I've always been a fan of the series -- the multiplayer side in particular -- and my excitement for another Gears of War, especially following a successful beta, was at an all-time high. With dedicated servers, updated weekly playlists and a variety of new modes, including a much-improved Horde mode, Gears of War 3 came equipped with more replay value than any of its predecessors.
Pacing is another crucial lesson Epic learned and exercised in Gears of War 3. The gameplay never got stagnant -- brief exchanges between the main characters and a few cutscenes propelled the story, as has become the norm for the series, but the gameplay kept a consistent and engaging clip. Skirmishes flowed into larger battles; the scale of conflict and added variety of enemies made each encounter fresh. Gears of War 3 never tried to impress by showing something spectacular. It impressed by making you play through spectacular scenarios.
If Halo: Reach was Bungie's swan song to the Halo franchise, Gears of War 3 is Epic's dissertation paper. It's an exhausting report of the successes Epic has learned, one that's helped Gears of War 3 stand tall amongst the finest shooters in this generation.
Joystiq is revealing its 10 favorite games of 2011 throughout the week. Keep reading for more top selections and every writer's personal, impassioned picks in Best of the Rest roundups. The list so far: