A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Any game with gratuitous violence doesn't give a good message to players -- even if you're one of the good guys. GEARS OF WAR 3 is a third-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on violence and gore.
Positive Role Models
While there are multiple player characters in the game, you'll fight mostly as Marcus Fenix, a weathered soldier and leader of the Delta Squad. Marcus is surprised to hear his father is still alive and sets out to find him. Fenix also works with his squadmates to stave off the relentless Locust alien creatures. But Fenix uses more than a dozen weapons to kill aliens in a bloody fashion and sounds like he enjoys it.
Ease of Play
This game is very similar to its predecessors, including the control scheme, but even newcomers should be able to pick up the game's controls easily as there are multiple tutorial instructions to follow at the beginning of the game. There are also three levels of difficulty: easy, medium, and hard. The game also has a section for newbies so that they can be brought up to speed on the previous storylines.
Violence & Scariness
GEARS OF WAR 3 is extremely violent, bloody, and gory. Using weapons including machine guns, grenades, and chainsaws, you'll shoot, slice, and stomp on alien creatures known as the Locust. Because they consume a petroleum-based liquid on this planet, they explode in a yellowy orange goo when shot. However, there is lots of red blood seen in the game, too, from fallen humans, primarily. Along with earning "Rewards" for creative killings, you can perform a finishing move on an alien that results in a gory display (including crushing skulls, dismemberment, or decapitation).
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The game includes many instances of strong profanity, including words like "motherf--ker," "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," "bitch," and more. The language is mature right from the get-go, spoken by many of the squadmates and other characters, but there's an option to turn this off in the settings. You might also hear profanity in an online multiplayer game.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.