In "Gears of War 3," the Earth-like planet Sera has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland, due to giant aliens going all psycho-killer on humans there.
Is there anything left of humanity for you to even save?
Well, you can try. You portray a couple of muscle-bound, beefy soldier guys. You shoot aliens on empty playgrounds, in caves, through dusty valleys, across bridges and inside buildings.
The kill-all-aliens storyline is full of crafty and macho dialogue. When you blow away aliens in a store, you quip, "Clean up on aisle five."
If you've played previous "Gears," the battlefield combat here may seem like the same-old, same-old, but that's sort of the point of game sequels. And there's some rodent stupidness in "Gears 3." I'll explain in a moment.
But overall, "Gears of War 3" (a Sept. 20 release) is a solid, cinematic adventure. It looks really incredible, especially if you play it in the dark. At its best, it moves and feels amazing.
Top Ten New Games
Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games at full retail price, according to GameStop.com. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Gears of War 3 Epic Edition" (Microsoft) pre-order for Sept. 20 release for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, strong language)
2. "Gears of War" regular edition pre-order for Sept. 20 release for Xbox 360
3. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition" (Activision) pre-order for Nov. 8 release for Xbox 360; will also be available for PS 3 and PC; rating pending
4. "Battlefield 3: Limited Edition" (EA) pre-order for Oct. 25 release for Xbox 360; will also be available for PS 3, PC; rating pending
5. "Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3" regular edition pre-order for Nov. 8 release for Xbox 360
6. "Dead Island" (Square Enix) for PS 3, Xbox 360; also available for PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, drug reference, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language, use of alcohol)
7. "Gears of War 3 Ultimate Bundle" pre-order for Sept. 20 release for Xbox 360
8. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition" pre-order for Nov. 8 release for PS 3
9. "Battlefield 3: Limited Edition" pre-order for Oct. 25 release for PS 3
10. "The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Bundle" (Nintendo) pre-order for Nov. 20 release for Wii; rating pending
It's a third-person cover shooter, so the camera angle rests behind your right shoulder, and you must duck behind walls so as not to be shot.
Serious players may be surprised at how easy it is to stay alive in any mode other than "hardcore."
But then, many gamers will buy "Gears 3" for the online multiplayer battles, not for the offline campaign.
I don't love the online multiplayer, but I should point out I haven't loved previous "Gear" multiplayers either, because characters run at the speed of a lumbering asthmatic.
So to be clear, if you dug previous "Gears" multiplayers, as millions have, you should like this one too. It's got well-balanced battlefields, cool weaponry and nice explosions. It's just not for me.
The only big flaw of "Gears of War 3," in the offline campaign, is the inclusion of crawlers. Dog-size spiders attack you by the dozen. Suicidal rats strapped with explosives run at you. These things are annoying and not entertaining.
What is worse and stupider: Giant rats sneak up to you, eat your weapons and sprint away.
I spent hours accumulating guns, bullets and grenades - that's a slog in itself, because we must collect ammo off the ground - and then one gun-hungry rat ran up and stole my stuff!
Do you know how angry this senseless punishment system makes me?
And generally speaking, I don't respect crawly creatures in video games. Do you remember when Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars" said he shot "womp rats" for target practice?
Notice George Lucas was smart enough not to put a scene in "Star Wars" where Luke actually shoots rats, because that would be insipid and tacky.
Aside from the logic problem with the rats of "Gears" (what carbon-based life form eats metal weaponry?), these crawlers hurt the game's momentum and my incentive to collect weapons.
"Gears" is hardly the first game to go with bugs. It's just the latest.
Dear everyone who designs video games: If you're so enamored with crawling bug villains, leave some peanut butter on your kitchen floor and keep them to yourself. They're dumb. Thanks.
("Gears of War 3" by Microsoft retails for $60 for Xbox 360 - Plays fun. Looks terrific. Easy to moderately challenging. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence and strong language. Four stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html. Twitter at VegasAnonymous.