Gears of War 3 continues on the story from Gears of War 2 unsurprisingly, though several years have passed. On the planet of Sera, the humans and the monstrous locust have been fighting for the last 14 years since emergence day or E-day. The sinking of Jacinto at the end of Gears 2 decimated the locust threat but a new enemy has emerged called the lambent, which are basically glowing, explosive locust.
Gears of War has always been noted for its visceral weaponry, most notably the lancer, a rifle with a chainsaw. Gears 3 has expanded on this with the retro lancer, a rifle with more recoil and a normal bayonet and its ability to carry out a "retro charge" where you literally charge an enemy, impale them with the bayonet and throw the corpse to one side. Other new weapons are the Sawed-off shotgun, which is insanely powerful at point blank range, but is balanced by low ammo and long reloads. and the Digger, a gun that fires subterranean explosives that pop out of the ground killing anyone nearby or can be fired into their chest for a quicker kill!
Besides that is the One-Shot, a new heavy weapon that aims with a laser and once charged does what its name suggests. Also added is the new heavy weapon the Vulcan, a mingun with really quick firing but is best used with a 2nd player acting as an ammo loader. They've also added an incendiary grenade, which basically does what it says on the tin.
Gears 2 ramped up the executions that you could perform and this has been further developed in 3, with each weapon now having its own unique execution. These executions need to be unlocked by performing a certain number of kills with the weapon so they actually feel like a little in game reward, and the executions are fairly visceral. Just so you can enjoy them, check all of them out in the video below.
As with the executions there is a lot of content that you can unlock by completing certain tasks. Multiplayer character skins and weapon skins can be unlocked by leveling up your character and obtaining various medals. The medals are another new addition. Practically everything in Gears 3 has an onyx medal to work towards, from getting curb stomp executions in versus to pressing buttons in campaign.
It is interesting to note that in Gears 1 and 2 there were two achievements, called Seriously or Seriously 2.0, which required a certain amount of kills, 10,000 in Gears 1 and 100,000 in Gears 2. In Gears 3 Seriously 3.0 requires you to be level 100 and have all 65 onyx medals, which among other things includes doing 18,000 versus matches of specific types and 64,000 kills in specific circumstances, so will likely take forever to finish.
In Gears 2 they introduced the horde mode, a very fun game mode where you and up to 4 team mates fight off waves and waves of locust. In Gears 3 they have revamped horde. The principle is the same but now you earn money that you can spend on building defenses such as barricades, automatic turrets and the powerful Silverback, a mech with a minigun. These defences improve as you spend more money on them and of course there are onyx medals for spending money and for doing waves.
A new game type they have introduced is Beast mode, the flip side of horde. In Beast mode you play as the locust fighting the humans with their defenses setup. As you kill the AI humans and destroy their defenses you earn money that you can use to be higher and more powerful types of locust, the best being the Armoured Kantus, the Bezerker and the Savage Boomer, a boomer armed with a digger gun.
Versus mode has always been a big part of Gears, and Gears 3 is no exception. They have changed a few game types though. They have amalgamated the King of the Hill and Annex games to be just King of the Hill, where you have to take and hold a location that switches every 60 seconds.
They have done the same with Guardian and Submission, so now in Capture the Leader you have to capture and hold the enemy leader for a certain amount of time. Also they have added a Team Deathmatch and a newbie playlist to make versus more accessible to players new to the series. However if you've played Gears 2 it will recognize this and let you go straight to the normal matches.
Basically, all the good stuff from Gears 2 has been carried over, the weapon sets have been improved with the retro lancer and the sawn-off, the game types have been condensed without decreasing variety and the wealth of changes to horde and the new beast mode make this a game well worth buying, best game of the year for me so far.