Gears of War 3 "Fenix Rising" Map Pack
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft
Release date: January 18, 2012
Price: $10

"Fenix Rising," the latest DLC pack for Gears of War 3, brings five new maps to the table, in addition to some other odds and ends. For one thing, downloading the add-on enables Epic's version of Call of Duty's Prestige Mode, whereby you can reset your progress and gain shiny new emblems and weapon skins.

The DLC also includes seven new achievements (totalling 250 gamer points) and four new character skins: on the COG side, there's Recruit Clayton Carmine and Thrashball Cole (previously only unlockable in the beta). For the Locust, you get the Savage Marauder and Savage Kantus (previously only for Amazon pre-order customers).

We know you're really getting it for the maps, though. So we spent the last day or so playing around on them, and now we've broken them down on the next page. At 800 Space Bucks (or $10), we figured you'd like to know exactly what you're getting.

Keep in mind, weapon spawns are given to flux, and we may have missed a couple—if that's the case, be sure to let us know in the comments or on Twitter.



Notable weapons: Torque Bow, Digger/Boomshot, Ink Grenades

Academy is a largely flat level with very little vertical play, but plenty of opportunities for flanking. It's always easy to locate a fight, as the action tends to flow toward the centers of the map's left and right aisles. You can even stop for a rest in the library on one side and sit down with a nice leather-bound book (not really, but it looks pretty inviting).


Notable weapons: Boomshot, Torque Bow, Incendiary Grenades

Anvil changes it up with a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and a maze of angles, staircases and overhead walkways. Oftentimes you can see enemies but can't reach them without traversing a mess of bridges and staircases, making Anvil particularly challenging for Execution game types. Learning the map will give you a huge advantage here. There are more opportunities for vertical kills, but the circular layout of the map will ensure you're always looking behind you—or dying a lot.


Notable weapons: Digger/Torque Bow, Mulcher/One Shot, Boom Shields

The Depths is easily the most visually arresting of the five new maps, drawing from the campaign's aquatic final mission. It's a web of tight corridors, open doorways and more spacious atriums, though being underwater lends it a particularly claustrophobic atmosphere. It's rather like Bioshock in that way. An elevated central platform commands quite a view, making it all too easy to knock out a few opponents with the Digger or Torque Bow before they realize what hit them.


Notable Weapons: Longshots, Digger, Ink Grenades

This map should be familiar to fans of the original Gears—it's a straight-up remake, and they even kept the name the same. It's comprised of twin staircases, with opposing teams starting at the top and bottom, and landings in between every set of stairs.

There's plenty of vertical play, with the team that starts at the top given a distinct advantage; though the two snipers and Digger at the bottom even things out. The Digger is essential for routing the descending team from cover.


Notable Weapons: Boomshot/Digger, Incendiary Grenades

The Slab is a criss-cross of perpendicular hallways and long sight lines, but with no Longshot to take advantage, the Boomshot and other power weapons reign supreme. You can also gain an advantage by getting your hands on the deadly incendiary grenades near the center.

It's not tough to get your bearings here, what with those long sight lines, but there are still plenty of tight places to sneak around, flank and out-flank your opponents. It's the most close-quarters friendly of the new maps.

If you know the existing maps like the lines in Marcus Fenix's grizzled face, there are far worse ways to spend ten bucks, and Escalation and The Depths are definitely two of the best maps in the game. And the ability to "Re-up" your rank (like COD's Prestige) is invaluable to veteran players, though we'd definitely argue that that should be available for everyone to begin with. Any more thoughts? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.