Aftershock: Gears of War 3′s Story Sucks (MAJOR SPOILERS)

“Aftershock” is a recurring feature column on Game Front. We take games we’ve already reviewed and give them a sober second look once the post-launch dust has settled.

This editorial contains major spoilers for the plot of Gears of War 3. You have been warned.

I think we all can agree that, for the most part, the multiplayer in Gears of War 3 is solid. (With one important exception being Sandbar, which is way unbalanced toward whoever gets the sniper rifle.) In any case, I don’t wanna talk about the multiplayer. I wanna talk about the campaign, which is the thing I like to talk about.

From a technical standpoint, the campaign is good. It looks nice and it can get pretty tense at times. Meanwhile, it’s missing great set pieces and it’s probably too easy, but those are small things. My big gripe is that the story just effing sucks.

Where do I begin? Let’s start with the big twist at the end. Marcus and Delta Squad finally reunite with Adam Fenix, and Adam reveals that some people knew about the Locusts before E-Day and that they were actually working with them to stop the Lambent. This is a huge thing to drop on us, and while Baird seems pretty interested in this turn of events, nobody else is and the game pretty much just pretends the revelation is never made. And we don’t learn anything else about the relationship between Adam and Myrrah, the Locust queen. In fact, when Marcus meets her face to face later on, he just stabs her in the gut and tosses her aside.

This is just another instance of one of this franchise’s larger problems: that it teases at this interesting greater mythology but never explores it. This happens a few times in Gears 3, with the most annoying other example being when Baird points out that the Queen looks human and speculates, perhaps jokingly, that she actually is a human who joined up with the Locust at some point in the past. Is that ever going to be addressed? Nope! That one mention is the only time that comes up.

Now, let’s talk about Dom. Dom dies in this game, and it’s supposed to be a big emotional moment. I can only assume this is what people are referring to when they tweet at Cliffy B that the game made them cry. And, for a second, it does look like it’s going to be one of the more weighty moments in the series, but then an instrumental version of “Mad World” kicks in. When that happens, you stop dwelling on this potentially great character moment in which Dom sacrifices himself to save his friends and instead think, “Holy s–t, it’s Mad World!” Using a song we all know because it was featured in the marketing for the original game completely undercuts the moment. Excellent work, Epic.

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32 Comments on Aftershock: Gears of War 3′s Story Sucks (MAJOR SPOILERS)

radds

On September 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm

its just a game for god sake

Phil Owen

On September 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

You realize I get paid to write things like this, right?

sanjit

On September 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Glad somebody said it >_>, I was very disappointed with how it turned out.

woard

On September 29, 2011 at 4:50 am

wow dude ur a complete idiot, whoever is paying u should stop because u clearly have no idea whats going on in the game.

Fletcher

On September 29, 2011 at 5:12 am

perhaps you should enlighten us with what’s really happening in the game then instead of throwing a fit? Nice article by the way. I did not pick up GOW 3 when it came out nor do I intend to now.

Ron Whitaker

On September 29, 2011 at 5:23 am

The “It’s just a game” argument falls kinda flat in this case. Remember, you have people talking about how powerful and epic the story is and how it hit them harder than any other video game story. These are the same people getting tattoos that commemorate the game and shaving freakin’ COG symbols into their heads (granted, it’s less permanent that way). To that large group of people, it’s obviously not “just a game.”

Besides, that’s a cop out. Everyone throws a fit when someone like Roger Ebert dismisses games, but then they echo his argument when someone like Owen here comes down on a game they like for making no sense or having a poor story. You can’t have it both ways.

Look past the fact that you love Gears, and try to be objective. Just calling Owen an idiot and saying he’s wrong isn’t going to convince anyone. I haven’t played Gears 3, but the story in the Gears games has never made any sense. Why should the third one be any different? The biggest surprise to me is that people are surprised by this.

JosephPS3 Dead State

On September 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Phil Owen will always be Da Man in my book for being one of the rare reviewers for not being drugged and seeing Catherine for what it really is-an absurd, asinine, frustrating game.

http://www.gamefront.com/catherine-review/

When 95% of your fellow peers are giving high scores, it takes some guts to come out and say it as you see it. Agree or disagree with him but one thing for sure you can count on is Phil Owen saying how he truly feels and backing it up.

SupremeAllah

On September 30, 2011 at 12:17 am

Why the hell don’t I get paid for commenting?

In fact, why don’t you guys give me a job. I’ve got professional writing experience and, I’m not always an .

JosephPS3 Dead State

On September 30, 2011 at 4:09 am

lmao @ SupremeAllah, “give me a job….I’m not always an ” Oh yeah that’s how you get a job lol

Nobody cares what you say. I read some of your blogs. You’ve got nothing interesting to say. My impression is you’re a 16 year old teenager with a little brother who also blogs here and goes by the name AIDS.

Alah Akbar! Alah Akbar! Alah Akbar! Alah Akbar! Alah Akbar! Alah Akbar!

TheManWho

On September 30, 2011 at 4:25 am

I’m a big Gears fan, loved the first one.. second one was great, but have to say I was very disappointed by the 3rd.. it was just all a bit ‘meh’ to me.. didnt really have any stand out moments. Moments like the lambert berserker should have been more interesting, I just found fighting it boring, as with the queen at the end. I guess, they just kinda ran out of ideas, it must be hard to think of new stuff when you’ve run the idea into the ground. Everything in this game kinda felt like, been there done that, except, the time I did it before was better/more fun.

