Review: Gears of War 3 Fenix Rising DLC
Think of Fenix Rising as more of a content pack, rather than Raam’s Shadow which included a new storyline and multiplayer characters. It’s got plenty of potential to keep you going though, as it includes five maps, four characters and three superb weapon skins.
The most intriguing feature about the downloadable content is the new prestige mode, which allows players to go beyond level 100 and earn a new rank colour. The system may not be as impressive as Call of Duty’s prestige mode, but it does allow the veterans of Gears to show their superiority over the newcomers to the game. At the same time, you also unlock a new weapon skin, two of which are animated, whilst the other one is shiny.
Your stats and true skill rating remain intact, so there’s no need to worry about losing all your kills and positions on the leaderboard, the same goes for your challenges.
All of the new maps work across Versus, Horde and Beast Mode, and in all honesty it works well across the three modes. There are certain maps which are more ideal for specific modes such as Escalation, which works best with Horde, as you can sit at the top of the long steps and use it as a vantage point to spot incoming enemies. You could also adopt this tactic for Versus, but people might send vulgar messages for camping.
Starting with Depths, this is a map for well-planned grenades. The map takes place in an underwater processing center and yes you guessed it, there’s water. Watching the water shimmer on the wall couldn’t be anymore satisfying and it looks stunning. I would say this is the best looking map of the lot, but I’d be lying, as most of them look pretty good.
Academy is set within a locust-infested Oracle Academy. It’s bright and sunny and there’s a range of stone pillars acting as cover. At first it feels more like a maze, until you learn your way around the map. There’s especially a lot of one-on-one battles, since there are a lot of paths from each spawn area.
My least favourite map of the pack is Anvil. It’s largely focused on long-range encounters, so that means you’ll be needing a hammerburst or lancer. It’s also easy to find your way around and discover the weapon spawns. Anvil places players within the ruined fortress of Anvegad. It’s similar to Drydock, as it uses some of the same scenery objects such as shipping crates.
The smallest map by far has to be The Slab, which takes place inside a prison compound. Sera’s worst criminals were locked away in here and that’s exactly what it feels like when you’re playing on it. There’s plenty of dead-end rooms, which open up areas to hide in, if you’re the last remaining survivor on your team. The most important weapon on this map is the boomshot, which can be guarded by the opposing team using lancers from a distance.
Making a return to Gears of War 3 is Escalation, taking place within Fenix family’s estate gardens. Once the locusts moved in they removed all the flowers and beauty from this map and replaced it with a ruin. However, there is a significant change in the map and that is with the lighting provided. There are street lamps around the entire map lighting up pretty much every dark corner, making it impossible to hide away. I actually prefer this version of the Gears of War 1 map, because it’s harder for people to camp and it lends itself to more open shotgun battles.
A better selection of new characters would have been more appealing to a Gears fan such as myself, but in terms of map quality, it’s all there and worth purchasing if you’re a “hardcore” Gears player. This pack is more about extending the longevity of multiplayer and at 800 Microsoft Points, some would argue it’s a little too steep to be considered a definite purchase.
Review: Gears of War 3 Fenix Rising DLC Results
What we liked:
Visually nice maps
The chance to level up again
Two new animated weapon skins
What we disliked:
Unlocking the new weapon skins requires you to prestige
Nothing appealing about the new characters
Aimed at the hardcore Gears of War 3 player