What’s the Story?
In Gears 1, it was some years after E-Day, the day when monsters that had been living beneath the surface of the world (the Locust) emerged and started war with the humans. At the start, Marcus Fenix [sic] was in prison for disobeying orders and trying to save his father’s life. He failed, his father died, and he was put in prison. By the end, he and his team had delivered a bomb into the Locust tunnels, hopefully killing them all.
In Gears 2, the Locust have begun sinking entire cities. The humans are launching a desperate, all-out war. By the end, it is revealed that the Locust are at war with the Lambent Locust. That is, Locust who glow white and explode when they die. Marcus and friends manage to flood the underground tunnels, hopefully killing all the Locust and all the Lambent. In doing so, they sacrifice the last human city on the planet.
In Gears 3, two years have passed. Humanity exists only in small camps of survivors spread across the globe. Straggling forces of Locust and Lambent still live on the surface, but there aren’t many. But then, there aren’t many humans either, and most of them live on a boat.
Oh yeah, and apparently Marcus’s dad isn’t dead. He’s alive.
What’s the Problem?
It’s Almost the Same as Gears 2
Gears 2 was almost Gears 1. They made some improvements, but not a whole lot. Between Gears 2 and 3 there’s been even less. A couple of new weapons, maybe a graphics upgrade (it’s hard to tell, though, so… not much of an upgrade, I guess), and some new varieties of enemy.
Introducing the Floo—the Lambent!
It seems to me that the Lambent are trying very hard to become the Flood from Halo. They’re a race with a single mind (I think; I’m hazy because they tend to gloss over what’s actually happening in the story so they can focus on how macho Marcus and his men are) and this game they introduce polyps. Which are basically those Pop-’ems (Infection Forms) from Halo. They’re small, hard to hit, do a bit of damage, and die while they’re at it. All the other Lambent are mutated forms of the Locust. Just like the Flood are mutated forms of humans and Covenant in Halo. They’ve even grown extra tentacles.
And, yes, the Flood weren’t a wholly original idea either. They’re basically space-zombies. But the point is, Gears of War was one thing, and now they seem to be copying the enemies that pretty much everyone hated of another Xbox shooter.
I should probably explain that story doesn’t seem to be a driving force in these games. “Go there, shoot that” is the driving force. Nonetheless, I like stories, so I’ma have a bitch about this one.
What I expected:
You see, in Gears, the Locust look a whole lot like the male humans. Like, suspiciously so. As in, you’d think they were one branch across on the family tree. In Gears 1 and 2, Marcus’s dad is set up very clearly as being dead. So we know he isn’t. In the second game, the queen of the Locust – Myrrah (who looks suspiciously human for the queen of a race of monsters) – talks to Marcus in tones a mother might use to a naughty infant. Add to that the fact that we know the emulsion (it’s a glowing gel that’s all over the planet) is what’s mutating Locust into Lambent and I concluded…
That the emulsion had, shortly before E-Day, mutated some humans into Locust. Specifically, Marcus’s mother (as she’s never mentioned otherwise) mutated into a Locust (Queen Myrrah) and from her somehow spawned this army. Marcus didn’t know. His dad did. Dad faked death, went to live with mumsie under the earth. For whatever reason, they attacked humanity.
It accounted for Marcus’s dad’s disappearance, for where the Locust came from (and why no one ever knew they existed until E-Day) and why they look so very similar to the humans.
What Actually Happened:
The Locust had been on the planet longer than humans. They share no common genetic heritage. The humans just didn’t spot that entire race of warriors living just under their feet. I guess they should have done some scans or something.
Myrrah is, as far as I can tell, just a Locust Queen. No explanation is given for why she looks and sounds like a human when all other Locust speak in guttural, barely-coherent tones (also, why do they speak English at all?) or why she speaks to Marcus as if he’d been merely naughty when he was actually murdering all of her species and ruining her plans for survival.
The Lambent is apparently a microscopic organism. The Locust ran away from it and up to the surface on E-Day (yep. The monsters that live under your planet are, in fact, just running away coz they’re all scawed… Terrifying. Way to ruin any threat your villains had).
Also, Marcus’s dad was being held hostage in a top-secret research facility to work out a way to destroy the Lambent organism. Because, you know, it’s simple to destroy microscopic organisms on a planet-wide scale. That’s why we haven’t had to worry about bacteria since 1948! Because we just wiped them all out! Simple! And not at all the laziest one-hit-kills Deus Ex Machina ending I’ve ever encountered.
This research facility where Marcus’s dad is being held prisoner is, in fact, basically a five-star luxury resort the president evacuated all the top minds to before the war. He then sealed it.
With a machine that creates a maelstrom/hurricane/cyclone that has, at its epicentre, the island with the luxury prison. While the war is being fought (and lost) with bare-basics technology guns, the president diverts that many funds to this safe-haven?
Also, if they have the technology to create this kind of maelstrom, certainly there’d be evidence of other cool-technology floating around the place. Why are the combatants (on both sides) all but throwing rocks at one another?
Get to the Point
It also seems like most of the game is stuff that happens to Marcus on the way to meeting his father. But we already know about his father, so there’s no big twist or reveal or anything. A better idea would have been to get them to his father in Act III instead of Act V and then have some big, war-changing revelation that altered the course and feel of the game.
Instead, it feels like we spend the whole game travelling to get somewhere and when we do nobody bothers to explain what’s happening. We just receive our magical Deus Ex Machina baddie-killing bomb and set it off.
What’s the Solution?
It’s their universe; they can go with it where they please. But it felt like it was leading somewhere different to where it ended up, which was what disappointed me. The big reveal wasn’t the relationships between any of the characters, but just that the dad was alive. Well, duh.
The shooting is as solid as ever. The Lambent aren’t as much fun as the Locust, but they seem to realise this and pretty much stop using them after the first Act.