Finished Gears of War 3 yesterday after a long hiatus (in which I basically finished Dead Space 2, Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2 again, and some other stuff). Playing GoW3 after finishing ME1/ME2 reminds me of the major difference between third person shooters and third person shooters with roleplaying elements.
GoW3 is relentless. Kill your way through a bunch of the enemy, moving from cover to cover with the odd moment of heroic full on battle charging thrown in, watch a 2 minute cut scene, and then rinse and repeat. During the scenes you are an observer, not a participant, watching a scene take place from some eye-in-the-sky camera.
This isn’t a complaint by the way – just an observation (an obvious observation). I had to take a 5 or 10 minute break after most of the long set pieces in GoW3 just to break that relentless feeling of bullet-powered progression. It’s probably the exact feeling the game designers were going for.
With games like Mass Effect, there are long stretches of combat (more so in ME2), which can feel pretty relentless, but thrown in you get periods of dialog in which you control the direction, and I think that’s the key about why I prefer those games over just standard 3rd person shooters. You are more invested in the character, you do feel more part of the story rather than an observer of it.
Anyway, Gears of War 3 was fun, I took too long a break to really say if it was gripping and I can’t say much other than it was pretty much like the first two. Fun, frivolous and entertaining, but on a different engagement level than Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout, etc.