Tag Archives: Gears of War

Dealing with Madness

Image by Flickr user: leateds (cc)

Gears of War is kind of a crazy series. It takes place on an alien planet upon which humans are fighting for their right to exist against subterranean creatures (which they may or may not have created), who are in turn fighting for their own survival against members of their kind who have been taken over by an intelligent…substance, and that’s just the setting. Almost everything about these games is over the top: from the weapons, to the set pieces, to the overly-built populace. “Subtle” really isn’t in the Gears of War vocabulary, so when it tries to have its serious moments they tend to feel discordant. It’s a feeling that’s affected the entire series and even its advertising, especially in the case of the “Mad World” trailer for the original game. Whereas the trailer depicted a somber and desperate scene with a tone of hopelessness and despair, the tone of each game came across as more bombastic than anything else. However, there’s something buried in that outward lack of subtlety; something that I believe makes that trailer, and especially the song, fit the series perfectly.

Spectacle has always been a large part of the Gears games. Everything that happens: every kill, every enemy, every action set piece, is meant to get in your face and dominate your attention. It’s all cartoon-ish to the degree that none of it really feels real, but closer inspection shows most of it to be incredibly brutal in actuality. We see heads getting blown up, humanoid creatures chainsawed in half, people crushed by debris, civilians eaten alive by swarms of bat-like creatures, comrades brutally murdered and tossed aside, and so on. It’s all stuff that’s horrible to see, yet our heroes wind up taking it all in with an air of being unfazed. Further still, they’ll even enter combat with sense of excitement or even reckless glee, tearing through the enemies as if it’s all just a game for them too. My first thought regarding it all was one of confusion. It didn’t make sense to me how these characters could take such things in stride. How could Marcus, Dom, and the rest go on like normal after witnessing their friend die so horribly? The answer turned out to be rather simple: it’s because they’ve seen it all countless times before.

By the time we meet Marcus and Co. in the first game, the war has already been going on for a great many years. Atrocities and loss have been a part of their lives for a long time now, and what’s worse is that there was no end in sight. Each “crippling blow” to the Locust Horde only made it more ferocious and only pushed humanity closer to the brink. It’s the sort of reality that one can accept only so much of, lest they risk being broken by it. So we see them shrug off the blood, shrug off the deaths, and embrace the excitement accompanies combat. This is their world, and this is the way they’ve managed to cope with most of it. We even see that attitude begin to break down in Gears of War 3. The death of Dom’s wife causes him to more or less give up, Cole starts hallucinating, and Marcus’ desire to end the war becomes a personal vendetta rather than his mission. Throughout the series we see Marcus and the gang get more and more stuff piled on until they’re finally ready to break in the finale. This is where the series’ lack of subtlety comes into play. It’s important that we, as the player, see everything that Marcus and the rest of Delta squad endure.

The situation in the Gears of War games is desperate. The humans are vastly outnumbered, and lost the advantage of technology a time to go. Which each game they’re pushed further and further into a corner until they’re finally left with nowhere to go. The games may be a bit silly in how over the top they get, but it’s all in the name of making sure that we understand how badly the war is going. Sure Marcus and his squad seem to be able to mow through the Locust with relative ease, but it’s never come without a cost, and their efforts never really seem to do much to end the war until the very end of the final game. Until that final blow against the Locust Queen, it would be fair to say that the situation was more or less hopeless and they were just fighting against the inevitable. So really, a song like “Mad World” fits rather well: everyone and everything has been worn down to the point of despair by the insanity of a seemingly endless war that they’ve been losing  since day one.

What’s your take on Gears of War? Do you see anything about it that might have been missed?

Saturday Video Round Up: July 26 – August 1

The following post was submitted by Gamer Crash. See more trailers and news at GamerCrash.com!

Hey look, it’s August! Where does the time go?

As we slowly exit the dry, barren wasteland that is July, the release schedule starts to slowly accelerate. This is certainly good news for the Round Up as we near game launches, trailers become more readily available. So, lets have a look at some of the best videos and trailers from the past week. Here’s a small taste of everything that’s waiting for you below the jump.

Super. Mario. Maker. I don’t know about you, but there’s something extremely appealing about crafting your own Mario levels being able to break some rules such as putting two Boswers on top of each other, or gating off the flag pole at the end of the level. If that’s for you, then the “nostalgia” trailer is something you’ll definitely have to watch.

