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Gears of War - A brief "bro" game analysis(spoilers)

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This is going to be spoiler heavy. I'm warning here because it would be kind of silly to put the whole thread in a spoiler tag







So with GoW4 having just come out and me probably not gonna be able to play it for a long time since xbone I decided to go back and play the first 3 and there's a lot this game does that I'm still surprised about. I don't think many people are gonna argue that Gears of War isn't a "Bro" game. It's violence heavy, plenty of gore porn, and features impossibly buffed out men with big armor and big guns with hollywood badass personalities, but the game doesn't make that it's only aspect. In fact, for a bro game this series has had 2 of the most emotionally draining scenes I've seen in a game, and both of them involve the supporting, arguably second main character in the game, Dom.


In the second game, you're essentially helping Dom look for his wife, Maria. A good portion of the first half of the game revolves around chasing down leads to where the locusts have taken her. Eventually you do find her, but the outcome is far from happy. In fact, when I got to this scene, it practically destroyed me and I would have to skip it on later playthroughs because it hit me that hard.






I was afraid the outcome wasn't going to be happy given the series history up to that point but geez.


Then in the third game, they do something I never thought they would do. In the most effectively executed killing of a character ever, they killed Dom. And it was as every bit upsetting to me as a character death should be.






I still cite this as an excellent example of how to deal with killing a character, because instead of doing what most games do and kill a character that got very little screen time and try to spin it as a tragedy, they take a character that they spent three games building up, who is now just as important and easily as much a main character as the one you control, and then kill them off and let the attachment the player has formed to that character fuel the effect. The first time I went through that scene I started picking up on the context clues and was repeatedly saying things like "No. No no no you can't kill him. He's too vital." "NO. They aren't gonna do it." "They're just teasing." up until the explosion and I just sat there in stunned silence. There have been very few instances where a game has made me this upset at a characters death.


I still feel this game is a great example of how just because your game is full of testosterone, guns and explosions, doesn't mean you don't need to put in a well written world with well written characters. Use those macho anatomical monstrosities to toy with your audiences emotions.


Also let's not forget the Carmine incident in GoW3. The Carmine family has been a series staple of being the ones that never survive, one of them literally being killed off every game. For the third game they left it to the fans to decide if Carmine got to live or die and in one of those humanity faith restoring moments, they voted for him to live. Of course, not after teasing his death multiple times to have him survive at the end.






And there you go. Honestly idk why I felt the need to make this topic but it's something I wanted to talk about for a while.

Forum Rule #1: "Try not to be a jerk."

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I've never played any of the Gears of War games, but your post piqued my interest. I used to think the standard of storytelling in games was generally rather low and that, in all honesty, narrative strength was a secondary consideration in most examples of the medium. But outside of "story-driven" games (which is certainly no guarantee of great writing) the more maligned and dismissed variety of "bro" titles the thread infers to can sometimes surprise you. I'm reminded of Jim Sterling's praise lavished on the 2016 iteration of Doom Guy, for giving him a meaningful and utterly unpretentious personality despite his mute anonymity and largely through simplistic gestures articulated via the characters hands. It's the same reason many of us liked Dante from Devil May Cry despite his corny, sub-anime, macho smugness - there's a hard-to-define charisma therein that other characters just like him couldn't get away with.


This Don character seems like a slightly less flamboyant individual than Dante (basing my observations solely on the death scene video you supplied) but it is curious that he engendered no mean amount of affection in you - certainly enough to warrant this topic! I wonder if this no-nonsense lowest-common-denominator appeal is similar to the phenomena of the charismatic villain? Gothic literary nerds like me enjoy the introspective evil of Comte de Lautréamont's ghoulish Maldoror, or fans of 20th century comedy find knowing underachievers like Jaroslav Hašek's titular "good soldier" Švejk endlessly charming. Are we seeing something similarly rarefied with the straight-laced unfussy typically male characters in computer games that occasionally transcend their generic role? Are they more than the sum of their banal traits?

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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