After an impromptu two week break, we finally close off the Gears 3 criticisms. Not much to say about Act 5, though. It’s relatively quick as it is mostly combat oriented.
Starting with Home Away from Home, storming the beach of Azura is a well-designed space. It’s dark and stormy, but the lighting isn’t so bad that you need the headlights on the Silverback to see. The layout of the overall space separates the area into multiple compartments, while the enemy placement feels much closer to classic Gears of War firefights; Locust are on one side of the area, you’re on the other, there is cover for each side and the middle is for the dead. It’s very cathartic to play this chapter because of how it focuses back on the Locust and classic encounter design. At the same time though, things are mixed up with newer elements like mortars, landing Reavers, and the Silverback. Act 5 is already shaping up to be the grand finale of a great franchise.
Blackout starts seamlessly without a cutscene to transition between the two chapters. This is a first! The level design here is super linear, literally being a series of corridors with only one path through. It’s rather jarring to go from open areas with multiple ways of getting through to cramped corridors.
Inside the Maelstrom complex, there are three main generators that need to be powered down. After that, there are five—woah, that’s an unusual number—coolant valves to turn. Jace will say, “These things are hard to turn!” That’s all well and great, except he hasn’t touched a single one, leaving Marcus to do all the grunt work.
Turning all five makes things go boom, and the Maelstrom facility is on fire. Shattered Paradise starts with Delta Squad being reunited, with Marcus and Anya being joined by Cole and Baird. The chapter starts on a cliff, but it’s not immediately evident how the squad got up there. Also, the surrounding foliage isn’t on fire. I don’t care if the leaves and bark would have been soaked from the constant hurricane rains. The Maelstrom generator just blew up and has created a very large fire. That should be more than enough to dry things out and set the entire island on fire. This chapter ends by eliminating three catapults.
Threshold is more fighting, but eventually the squad gets into the hotel proper. Cole mentions how they shouldn’t sneak around the Locust because they have some scores to settle. Then Cole yells, “SURPRISE, BITCHES! WE BACK!” Thanks a lot, asshole. Maybe I want to sneak around? Get a better position for a better surprise attack? Do anything that isn’t confront the patrol head on? But no, Cole has to run his loud mouth and ruin things. Don’t tell me how your game is supposed to be played, Epic; I’ve put up with enough of your “designer gets to have all the fun” bullshit to get to this point.
Ascension isn’t very notable. Some exposition and allusion, a few set pieces, blah blah blah. The set pieces are cool, but the dialogue doesn’t really have any significance here. Myrrah tells about how Professor Fenix had four years to deal with the Lambent problem before E-Day, but that doesn’t really matter. This is something that is mentioned but isn’t paid off.
Act 5 ends with Reckoning. Professor Fenix powers up his Imulsion countermeasure, Myrrah attacks again, and it’s the final boss fight. Shoot it in the mouth, blast it with the Hammer of Dawn, avoid giant blasts of hyper beam death, rinse, repeat. Shoot it in the back when it goes on the tower. It’s fairly mundane for what is supposed to be the final battle. What makes it terrible is that the AI refuses to pick you up if you get downed. Furthermore, the Hammer of Dawn must be used here, which is the first time the weapon is required to be used. Not familiar with how the Hammer works? Too bad.
Speaking of the Hammer of Dawn, but doesn’t using it require an aligned satellite and open sky? The Hammer was rendered useless in 1-3 of Gears 1 because the closest overhead satellite goes out of range. The fight with the Berserker is timed because said satellite is on it’s way out. See, there are only a few active satellites left in the Hammer network. It’s far too convenient that a working one is passing overhead right at the exact moment that the Tempest is being fought. Furthermore, there is no open sky. There is smoke and clouds in the way, which should be preventing the Hammer of Convenience satellite from locking onto the laser.
After everything is said and done, the counter measure goes off, Professor Fenix disintegrates because he’s been injecting Imulsion into his body. Actual Lambent are shown to just drop dead, along with the Locust. That includes the Formers of Mercy, too. Why does only he disintegrate? Doesn’t make sense. Afterwards, Myrrah climbs out from the wreckage of the Tempest. She clearly hasn’t been infected with lambency like the rest of the Locust. But how did she survive a giant counterweight being dropped on her head and repeated Hammer of Dawn strikes? There is no reason for her to climb out of the wreckage other than for Marcus to stab her in the gut, which kills her damn near instantly.
And that’s how Gears of War 3 ends, with the main antagonist suddenly having her plot armor stripped away by a knife.