I’m genuinely surprised at how much I still play Gears of War 3. Not only did it have one of the strongest campaigns of the year, but it also came packaged with some of the most addictive multiplayer content this side of Call of Duty. Luckily for us, Epic Games has been way too generous in giving us a ton of DLC that has kept us playing for hours on end. Their relentless attack on our free time continues with their third pack, Fenix Rising, which gives us Gears fans five new maps to play on, four new character skins and the ability to “re-up” after reaching level 100.
Personally, my favorite part of this DLC is the last bit. Now that players have the chance to re-up after level 100, there’s a whole new batch of medals and achievements to get. Each re-up also gifts players with brand spanking new weapon skins that can only be unlocked by getting that far. So, now that players can reach level 100 and start all over to get even higher, that should keep us playing for at least another year.
The new skins were also cool to look at, but they’re still only skins. Each side of the battle gets two new additions, and the Locust easily get the coolest looking ones. Included with Fenix Rising are the Savage Marauder and Savage Kantus skins, both of which look vicious and feral. On the COG side, we’re given Recruit Clayton and Thrashball Cole. I thought that Cole’s skin was a good addition, but Clayton was too covered up by his armor to really stand out.
Of course, the most notable benefit to purchasing Fenix Rising, is its included set of five maps. First up is Academy, which takes the battle to the titular Oracle Academy. The map is medium sized and great for a quick game of team deathmatch.
Next is Anvil, which gives players the chance to tear up Anvil Gate. This map is sprawling and lets both teams run amok in a pretty open field.
Depths was one of my favorite maps that was included. Taking place in the station inside of Azura, the map is huge and beautifully detailed, almost reminiscent of Rapture from Bioshock with the dripping water and abandoned luggage.
Escalation, the fourth new map, will be familiar to Gears fans as it is simply just an updated version of Haldane Hall, the beautiful Fenix residence. There’s nothing really new to see here, but it’s still a great map for playing a nostalgic game of Capture the Flag.
Finally, and my personal favorite, is the Slab, the prison where Fenix was being held at the very beginning of the series. Although it’s a smaller map than the others that come with the pack, I thought that it was the most interesting. Replete with scribbled death threats and warnings against the outside world, the Slab is filled with small details that make it really come to life.
So, I guess the big question is for those of us who don’t have the Season Pass: is this pack really worth the ten bucks? It honestly depends on how much you play the game. If you’re still obsessively mowing down the Locust every night, then yes, Fenix Rising is more than worth the money. The best option at this point is to get the season pass so that you can get the first four DLC packs for an overall cheaper price.
This doesn’t mean by any stretch that Fenix Rising is a bad add-on, however. Gears fans will be completely satisfied with the new content, and anyone who still plays online can make this purchase with a clear conscience. The only people that will likely skip on this are those with a Season Pass or angry beta testers who are still bitter about Epic Games giving away Thrashball Cole. For $10, gamers are getting a fantastic deal for an even better game.
Gears of War 3: Fenix Rising was released on January 17, 2012. This review is based on a copy of the downloadable content pack, which we received for review purposes.
Gears of War 3's Fenix Rising DLC presents a handful of great maps, a few cool looking skins, and a nifty new "re-up" system, making it well worth a purchase.