Gears of War 3: Fenix Rising DLC

9.5 Overall Score

Levels are beautifully designed, adds more customization options

Pack feels like it was built for more hardcore players

Written by on January 31, 2012 in [, , , , ]

Epic Games has been a powerhouse lately with their new downloadable content and they aren’t stopping yet. Fenix Rising is the latest DLC pack released that brings more to your Gears of War 3 experience. Whereas the previous packs highlighted Horde and campaign mode, Fenix Rising brings to the table five new maps, in addition to new player skins and a new spin on leveling up. The new maps include Academy, Anvil, Depths, Escalation, and The Slab, all of which are available to play in Versus, Horde, and Beast mode.


Academy is a very open map, giving players who love to camp behind barriers plenty of opportunities. Set at the Oracle Academy, and unlike a lot of the darker and more war torn maps, Academy offers a serene setting and gives players plenty of memorable places on the map in which you can call out coordinates (fountain, hotel lobby, stone columns). Unfortunately, the cover on Academy is sparse, so it’s best if you kept your head down and stuck to the flanking routes instead of running out in the open. Academy is perfect for medium ranged combat and great for a quick game of Team Deathmatch.


Anvil is another brightly lit outdoor level. There are paths circling around the outer part of the map, with the middle being a major conflict point. If you value your life, don’t go into the middle structure unaided. In fact, going into the middle not only may get you killed, but also can make you disoriented as to which route leads out of the building. Barracks and factory buildings provide lots of running room as well along with barriers and corners. Anvil is symmetrical and doesn’t really offer an advantage to sticking one side of the map versus the other. This map is great for short and medium range weaponry.


Depths is my favorite map within the pack and the work put into this level is shown by how beautiful it looks. Set in the COG’s island sanctuary, Azura, players fight to the death in an aquatic hotel. You can actually see fish swimming by in the aquarium! The layout is rectangular with plenty of halls and routes to get from side to side. There is a raised platform near the middle of the map that overlooks the area, but be cautious when using that area as your shelter. During my playtime I found that although this gives you a height advantage, there are plenty of ways to take down enemies who are hiding out up there, especially with grenades. The feel of the underwater map is authentic and the power weapons are strategically placed on opposite sides of the map to ensure fairness. Depths is perfect for short to mid-range weapons and offers plenty of cover when in a pinch.


If you’ve played Gears of War before, then you’ve probably played on the Escalation map already. Escalation takes place outside of Fenix mansion and is tall and narrow. The spawns are located at the top of the hill and at the bottom. Stairs are the only means of getting up or down the map. Fountains and brick walls provide strategic barriers in this brutal map. While it may seem like the people at the bottom of the map would have a disadvantage, the folks who spawn at the bottom of the map have two sniper rifles waiting for them within feet of their spawn area, while the folks at the top only have pistols. You may have a nice view of the battlefield from up top, but you need to keep your head down and stick to cover, otherwise you will get a sniper round to the face. When playing a standard deathmatch game this map can be annoying as enemies spawn behind you no matter what side you originally spawned from. Nothing is more annoying than sniping people from the bottom only to have another player spawn below you and blast you to gibs. Escalation is great for all types of weapons, especially long range.

The Slab

Out of all the new levels, this one gives me the most nightmares. The Slab reminds me of an abandoned meat factory you would see in a bad slasher flick. The Slab takes place in a dank cement prison, the same prison that Marcus was left to rot in at the beginning of the first Gears of War . Don’t expect to see anything colorful and uplifting on this level because aside from the greys and blacks of the walls, blood red is the only accent color in this sadistic level. Etched and sprayed onto the walls are threats and warnings that also add to the creepy factor. The hallways are narrow and the ceilings seem to be lower than normal. If you’re claustrophobic this level isn’t for you. The Slab is perfect for short range weapons and any type of deathmatch.

The Fenix Rising DLC for Gears of War 3 does more than just bring you new multiplayer levels. In addition to these five maps you also receive new player skins allowing you to play as Thrashball Cole, Savage Marauder, Recruit Clayton, or a Savage Kantus. The DLC also gives players a new “Re-up” feature that allows veteran players already at Level 100 to reset their experience without affecting their TrueSkill matchmaking data. Think of it like Prestige mode in Call of Duty. Re-upped players can unlock one of three new weapon skins for each time they reach Level 100. If you’ve already reached Level 100 my hat goes off to you. I have a hard enough time killing computer players. This option is obviously for the more hardcore Gears players.

Another welcome addition is the new Stay Frosty playlists. This new mode limits your default weapon selections to the Hammerburst and Snub Pistol. The catch though is that both of these weapons have high damage settings which result in much faster kills. This can be annoying at times when you are being sniped long range by a pistol. I expected that this playlist would only facilitate Fenix Rising maps, but instead incorporates all maps within the game. Stay Frosty isn’t a playlist that I will visit too often, but is a fun twist on matchmaking.

Overall, the Fenix Rising DLC is a must-have for anyone who plays Gears. The bundle of five maps, skins, and new leveling options makes this pack worth the 800 Microsoft points, or free for Season Pass holders.

A copy of Fenix Rising was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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