Ahead of its worldwide release on Tuesday September 20th, the review embargo on Microsoft's Gears of War 3 has been lifted.
And it probably won't be the biggest surprise in the world to discover that the praise has been unanimous.
Here are a few snippets from a number of the first reviews:
Joystiq – 5/5
Gears of War 3has left me with a parallel set of emotions. On one side, it represents a powerful elegy, a close to a series that has done much to define this console generation. It's a melancholy thing, seeing a solid conclusion for characters that a lot of us liked despite ourselves, that make themselves even more understood in the end. ButGears of War 3does it with respect and grace, and even subtlety, for a fantastic experience from start to finish. And it bestows a postscript of one of the most full featured, fun, and polished multiplayer experiences I've ever played.Gears of War 3has finally kept the promise the series made six years ago, and then some.
Guardian – 5/5
Gears Of War 3 is a robust gaming package. Aside from the multiplayer and campaign modes – the latter of which can also be tackled in co-op or in arcade mode – this game is filled to bursting with unlockables; ribbons, skins, weapons – everything players need to establish their online shooter credentials. If Gears Of War 3 is indeed this franchise's swansong, Epic can rest easy knowing their world-conquering series ended on something of a high note. It really is one of this year's essential titles.
CVG – 9/10
There's no doubt the series has grown with every instalment, and number three sees Epic at its unsurprisingly best.Original or not, the solo campaign is solid in every department and brim with class, while the Versus, Co-Op, Horde, Beast and ambitious DLC plans should see Gears live on for years - even if this is the last time Epic has to use that chainsaw gun. For the record, we hope it isn't.
Eurogamer – 8/10
So where do you go after "bigger, better and more badass?" You go to your fans and give them that which they crave. But now Epic has surely exhausted the formula in its current form - and, probably, on current-gen - the really exciting question is: where next?
Spong – 95%
A blockbuster in every sense of the word. Gears of War 3 absolutely screams ‘Hollywood' and has the immersive action gameplay to match. Vastly improved from its predecessor, with an engaging multiplayer system that will make you gladly keep playing for months and months to come. One of the Xbox 360's finest.
TheSixthAxis – 9/10
Gears of War 3 is the best in the series. While it doesn't make generational leaps in terms of its visual presentation, and the multiplayer modes are more evolution than revolution, it adds a whole new layer of emotion to the dynamic. Gears has always been the best third person cover-based shooter available but now it rivals most other modern games in terms of narrative, characterisation and empathetic attachment. Put simply, it's a brilliant end to one of the finest trilogies in gaming.
Digital Spy – 5/5
Gears of War 3could have quite easily become a predictable and by-the-numbers sequel, sticking to familiar mechanics and obvious additions, but pleasingly it does so much more.