I stood in a long line for far too long today, hoping to finally get some hands-one time with Gears of War 3’s single player campaign. I was in the multiplayer beta, so I already had a fair understanding of the changes that went in to the competitive multiplayer side of things. I was slightly disappointed then, to learn – near the end of the wait – that no, I would not be playing the campaign. I say slightly, because I would end up playing the revised 2.0 version of one of my favourite modes from Gears of War 2 – Horde.
For those of you now in the know, Gears’ Horde mode – along with the Nazi zombie mode from World at war – helped re-popularise the wave-based mode of gaming. Working together, you and your friends (or random people from the internet) take out waves of locust in rounds, with a slight reprieve between each wave. Well, it’s back in Gears of War 3 – and there are enough changes to make it feel fresh and exciting again.
The first major change that’s immediately apparent is that players can now build upgradeable fortifications, like turrets, decoys and barricades in pre-determined spots on the map between each wave. The second big change is that employing this sort of reinforcement, as well as doing simpler things like repairing them or even reviving yourself and collecting certain weapon-types costs you a fee using the mode’s currency. Thankfully it’s not terribly hard to earn cash, doing the sort of stuff you’d do anyway; killing enemies, reviving team mates and just generally blasting the heck out of anything that looks like it’s not human. It does add a greater level of depth and strategy to the mode though; and after playing with these simple, yet effective new additions for a while, you’ll never be able to play standard Horde again.
After 10 waves, you get to have a boss battle that features some of the larger locusts like Brumaks. There are 50 waves in total – so you’ll want to dole out your upgrades and do repairs strategically. Also included, finally, is a system of mutators, not unlike the one from Unreal Tournament where you’ll be able to make slight changes to how the game looks or is played. The only ones revealed so far are the Big head mode we saw in the beta, and a new, silly one that adds a laugh-track to the locust-killing proceedings.
It may not have been the single player campaign I was hoping to play, but Gears of War 3’s horde mode is an insane amount of fun. I played Horde to death in the previous game, and can easily see myself spending just as much time in Horde 2.0.
Last Updated: June 10, 2011