage at melee range. So the tactic is to mince your opponent up a bit whilst rushing them into cover and then blasting their face off as they try to escape.