Want even more insight into the mind of Rico Rodriguez, protagonist in the upcoming and totally bonkers sandbox game, Just Cause 3? Avalanche Studios has you covered this week along with some new footage that would even make Michael Bay jealous.

I’ve also got new videos for Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, LEGO Dimensions, the final DLC pack for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and so much more after the break, so come check out this week’s batch of trailers!

The full list of videos await you after the jump…

Continue reading Saturday Video Round Up: July 26 – August 1

UWG Top 10: #9- The Walking Dead

Image above from flickr user: Tim Peacock

There are zombies but wait, it’s much more interesting that all that. Image from https://www.destructoid.com

It’s a privilege and a burden to be given the task of evangelizing the Walking dead to the you, the good readers of United We Game. Unlike the other games on this list, the Walking Dead is not a trailblazer of ground breaking game play. The other, rightly vaunted, games on this list tend to stick in the memory for bringing new mechanics, control schemes and interactions with the game worlds to the fore.

The Walking Dead, however, uses a fairly basic graphic adventure game. The usual complex puzzles are stripped back to their very basics and take very little thought to complete. Graphics are low rent and the control scheme adequate at best.

This all pales into insignificance however when the true merits are considered. This is the game that finally treats the slowly ageing gaming population as the adults they’ve become. Gaming finally growing up but don’t worry there are still zombies in it.

Like all the best fiction, the zombies, become only a secondary adversary. This game isn’t about zombies, it’s about people, just like Jaws isn’t about the shark. Both these movie monsters serve only to drive the characters into situations where they can do nothing but show their true colours.

So for those don’t know, in this game you play Lee, a convicted murderer (whether or not he did or didn’t do it is left ambiguous for a good portion of the game) on his way to jail until an unexplained zombie outbreak kind of gets in the way. He happens upon a young girl called Clementine (Clem for short) and the pair quickly form a bond as he becomes her protector and she gives him a reason to survive. As mentioned above, there is a basic adventure game template but puzzles are straight forward. They are meant to keep you moving along, interested in the plot and serve as convenient time to wander your environment and talk to your ever evolving group of compatriots.

Nearly everything in this game is in place to serve as character development. How your comrades react to changing situations, the locations they’re in, the conversations they have, the looks on their faces and their reactions to your choices. Choices, indeed, this game gives you choices. Remember that claim I made earlier about this being an adult game? The moral choices you make are what defines how you play Lee but they are not the usual cartoonish moral choices that first appeared in Fable and Black and White. These are real characters and your choices mean consequences for them, suddenly the weight of the choices is real because each character has been subtly developed throughout the game.

The whole “Good” and “Evil” path was developed many years ago and has not really developed in games. It was seen as enough to let you be a devil or an angel. A few games began to iterate such as Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Introducing grey areas to your choices or making you really think about the outcomes of your decision. Too many games basically rely on there being two separate play throughs, right up to the modern day, a good one and a bad one. You do the good one because you’re a nice person and then do the evil one to see the difference.

The Walking Dead gives you choices but there is no right choice, no wrong choice. There’s just a choice, your choice. Sometimes it’s completely instinctual. Each choice has a timer, you can’t sit and ponder. Let me give you an example, in the first episode (the game is split into five episodes) you have to decide which of two characters to save. You’ve spent perhaps twenty minutes in total with these people, you have but a few minutes of conversation with each of them to base your decision on. There is no right choice. You’ll question your decision for the rest of the game. Therefore justifying the need for the dilemma to be there in the first place.  There’s no point to having a choice if you decided at the start which of two options you are going to select each time.

This interaction between character and player agency is the true genius of the game. In reality, there is no branching path, your choices don’t effect the final outcome of the story but that doesn’t matter because this is your story. You are reacting to these characters because of how you feel about them.

This is why I champion this game, it may not be the genre defining entry that some other titles on this list are but it pushes forward the template for the whole medium. Now, characters can be more than electric ninjas and busty maidens and they can mean something real to us because they are flawed but striving for the best world they can. Players can make a choice that felt truly important. Conversations between characters can be for more than just plot development.

All this and I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic voice acting and brilliant plot. They are all part of the package. Due to the episodic nature of the game, certain sections are stronger than others but each is an important development to the harrowing conclusion. Oh, and that conclusion. The less said for the uninitiated the better. Just experience it. If you haven’t played it then grab a copy and spend an evening with some complex, annoying, strong, terrified and brilliant people.