Take a trip back with me back to 2006, the Xbox 360 is still a new system, finding it’s legs, if you will. One of the titles to emerge is Gears of War, a 3rd person shooter that changed some of the shooter rules, squad based while still single player, and it introduced a cover system. This was new for shooters, and really added a new dynamic to the genre. Some of the environment was also destructible, so camping behind your cover isn’t always possible. There were so many memorable characters, heroes and villains, that this game has always had a special place in my heart and my gaming library.
Marcus Fenix, badass personified, gravelly voice, tougher than leather, and carries a machine gun with a chainsaw bayonet. Dominic Santiago, Marcus’ best friend, brother, partner. The epitome of a bromance during wear time, there’s no one you’d rather have at your back when the fan is getting dirty. Damon Baird, the man who puts the smart in smartass. Can fix damn near anything, and tell you about it the entire time. Augustus Cole “Train,” a famous Thrashball superstar from before E-Day.
“What is E-Day?” That’s Emergence Day, the day the entire world changed. That’s the day the Locust Horde revealed themselves to the people of the planet Sera. After the end of the Pendulum Wars, the Colition of Ordered Governments and Union of Independent Republics joined together for a few years of peace (the Cog won by using a weapon of mass destruction, the Hammer of Dawn, which was stolen from the U.I.R. No one was immune from the hammer strike, not even C.O.G. civilians). The world was just recovering from the Pendulum Wars and then they get hit by an even more dangerous threat, one that will only stop at the total extinction of the Seran race. World peace is a great concept, and nothing brings people together quite like a common threat that wants to wipe you out, regardless of where you come from.
Gears 1 starts in the Slab, a max security prison where Marcus Fenix has been locked up for insubordination, and abandoning his post. He left his post during a highly contested fight in order to try to save his father. Dominic comes to get him out, and this is where your tutorial begins. You and Dom head out and fight a few Locust along the way. You eventually meet with Colonel Hoffman, the man who court martialed Marcus and sent him to the Slab. Marcus and Dom become a part of Delta Squad and follow Lt. Kim. During their mission, Kim is murdered by General Raam, leader of the Locust forces. After Kim’s death, Marcus is promoted to Sergeant, and Delta proceeds with their mission. Fast forward to the final battle with Raam on a train carrying a lightmass bomb. We think we’ve won and brought peace to Sera… Nope.
Bring on Gears of War 2! The story gets fleshed out way more this time around. You learn about Dom’s search for his wife Maria, and you get an idea about Marcus and Anya’s romance. Part 2 brought in even more enemies (Lambent who get along with the horde even worse than humans, but who hate us just as much), and a deeper threat. Now, the horde is trying to sink Jacinto. Mankind’s last safe zone. Jacinto is situated right on top of a solid bedrock foundation that the horde can’t burrow through. So instead of burrowing through, they decide to sink it. We’re now trying to bring the fight to the horde underground, and this does not go well. We learn how badly the horde tortures their hostages, from losing Tai, to finally finding Maria (she’s catatonic, and that was a blessing as he had to put her out of her misery). This destroys Dom emotionally, and the repercussions follow us all the way through to part 3. We eventually fight off the horde; but we end up sinking Jacinto ourselves in the process using the Hammer of Damn to flood the tunnels underground to try and drown the horde once and for all. Stay till the end of the credits!
If you read the novels set in the Gears world (by Karen Traviss) you learn a lot more about different characters, and their motivations, and experiences. You learn about Dom’s brother, more about Marcus’ dad Adam Fenix (himself a war hero), and even Anya’s past with her mother. These books are required reading to make your way through the games. They really teach you about the world, and especially between 2 and 3, without them, you lose out on so many details.
Speaking of Part 3, we have been at sea for quite some time, and now we’re trying to find land to restart civilization. Many battles with Pirates, and a few Locust holdouts, even some former U.I.R. soldiers, we are faced with an ever growing threat in the Lambent (explosive bad guys). We also try to locate the hidden island that Prescott has so many VIPs hidden on. Prescott is the leader of the C.O.G., and a scumbag besides. We learn Marcus’s dad is not only alive, and on the island, he’s known about and been working with the Locust for years. Now, he’s actually been working toward peace, but Queen Myrrah doesn’t care. She wants the world, but has left Marcus alone as part of her deal with Adam.
Now, Gears 3 really pulled out all the stops with the sub level. That and the varying environments really give you an idea of the scale of Sera, and the destruction it has suffered. We finally make it to the island, and Adam has been working on a “cure/nuclear option” for the Horde and Lambent. In the end, after the fight with Myrrah and her forces, the cure is used which kills all Locust and Lambent, problem is, it also kills Adam, as he had to test it on someone. He saved the world; but lost his life. Adam Fenix wasn’t even the biggest loss. Dom sacrificed himself to save everyone in Delta. He was so heartbroken over the loss of Maria, he couldn’t get over it.
Gears of War Judgement was actually a prequel that lead into Gears 1. This game starred Baird and Cole as members of Kilo squad. This installment follows them as they fight their way through some of the earlier battles and their adventure leading up to meeting with Marcus and Dom and making up the core of Delta Squad. It’s an inferior chapter; but worth a play.
Finally, after the Locust have been defeated, and politics has taken over Sera, Gear of War 4 opens up. Years after the Locust war, Marcus is long retired, a hero of the Locust war. He and Anya settled down and had a son, JD. Gears 4 follows JD and his friends on a mission to save the mother of one of the main characters (JDs girlfriend) and Marcus ends up coming along for the ride. We find out Anya has since passed, and Marcus becomes a hermit. Toward the end, Baird and Cole come along as the cavalry to finish this installment, and let me tell you this, ending on a cliffhanger is some BS.
Now, obviously, I could go on and on, but you have to have some surprises. Tell us how you feel about the Gears series.
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