Gears of War 3 beta maps revealed

Facebook vote to determine map fate.

At a hands-on event in San Francisco yesterday Epic Games revealed and detailed the maps you'll be playing in the Gears of War 3 beta, set to launch this spring.

Checkout is, according to Eurogamer's man in San Fran Christian Donlan, is "cruel, claustrophobic, and daringly small: a tight collection of aisles and corridors surrounded by ruptured shelving and tills, and lit by shafts of light pouring in from the glass ceiling."

Thrashball is "a bit bigger, and not quite as open-plan as the whole sports stadium gig suggests". "Rising up out of battered team locker rooms, you'll find yourself on a pitch criss-crossed with plenty of low cover, while a lopsided Jumbotron hangs overhead."

The multiplayer beta will contain two further maps, but Epic is yet to decide which ones they'll be. It's whittled the number down to four and left it open for a public vote on the game's Facebook page.

The vote, which kicks off today, closes on Monday. Hurry!

The four to choose from are Mercy, "a large open-air map that should remind veterans of a heavily-tweaked and re-themed Gridlock"; Old Town, "a weird medieval village set-up filled with chickens and wooden barrels to hunker down behind"; Overpass, a "nicely balanced map with a fancy - and largely cosmetic - gimmick that sees it flooding and falling apart as the battle progresses"; and Trenches, which "throws players out into the dusty Locust badlands in a kind of mining-settlement-meets-construction-site".

The beta also brings with it three of Gears of War 3's six match types. In the new Team Deathmatch, both sides gets 15 respawns to work through each round, after which the game reverts to the classic last man standing set-up. King of the Hill tweaks Annex from Gears 2 so that you can control areas without having to then stay within the glowing radius. And Capture the Leader, a new CTF re-imagining which tasks you with tracking down the enemy side's captain and holding them as a meat-shield for a set amount of time.

The beta also includes unlockables, awarded for experience gain. Two items, Cole in his Thrashball outfit and a golden Retro Lancer, can only be unlocked in the full-game by first collecting them in the beta.

Epic and Microsoft are yet to pin a release date for the beta. You can get a headstart, though, with the Epic Edition of Epic's over-the-top first-person shooter Bulletstorm, out in the UK at midnight.

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