I've only spent a few short hours with the campaign and some of the Horde 2.0, but so far, this game is turning out to be exactly what Epic and Microsoft promised, an amazing close to a great game series. Additions to the core campaign most people will like would be 4 player co-op. Always wanted that in the previous games, but the way they were designed it really only felt right with 2 players. This time every mission requires a team of 4, which means real 4 player co-op is possible and quite fun. Playing the campaign alone isn't bad, but as I've read in reviews and agree, it really is meant to be played with real people.
Playing with the equivalent of bots allows you to enjoy the game but it won't be as rich of an experience in my opinion. You still have the cog tag collection hunt, along with the little collectible bits of paperwork strewn throughout the game just as in previous games in the series. Another cool addition, for those playing co-op, is the arcade mode. In this mode you still play the core campaign but everyone is scored. Depending on amount of kills, rescues and so on you get a score. It doesn't really do much but add a taste of competition to the 2-4 player campaign, but it definitely adds to the fun factor.
Horde 2.0 is a ton of fun. The addition of "buying" emplacements and so on really adds to the depth. For those that love the original Horde from Gears 2 though, the hardcore lovers of the mode, you might be a touch disappointed that it's been changed. For me, it's a change for the better. There are a ton of other multiplayer modes that I just haven't gotten to yet, but I will update my review when I finally get a chance to play them. Graphically this game is nothing short of amazing. Unlike previous games in the series there doesn't seem to be any screen tearing in the campaign. I haven't experienced any in the Live modes I've played, but reserve commenting further until I spend more time with it. In the Beta there was screen tearing galore, so I'm hoping they focused on fixing it for release.
Music is Steve Jablonsky (Gears Of War 3 The Soundtrack). If you enjoyed the music in Gears 2, you'll enjoy it here as well. Orchestral, moody and pitch perfect for the scenes in which the music plays. I miss the Gears 2 title screen song, but hey, this is Gears 3 and it needs to be refreshed. Sound effects and voice work are equally amazing. All the voice actors from the previous games make appearances here as well, including fan favorite Cole. Really high quality work. Over all the game feels like a truly worthy upgrade to a truly classic series. I'll miss the further adventures of Marcus and gang, assuming we don't really see a sequel or extension (highly unlikely, right). It's like closing a chapter with friends. Definitely worth $60. I bought the Gears of War 3 Epic Edition and love it, but the game on its own stands tall. EDIT 9/21/2011 - I've now spent a total of 10 hours in the campaign. This is me playing from Act 1-1 to Act 2-6 on my own, then playing through the same with my 65 yr old father.
We were both having a blast with it. We also had a few people join the party and we went through part of Act 2 w/ 4 people. Despite the larger amount of people there were still plenty of Grubs to kill for everyone and still had some challenge to it. With 4 decent player characters though, even hardcore is a touch "easy." BEAST MODE- this is one awesome addition to the franchise! You and a party of up to 4 other people (5 total) take control of the Locust and get to try and kill as many humans as possible. It uses a money concept similar to the emplacements and weapons in Horde 2.0 (which also feels a lot like the way it works in say, Call of Duty Black Ops zombie bits). You have to purchase your Locust and as you kill more people, you get more money, which enables you to buy better and better Grubs, all the way up to a Berserker, which is awesome! If you only have 30 minutes to play Gears and have some buddies on Live, this is a fast paced, frenetic jump of fun for sure! NEW WEAPONS- the sawed off shotgun is the weapon of choice for many a multiplayer fan. I'm personally not big on the tactics used w/ the weapon in multiplayer but once you get the hang of it, it makes a decent up close weapon.
In the campaign though it's not really a weapon you should be using. You have to get far too close to enemies to kill them, and in the case of the Drudges, you don't want to be near them when they blow up! Retro Lancer isn't bad. The handling is different, the active reload timing is different and using it like a spear takes getting used to. It seems to be more powerful than the chainsaw Lancer, but they built it to feel like a prototype of the chainsaw version, so they did a good job making it feel like an evolution from the retro to the regular. Good stuff! The Digger - you fire a projectile towards an enemy, it burrows underground and pops up near the enemy and explodes. It can be pretty devastating if you can get it to hit. That's all for this edit. Thanks for reading!