A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know GEARS OF WAR 3 is a very violent and gory third person shooter game. Players have access to a number of deadly weapons to kill aliens -- who explode into messy chunks -- plus there are other melee weapons like lances, chainsaws, and special suits that can decapitate and dismember at close range. There are rewards (24 of them) for creative kills and the option for dramatic and over-the-top finishing moves. Language is also very strong it this game. But parents should know both gore and strong language can be turned off in the Options screen.
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What's it about?
The third and final game in the sci-fi trilogy, GEARS OF WAR 3 is once again a game of survival, as you play as Marcus Fenix, a beefy war hero with arms the size of tree trunks. Fenix is the leader of the Delta Squad, members of the diminishing "Coalition of Ordered Governments" ("COG") -- humankind's last hope from being obliterated by vicious aliens named Locusts. Without giving away much of the story –- which takes place 18 months after the events of Gears of War 2 -- there are many recurring characters from past games, new playable COG fighters, and a handful of plot twists and other surprises, too. Gears of War 3 is a "stop and pop" action game that has you taking cover behind objects while peeking around to take down numerous enemies with plenty of firepower. You can vault over objects, crawl, sprint, revive squadmates, and pick up ammo and other goodies. The single-player game can take between 15 and 20 hours to complete, plus there are many cooperative and competitive game modes that delivers a lot more content for mature Xbox 360 gamers.
Is it any good?
The good news for fans of the Gears of War series is this third installment is the best yet, with a compelling single-player campaign and plenty of multiplayer mayhem to indulge in online with friends. The bad news, however, is this new disc marks the conclusion of one of the most celebrated and successful Xbox 360 game franchise to date. Developer Epic Games did a "bag up" job with this frantic third-person shooter, but they didn't mess with the formula too much. The pacing of these missions feels great, weaving in story elements and short cut-scene sequences that give meaning to your actions. Plus, the graphics are stunning (despite some occasional frame rate hiccups when there's a lot of action onscreen). Levels are well-designed and enemy artificial intelligence (A.I.) is very smart. As with past games, expect many encounters with impressive (and massive) boss creatures that'll require brains and brawn to successfully take down with your team.
After you finish the game on one of the various difficulty levels (including Hardcore), you'll likely want to play it all over again in up to four-player co-op (cooperative). This way, everyone takes control over a different character in the Delta Squad. There are also many competitive multiplayer modes to indulge in over the Xbox Live service ($60/year). Five-player "Horde" mode, for example, pits you against wave after wave of Locusts creatures while "Beast" mode turns the tables and has you play as the Locust. "Versus" mode alone has 10 different multiplayer maps to try out. While Epic Games didn’t really add anything new to the gameplay, Gears of War 3 serves as an explosive conclusion to the best-selling series and will no doubt satiate both longtime fans and new players alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence when playing video games.
Families can also talk about whether Epic Games, the developer of GEARS OF WAR 3, should've added more new features to this third and final game in the series or were they smart to keep the same gameplay and features for those who simply want more of the same? That is, the game doesn't veer away much from its predecessors, so will players be happy or disappointed about that?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.