Retrospective: The Gears Of War Trilogy

By @peagle05 

Back in 2006, Epic Games released a highly anticipated shooter called Gears of War. This third-person, cover based shooter would go on to become one of the most popular and beloved franchises of its console generation.

The first game, Gears of War was officially introduced to the world through what I consider to be one of the greatest trailers for a video game ever. Titled ''Madworld'', it would set the tone for the series now famous bleak and desolate environment where a race of lizard like creatures known as the Locust Horde would take over the Planet Sera in a fight with the game's military faction the COG and their Gears. Set 14 years after what the game universe dubbed ''E-Day'' (short for Emergence Day), it placed you into the shoes of Marcus Fenix, a grizzled war veteran placed in a prison for disobeying orders. Over the course of the game, you are introduced to characters like Marcus' best friend Dominic Santiago, and their squadmates, Damon Baird and of course the boisterous but mind numbingly awesome Augustus "Cole Train" Cole. The game takes you through various locations as the Gears fight to take back their planet. The gameplay from the moment the game began was solid, the shooting felt fluid and the GAWD the violence. Epic Games should be commended for taking a chainsaw and putting it on the end of an assault rifle, otherwise known as the game's most popular weapon, the Lancer (depending on who you ask, they may say the Gnasher Shotgun but screw them). One of the best aspects of these games was the story, the games were very well written at least in the area of story itself. Some of the dialogue was cheesy but its a bunch of meatheads shooting things, what can you expect? The two biggest story threads outside of the main struggle was Marcus' unraveling of his father's work and the big emotional thread of the series, the search for Dominic's wife, Maria.

In Gears of War 2, the fight against the Locust intensifies as the COG decide to take the fight directly to the Locust Horde. Over the course of the game, they fight deeper into the Locust lair known as The Hollow. It is here that the game reaches its emotional climax and presents one of the most memorable scenes in any game as Dom finds his wife, seemingly in good health. As he holds her, Marcus gets Dom's attention and shows him that all is not as well as it seems. The torture she endured has placed her in a near comatose state. Dom, faced with the reality of the situation, ameks the decsion to put her out of her misery (You can be the toughest dude on the planet, if that scene didn't get to you on the first playthrough, you're a damn liar). At the end of the game, you discover that Marcus' father is still alive, setting us up for the inevitable sequel. Epic Games really upped the ante in terms of storytelling and moments like the scene with Dom really helped drive the characters closer together.

The final game of the inital trilogy, Gears of War 3, places us at the tail end of the war against the Locust. The COG are getting desperate and now they're fighting a new type of Locust called Lambent. These glowing, almost radioactive versions of Locust are far more dangerous and they explode when killed. It is in this game that when the fight reaches it's most desperate point, that Dom, dejected after the loss of his wife, sacrifices himself to allow Marcus and the others to complete their objective. Epic Games using the ''Madworld'' song in this scene just drove this moment home.

As you may have noticed, I haven't really spent much time talking gameplay or anything like that and that's on purpose for two reasons, for one, if you haven't played the series yet, I suggest you find a way to do so. But the second and most important reason is this: I truly believe when it comes to storytelling and emotional connection, the Gears of War franchise was beyond underrated and it should be the most celebrated aspect of this game. In a time when shooters tend to be very straightforward, point A to point B affairs, this series took that and added a layer of depth to it that made the firefights feel like they had weight and consequences to them. I look forward to playing the fourth installment when it releases on the Xbox One in 2016.



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