Gears of War: The heroes that um… Gotham City deserves?
Look, I play Gears of War. It happens.
Chainsawing dudes in the face is pretty fun as it turns out, also graphic curb stomping and shooting with the bullets. You know, from the guns? Guns with chainsaws?
Anyway, I made the mistake of wandering around the internet and I found this interesting little blog called LazyGamer. It’s a cool Blog site a lot like mine except people read it. They specialize in video game stuff.
LG made the (repeated) mistake of rattling Cliffy B’s cage by writing headlines for blog posts and seeing LG chirp back with a deliciously sarcastic response about how there are apparently WORDS after headlines in articles, which are themselves positively choked with the fucking things, and in those words there is greater clarity than the headline can provide… it usually being a fragment or incomplete sentence itself.
Maybe it’s the heavy depression prompting me to find bizarre alternative entertainment or maybe I’m just irked beyond rationality with the hubris of the games industry. Or maybe someone just decided to say something INCREDIBLY stupid and I can’t fight the compulsion to render some kind of reaction to prove my existence. Whatever.
Let’s all share a laugh at the expense of a big name in games…
After the cut!
While LazyGamer’s responses to the accusation were exquisite, it my was rummaging through the old posts and seeing Cliff Bleszinski’s notion of his game’s direction that set me off into a fit of laughter so profound that it made me fall out of my chair and sent rolling on the floor:
If I were to pass Gears off to another studio, and they came back with a pitch of having a double-edged chainsaw, and the characters are more buff, and now you can pull off someone’s head and shit down their neck, and they had a character that makes Cole look tame… I would look at them and say no, you’re going in the exact wrong direction. Gears is always some of that, but I would want to further evolve it in more of a Christopher Nolan way.
(Source: Lazy Gamer)
Why is this relevant now? Well, mayyyybe I overthought this, but because the notion alone is hilarious and there is another Christopher Nolan Batman film coming out soon and it’s only fair to compare the thought provoking works of a film director with the drug-addled chainsaw orgies of Bleszinski while the iron is hot and the third entry for Gears is already out so why not lay some cards out on the table?
Are the Gears really the heroes that Gotham deserves?
Not even a little.
Every time I play Gears of War, which I have frequently as my gamerscore betrays, I often have to do an eyeroll or twenty during the campaign because the whole premise is so ludicrously bonkers and silly that I’m trying not to laugh into my microphone. The first game was superlative, but still left a lot of massive questions never answered in the entirety of the game trilogy and Gears isn’t a complicated story to tell like Mass Effect where detail matters (except in endings apparently). Narrative for the Gears is delivered almost entirely by quips and radio communications before ANOTHER bloodbath happens then the boys have another conversation on their way to the next bloodbath, each small chat revealing less about their world than we’d prefer.
Again, not to say that I don’t like Gears, but if comically misproportioned gorilla-men of the future wielding guns that are also chainsaws don’t inspire a chuckle or two then you’re not paying attention or you’re stoned.
Gears as a story is so fucking broken that I chuckle a bit just thinking about the hot mess they buried themselves in and the very notion of trying to make a superficial game about chainsawing Gorilla Bug monsters into a “cerebral” title is just funnier than hell. It’s like the giant singing mound of shit (The Mighty Poo) from Conker’s Bad Fur day trying to teach you an important life lesson with a twist as you pelt him with sweet corn and toilet paper.
It’s like a monkey that fell out of the tree after sniffing his ass scratching hand writing down the cure for cancer… in shit. Trying to attach depth to something with the depth of a napkin is just going to stack napkins.
It’s a great testimony to their own game’s ability to surprise since so little of the story or characters are really developed beyond what little you hear them say between chainsaw orgies or graphic set pieces like the insides of A GIANT… WORM?!?
It’s like gorilla-men in a reality show about chainsawing monsters where we just hear their reactions to things and their reactions control our attention and redirect it the way the director wants us to view their plight… again, between gore-filled orgies of violence, but really to take in the tragic plight of people who did… something? Somehow? To mole-lizard-bug people? And Marcus’ Dad did… stuff?
It’s hard to appear mysterious when all the vague allusions to already mysterious shit are themselves so mysterious characters don’t even know how to phrase it in the sentences keep coming up in awkward conversation after awkward conversation. The second game was riddled with these rampant question marks and then the third game just blew that out of proportion. BIGGER THAN A GIANT WORM!!!
Gears comprises the embodiment of action movie perfection, shit doesn’t HAVE to make sense to make you NEED to chainsaw monsters in half. Each title is usually defined by only a few sparse set pieces and violent events. Dom’s reunion with his wife? Violent to arrive there, violent AT the event and the sea of blood that Dom demands following the sad reunion is just blood icing on the violence cake.
That’s not counting all the murder sprees the Gears endure while between and during missions that Dom mentions his missing wife. I’m not saying this is a bad thing; this is possibly the most essential element of game design that a lot of guys seem to be forgetting: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID! Gears does this impeccably at every turn which is more of a strength for its lasting appeal and the thought that goes into the Gears’ snappy comments makes for a satisfying buddy-film tack-on.
It’s obvious that Action Movie tropes are even more effective in video games because you’re in the thick of it and all the cheesy silliness of what’s happen is somehow justified, if not entirely necessary making you feel all this fictional weight even though there isn’t a fucking ounce of decent writing behind it. If you give in to the sea of shiny distractions in Gears of War then your poor mind will be ill-equipped to defend you against the hordes of stupid things, idiotic events, missing details that lead directly into plotholes and the “‘cuz I say so!” style of writing, something ironic for a Developer called “Epic” Games. Has it effected sales yet? Hell no! So… why fix what ain’t broke?
Just as story is hugely important to Bioware or Bethesda, the enduring experience of Gears is similar to Halo in creating tense firefights basted in blood-soaked brutality tying together fun and entertaining set pieces. Story was always a minor means to an end for Gears and not an end in itself. FUCK STORY, there’s still guys connected to their lower halves! To make Gears a game that provokes thought means the game has to change almost entirely in both an artistic and informative sense, as well as potentially providing a completely different means of gameplay interaction. That might really throw them off their game…
It doesn’t have to be Gears of War: The RPG, but if they let some writers sit down to retcon the living shit out the games to make a universe that lives and breathes then I thing we’re stepping out of the area where Gears holds its own: In the land of people who don’t give two fucks about why they’re chainsawing through people. Why fuck with what works to this day??? For chest-high-wall shooting, Gears is the gold standard in the Industry, and as far as epic set piece battles go Gears is often one to top (though it shined its brightest… and goriest in GoW2), but it stands so well on its own that I can’t find it in my heart to criticize the series. At least not for its engrossing gameplay.
Its creators are a different story, but the games GORETASTIC EVENTS themselves are truly breathtaking and trying to smarten up the second strongest Brand on the Xbox isn’t something I’d recommend. Mr. B, just leave it be. We’re not playing Gears of War to gain a better understanding of Animal Farm, we want a mindless ride profuse with carnage and the sparks from our chainsaw bayonets light our seemingly eternal dark hour and guides us into the next awaiting torso.
(The “Mad World” trailer for the first game blew my socks off and made me curious as hell about what the hell was going on. Sadly, I own and have completed all three games. Still only a vague idea as to what the hell is happening other than the gopher problems on their planet being worse than most!)
The sentiment to make the game more profound is a GREAT idea… for a different series. I love Gears for being a ridiculous as it is, starting a chainsaw to drown out the somber musical advertising to paint the franchise in a tragic light. The ads are effective, but the product is something that I hope never changes