“ Man. Come October 11, I will take the month off work and be chain sawing some big-ass monsters into oblivion”
-things EPIC games wants you to be saying on their ‘Gears of War 4’ E3 trailer Youtube comments section.
“Lmao all the sony e3 vids have at least half a million views. Some have 4M views like god of war 4. RIP XBOX ONE 2013-2013”
-Actual state of the ‘Gears of war 4’ E3 trailer Youtube comments section.
And that’s just the least of it. Go to any Youtube demonstration, check out most of Game Journalism twitter. Browse through multiple audience gameplay reaction videos. Scroll through reddit/neogaf/gamespot forums etc. etc. Scour the entire internet until hell freezes over and there’s this one commonality that you will find:
People are ripping on Gears of War.
And this isn’t gentle, loving mockery either. They are actively rooting against it. Continuing the trend of condescension that EPIC games most fabled franchise has endured for what seems like a good number of years now. In the eyes of many gamers’, it has become the very casualty of the trends it helped pioneer during the beginning of its’ console generation. From a cutting-edge technical showcase for new hardware (at the time) that featured fresh-feeling, awesome looking gameplay to a has-been, tired ,third person shooter featuring an unnecessarily grey colour scheme, thin storytelling where one-note steroidal ‘bros’ pop behind cover and shoot generic looking monsters while spouting X-TREME one liners.
And it’s just not fair.
Don’t get me wrong. It IS all those things. The very epitome of grand –scale popcorn entertainment that is meant to be enjoyed by the largest possible audience that shamelessly works overtime to please everyone. What it is definitely NOT is : lazy and badly designed. In fact, if you’ll be honest with yourself, it was and still is one of the most polished third person shooters ever constructed. With a series of gameplay mechanics that connect seamlessly, level design that only seemed to get better with each installment and limitless enjoyable multiplayer and online modes. The first game was released in 2007 and barring a few hiccups, it’s STILL damn playable and fun.
It practically REDEFINED co-operative gameplay for the last generation and its’ multiplayer helped keep XBOX live popular for many years into it’s early years. It also featured unapologetic gore, punchy weapons and excellent pacing that emphasized ‘forward momentum’ that would become a hallmark for most every game last generation.
People have also stopped giving it credit for it’s many prodigious achievements. Aside from single handedly creating a new way to play shooters with it’s ground-breaking cover mechanic. It was the FIRST game to really apply some of the lessons learned from RESIDENT EVIL 4 correctly and expand on them. It practically REDEFINED co-operative gameplay for the last generation and its’ multiplayer helped keep XBOX live popular for many years into it’s early years. Aside from being the only game at the time that really pushed hardware and to demonstrate what the UNREAL engine was capable of and featuring a beautifully designed world and lore way before DARK SOULS came into place. It also featured unapologetic gore, punchy weapons and excellent pacing that emphasized ‘forward momentum’ that would become a hallmark for most every game last generation. In fact, you may not admit it but GEARS is STILL more fun to play than UNCHARTED (which seems to have become the ‘tasteful’ action game du-jour these days).
In a world where social anxiety ,isolation and desperation ruled supreme, gamers gravitated more towards ‘The Last of Us’ than ‘Gears’.
If I had to attribute it’s decline in prestige, it’s that perhaps it wasn’t subtle. Despite it’s sophistication, it was lovingly and intentionally designed as an 80’s action movie, giving gamers who loved movies like TERMINATOR, ALIENS, ROBOCOP, PREDATOR and THE THING a chance to live their monster-destroying fantasies in glorious next-gen graphics. It was deliberately targeted to that crowd without any cynicism or highbrow aspirations. It can also be theorized that the advent of NAUGHTY DOG and it’s somewhat grittier, thoughtful, thematic narratives (mixed with the adrenaline) sort of made the GEARS series obsolete in some people’s eyes. After all, we were living in a post-‘Dark Knight’ Christopher Nolan era where most of pop culture suddenly decided to take a turn towards introspection and brooding. In a world where social anxiety ,isolation and desperation ruled supreme, gamers gravitated more towards ‘The Last of Us’ than ‘Gears’.
Still, there is room for both. Just like you can enjoy both ‘Inception’ and the first ‘Transformers’. You can love both Naughty Dog’s games and Gears of War. Despite the rapid decline in esteem of the series, I urge gamers to go back and play the series once again. It’s still a hamburger. But it’s a LOVINGLY crafted hamburger that often delights in gratifying and amazing the audience (As our review states).
It’s a big, dopey game with a big dopey heart. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.