Thursday, September 29, 2011

No Glory for Gears

My latest PopMatters article is now live: No Glory for Gears

While the main article contains major spoilers for Gears of War 3, I'll avoid any spoilers here.
In a medium absolutely saturated with sequels and spinoffs, finales and last installments in a franchise become more significant. Can we appreciate Gears of War 3 as much if it did not some how comment on its own history, success, and failures? As I see it, Epic had a huge responsibility with this game, a capstone to a astonishingly successful, controversial, and influential franchise. This weighty burden must have come across in the game's narrative.

As is clear in the article, Gears 3 surpasses its predecessors in storytelling by a wide margin. That being said, it is still Gears, and thinks are not perfect. There are plot holes you can drive a Brumak through, and some story arcs are so shockingly convenient and unexplained, you might begin to think they wrote this script overnight. In some ways, these contrivances actually work quite nicely. Marcus and the gang are gears after all, they do respond only to the circumstance presented and seldom bother to think things over for more than a few seconds. At several points, Baird question significant plot details and then is largely ignored. The task at hand is always paramount: kill as many grubs as you can.

The killing, ie the gameplay, is as fun as ever. While I may save most of my assessment of the game for a future post, suffice it so say Epic upholds many of the feature that made the series fantastic. While I think the level design takes a step down from Gears 2, they are various enough so as to largely avoid tedium. The new weapons are not particularly interesting either, but when you have the trusty chain-saw gun, one of the weapons in any game, who can complain?

I may already be growing nostalgic for Gears, now that the series has come to an end. The story of the cogs, while not always well told, has fit so comfortably into its aesthetic environment, that its hard to call even the annoying segmens anything but a success. With this conclusion in particular, Epic has managed find a particular type of war story to match the brutality and tone of the series.

I am certain many of you have already played Gears 3. Let me know what you thought of the story in the comments section. (And be sure to mark your comments with a spoiler warning if necessary.)


  1. Noticed how they set the tone for basically the entire game, when presenting the "Gears of War 3" logo after the Prologue?

    In Gears 2 you had the military music and army tanks rolling into battle and they basically made you think "fuck yeah, let's do this!".

    In Gears 3 it's just Marcus sitting on his bed feeling like shit and the logo appears rather small in the bottom left corner of the screen. It's like they're saying "guys here's Gears 3 but things are kinda bad. And also Dom's growing radishes now..."

  2. @ Christian

    I didn't, nice catch. You're absolutely right. On a side note, did you find it funny that Dom said he was growing radishes, but the only plants he had in his room were flowers?

  3. Well, Dom's actually just like "If we don't grow it, we don't eat it".

    So we don't exactly get a lot of insight in the food pyramid of the Gears Universe.

    I mean you don't know what type of edible crazyness the flora of Sera has to offer...

  4. If the deck is any indication, the answer is pumpkins, lots and lots of pumpkins.