Gears of War 3: Fenix Rising
The Fenix Rising DLC for Gears of War 3 is in many ways a back-to-basics pack. It contains five maps—Academy, Anvil, Depths, Escalation, and The Slab—along with more weapon and character skins. Each one has a connection to the Fenix family from Marcus’ old stomping grounds to the prison he served time in for insubordination, giving all five a personal connection. Another added feature is the option to Re-Up, or in layman’s terms to rank up again for more unlockables after level 100.
Academy is a map of the illustrious training grounds on planet Sera. It’s typical Gears of War: beautiful architecture with a backdrop of mountains contrasted with all the fun, gory brutality happening within. Anvil is a fortress with huge cannons in the background with plenty of opportunity for cover. Depths is easily the most creative in the entire pack. It takes its cues from BioShock, depicting an underwater city with announcements via intercom and glass walls where fish swim by. It’s very easy to get distracted by these nice little touches even amidst all the chaos.
Escalation is a remake of a map from the original Gears of War. The map is a continually rising series of levels with anyone at the top having a distinct advantage over enemies below, although this is balanced by having the stronger weapons spawning on the lower levels of the map. It’s a wise choice to have turrets and sentries at the top during Horde mode and letting the Locust come to you, but as always making sure to never get completely overrun.
The Slab is a map of the maximum security prison Marcus is busted out of in the first game. There’s a prevailing sense of hopelessness and dread from every angle of the map. Doomsday messages are scrawled on the walls and a storm is raging outside. It’s by far the most atmospheric map of the lot, bordering on horror almost with the sense of unease it creates, especially during Horde mode. As what seems to be a standard practice, Fenix Rising is either 800 Microsoft Points by itself or thrown in with the season pass. It’s an excellent series of maps that will surely resonate with fans.