Gears of War 2 introduced us to Horde Mode: a frantic cooperative battle that pitted small teams of hardened Gears against increasingly difficult waves of Locust. This gametype will doubtlessly return in Gears 3... but this time, we'll have the option of turning the game on its head and stepping into the stinking hides of the horrific subterranean invaders.
The spacious arenas with plenty of cover and choke points make a welcome return, but squads of Stranded militia and C.O.G. soldiers populate the map. Players are tasked with downing the entire platoon within a certain time limit, and to this end, can accrue tokens that can be used to purchase a Locust infantry unit spawn. Think of them as multiplayer unit classes with a cost to match their effectiveness. The humans may have Lancers and shotguns on their side, but each of the Locust options have their own advantages and quirks.
Tickers are fantastic fun to use, and are likely to become the go-to unit for many players. They may be cheap and extremely fragile, but the aim of the game is to scuttle into a group of foes and blow them sky high. Seriously, they're well worth the price of admission by themselves.
The fragile Wretches are a extremely difficult to master. They can use cover and roll out of danger, but any veteran Gear knows that they can't take what they dish out. Your melee swipe is will knock out a basic stranded soldier in a few hits, but you'll need to count on your player-controlled allies to provide a distraction for mobile flanking tactics.
Locust Infantry (including standard troopers, grenadiers etc) can also be unlocked and provide a fairly standard third person shooter fare. They feel very familiar to most gamers, and allow players to use standard infantry tactics against the C.O.G. However, weapon loadouts, grenades and maximum health do differ significantly between the classes.
The Butcher is the lowest tier of the heavy Locust, and is unlocked from the get-go. As you'd expect, he moves at a lumbering pace and can take a ridiculous amount of punishment before being downed. However, his health doesn't regenerate- and as an enormous target, you'd better make absolutely sure that you don't break cover too soon.
The Kantus is essentially a medic who can revive downed comrades and keep his allies in the fight. He's also handy in a firefight and can mete out severe punishment at medium range, but has a hefty cost to match.
Oh, and the Berzerker is ridiculous. She's difficult to steer when charging at full tilt, but cover and cars don't stand a chance compared to her incredible brute strength.To balance this out, experienced Gears may remember that the Berzerker is essentially blind- which carries over into the multiplayer with a restrictive view that can mask canny enemy units. Use with merry abandon- but your allies will need to back you up much like infantry units would support a tank in an urban operation.
Sounds like fun? You bet it is. Horde Mode already offers one of the most enjoyable cooperative experiences on the console- and Beast Mode is a truly satisfying addition to the package. Die, groundwalker!