Impressions: Gears of War 3

[No links for this week, unfortunately. Instead it’s just Gears of War 3. Note: links include spoilers.]

Gears of War 3 is a game that I don’t want to think about too hard, I just want to enjoy playing it.  I have mixed feelings about the series, though this is the first time I’ve sat down and played a Gears game from start to finish.  On the one hand I enjoy it as what is roughly this generation’s Contra.  On the other hand, I’m often put off by the ludicrous narrative that keeps getting in the way.

But Peter, Gears of War is a silly game full of michelin men wearing armor chainsawing other michelin men that look even more like monsters.  But it’s not.  The game’s heroes are by and large detestable human beings whom the audience is expected to be sympathetic toward.  And the story is told with a straight face.  It’s not like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry where the over-the-top quality of the story is blended with camp or irony.  Topics like euthanasia and genocide are thrown in lightly and handled with the same degree of tact as Cole’s football career.

It’s difficult to overlook, especially when the game goes out of it’s way to have other characters highlight these issues, only to have Marcus make a point of shouting down or attacking whoever dares to reflect on the situation.  For Gears, controversial issues are used as emotional gimmicks and they serve to be the game’s own buzz kill.  And with the narrative primarily focusing on, as put by Yahtzee, “a man with the mental age of 12 who thinks only his own grief matters” the story is just a waste of the player’s time and pretty tasteless to boot.  I still enjoyed the game from time to time.  Running around with the lancer/chainsaw bayonet is always fun.  I only wish it was focused on things like that rather than try to weave a story around identifying with some terrible people.

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