Reviews

Gears of War 3 Strategy Guide – Review

Thanks to BradyGames for providing a copy of this guide for review.

Going into this review I’ve been a little nervous as this is going to mark my first attempt to reviewing a game guide. A quick glance at the shelf next to my mountain of games reveals that I’m quite the lover of strategy guides, with Brady Games guides making up the majority. For the most part the Brady guides have always been a solid line-up, never-failing to deliver a decent guide, but this time around they’ve outdone themselves in the creation of the Gears of War 3 strategy guide. So, lets give this a go, shall we?

After a brief introduction and foreword the guide kicks things off with a quick look at the games characters.. Since the majority of players in Gears 3 will have been playing the series from the start there’s not much here of interest, but it does provide some brief background information of Jace Stratton, Clayton Carmine and Samantha  Byrne, which is handy as the game really doesn’t explain just who the are or why they’re really there, though the separate Gears novels and comics do. But for the most part this section is here to remind those with a terrible memory just who’s in the game, and to provide newcomers with a bit of background info on the characters so that they don’t feel too lost, and it does this well as each character gets a short but well written segment.

Next up comes the Basic Training segment, which requires very little explanation. It runs through the controls and basic concepts behind Gears of War, offering a surprising number of useful tricks and tips, such as 90-degree and 180-degree Roadie Run turns, that should get new players up to speed without a problem and ready to kick some ass. Again, it’s a well written section detailing not only the basics but going through executions, meatshields, correct use of the active reload and more,so new players should be able to get into the game without much problem.

Now we come to one of my personal favorite sections of the book; the campaign arsenal. Here you’ll find a brief description of every weapon you’ll pick up and fire in the campaign, along with damage statistics for each weapon based on what difficulty level your playing on, what percentage of damage boost a perfect active reload will give you and a run down of how useful the weapon is at short, medium and long ranges, as well as offering ideas for how best to use the weapon. veterans should find the entries on new weapons extremely useful, and newcomers should pay careful attention so as to maximise their Locust killing antics.

The guide then moves onto the hostile forces that you can expect to encounter and shoot in the face during your career as a COG soldier. There’s a nicely detailed description of each enemy type along with advice on how best to tackle them during combat. For the Lambent the guide presents stats on how much health that enemy type has, what its threat level is, how big the Imulsion burst is and what weaponry and attacks it has.  For the Locust horde it presents the same information, but replaces the Imulsion blast with cover usage. I was impressed with the detail provided on the enemies and the tactics presented to combat them were extremely well researched.

So now we’re off into the campaign walkthrough section. Here you’ll find a detailed map for each level displaying the various objectives  as well as where to find ammo drops and weapons to make life a little easier. Collectibles are also displayed on the map and a handy info panel lists what enemies you’ll encounter during the level. Every level has a careful, methodical and detailed walkthrough that guides you through the map step-by-step, informing you of when to expect enemies and providing tactical suggestions on how to deal with them. At first, since I consider myself a Gears veteran, I was doubtful of whether these tactics would prove to be anything but shallow advice, but upon going through chunks of the campaign following the guides suggestions and advice I discovered that the strategies provided were extremely effective.  Box-outs also present advice for co-op play as well as the best ways to maximise your score in Arcade mode, as well as other little tips, tricks and bits of information. Finally, boss battles get an entire page to themselves, with the final fight getting two, that include plenty of useful ideas for beating these ugly bastards into the ground. I was impressed by the quality of writing and level of detail in the singleplayer walkthrough, easily making it one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of using.

On the multiplayer side the guide continues to impress, starting with the basic movements that need to be learned to survive the online killing festival that is Gears of War and quickly moving into the more advanced techniques such as the Roadie Run Switch and wall bounce. These two sections go into a good level of detail in describing how to pull these moves off and when best to use them in combat. It even suggests upping your controllers sensitivity to try to gain an advantage in close combat, a tip which shouldn’t be sneezed at as it can turn the tide of a shotgun battle in your favour. Stopping power, good use of the mantle kick, reticle bloom, target marking and using learning to use weapon trading are all touched upon and explained here, before going into detail on using cover for flanking and gaining elevation advantages on your opponent. For a Gears noob this guide should become like a Holy Bible of chainsaws, blood and awesomeness, offering more than enough advice for you to thrive in the multiplayer environment and providing a damn good starting block from which to advance your skills. Hell, even I learned a thing or two. It also stresses the advantages of team world and gives some advice on how to work together for victory, and the moves on to the different game modes and how best to tackle them.

The guide then returns to my favored subject of guns, breaking down each into a detail overview of how to use them in multiplayer, what their strengths and weakness are, advice on how best to utilise them and more. It’s like Heaven, but with guns!

Next stop is Horde mode, and, as you would well expect, the game provides a solid rundown of the basic mechanics of defending against hordes of really pissed off Locust and Lambent. It runs through the concept of building a base, suggesting what you should be spending money on first. Again, the advice here is sound and I could find no fault on its base building techniques. Most importantly, though, the guide contains a handy section of the various bosses that you’ve got to put up with every ten ways and provides yet more well advised tactics for taking them down. And to finish off the Horde segment it provides some useful quick tips.

Then it’s on to Beast mode where the guide runs through the core concepts behind the mode and then offers a detail section on what Locust you can play as what each type is best used for, as well as how to tackle the various human fortifications that get in your way. Not that anything gets in the way of a Berserker, because that’s just plain stupid.

The multiplayer section of the guide comes to an end by providing a detailed look at each multiplayer map. Here you’ll find weapon spawn locations, King of the Hill capture points and all the info you really need to learn the layouts and potential killing fields.. The actual tips it provides on how best to navigate the map and use its features is more limited than you might expect considering how detailed the rest of the guide was, though this is partially understandable as the style of play on every mao will change constantly as tactics evolve and players learn new ways of shooting the hell out of each other.. This section also provides a Beast/Horde map that depicts where the Command Posts are and what fortifications can be built where, so you can quickly glance at the moment and immediately decide where you want to place your initial base.

There’s also an even more detailed look at the games collectibles near the end of the book, and, should you be a lazy sod that doesn’t want collect them all, even provides the text from any collectible that provides backstory, allowing you to happily fill in the blanks without having to play through an entire level again.

Finishing off the guide is a section detailing the various multiplayer unlockables, achievements, mutators, avatar awards, ribbons and medals that can all be gained during your time as a COG soldier.

The Good:
+ Extremely detailed.
+ Well researched.
+ Solid tactics and strategies.

The Bad:
– A bit more on multiplayer maps would have been good.
– Not going to be a major hekp to veterans.

Verdict: 9/10
Game guides are usually solid but unremarkable, providing a decent walkthrough for the game, but Brady have outdone themselves here: this guide provides everything you could really need to tackle Gears of War 3 and plenty of tips and tricks that should help both newcomers and seasoned COGS alike.

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