Luckily for me the game was saved by Horde 2.0, which has obviously had a lot of time and effort put into it.

NowhereMan

On September 30, 2011 at 5:32 am

Good article, with lots of points I too felt during the game. Especially the part with Marcus’ reaction to Griffin, I had the exact same thing in mind. In movies, the really good ones define themselves from the lesser ones by having a story where there are no loopholes, and where everything in reactions is made as realistic as possible.
Where you as the viewer feel when your watching a certain scene ‘yeah that’s what I would do as well’ or that you know at least some people would. A really good movie can even have a handful of these mistakes, if the better overshadows this.
With the SP of Gears 3, there were so many flaws in the story, unrealistic reactions, stuff that isn’t fleshed out (Baird asking Marcus how Dom died, with Marcus just saying: ‘Later Baird’, afterwards ofcourse nothing), the end Boss doesn’t even begin to compare to Raam from Gears 1 (way too easy, way too cliche, had a damn ceiling falling on its head, but ofcourse like any Hollywood-cliche flick returns unharmed). All this makes Gears 3 story a mediocre Hollywood flick, something in the range of 5 – 6. Only younger folk problably will not or cannot see these faults. IMO Gears 2′s SP was a lot better, Gears 1 ofcourse still remains the best of the series. Luckily the MP is awesome, so I’m still enjoying this game to the fullest, however, through the SP, I was just playing for achievements, and was waiting for it to end the whole time.

SupremeAllah

On September 30, 2011 at 9:38 am

@JosephPS3whatever

You responded directly to me, so clearly you do care. And I hardly doubt you speak for everyone, since you are but one child.

Tim

On September 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm

The story sucks assassin. In my opinion Dom didn’t need to kill himself. I agree with everybody. I was waiting for it to end. Since they felt the need to kill Dom they should have done it like in Armageddon, with Bruce Willis. Where his death was 100% needed to save the team. I didn’t really get the relationship between him and Sam either.

Jordan

On October 1, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Great article. I agree with you 100%. I was talking with my friends about the gears 3 campaign, and needless to say we were all frustrated. From the stupid submarine fight, to the absurd pacing of the story and the frustrating AI. it all made me want to go play ANYTHING else but campaign, even another game.

Zach

On October 7, 2011 at 11:19 am

total agreement with the article, loved the series but when this one ended, it was disappointing(“That’s it?!”)

edwin

On October 14, 2011 at 2:59 am

Gears of ear 3 is a piece of game

adam

On October 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

You say a song we all know? That is rather presumptuous. Poor article btw.

Ole Griff

On October 19, 2011 at 12:59 am

The entire campaign was a let down from story to repetition, like all games I understand there must be some repetition but at least add a little substance to counter… EPIC got everyone fired up and my anticipation was high, then after act 2 I was so sick of playing I wished that it would be over soon, but after setting through what seemed to be 500 hours of cut scenes and killing the same enemies over and over the game ended. No game has ever let me down more. One thing that was cool though was the character named Griffin and the only reason that was cool is because that is my name, other than a waste of time and money. I will say this though if they would have gave Clayton Carmine better voice acting and brought him into the game standing on top of a mound of shot-to-pieces Locusts gripping one by the throat and made him the B.A.M.F. he was meant to be, the entire game would have been worth it, I mean how can you have a huge iconic character like “the last carmine” and have him leave for 90% of the game…. come on the guy has grub killer on his freakin’ chest plate. EPIC had an EPIC FAIL on this one.

Andy

On October 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Hit the nail on the head there Phil about story – I even remember when I heard Cliffy B talking about how story doesn’t matter and gameplay is everything. What an right? He should go on leave to learn from story-masters, Bioware. Not only that, but how likely is it that Microsoft/Epic are going to charge +2000 MSP on XBL to find out a) what the queen is b) what happens to Griffin?

tony

On October 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Game was boring as hell. I am trading it in TOMORROW for the release of BF3. Man, I wish I had merely RENTED IT.

The campaign was boring as well, nothing stood out. Okay Dom died, that was the only important thing in the SP and all that did was piss me off.

The boss fights were lame, the sub scene was lame, everything felt so cookie-cutter cliched and nothing was exciting.

Multiplayer sucks too. For like a week it was kind of fun, but even then I was already growing tired of it. Just because you can share campaign with three other clowns doesn’t make it any better. I don’t even WANT to play the campaign again. I’m so tired of opening metal doors, standing on damned barbed wire and pushing buttons.

Stupid ass game. Just when I thought I was done buying new games for $59.99 I go and do it again.

Jason

On October 26, 2011 at 1:17 am

I have to agree 100% with the campaign dwindling compared to it’s predecessors. Those that say “OMG IT’S THE GREATEST” are blinded by their own stupidity. It seemed like Epic was just making crap up as they went.

It didn’t flow very well it all. Some chapters seemed tacked on and just a waste of time.

Then comes Doms death. Wow that was a big moment. But it was boring. I was utterly bored when he died. I got a little surprise. But compared to how his wife died it wasn’t very dramatic at all. There was no build up. He just drove the truck and died.

Then comes the ending. They tried to wrap EVERYTHING up in the last 5 minutes of the game. Some just made no sense.

I think the problem with Gears is they rely to heavily on cut scenes to do all the story telling.

At the end of the day, it’s a solid game and I love the multiplayer. They’ve made huge steps forward with the MP but the campaign seriously lacked in the final installment.

Great article, it was a good read.

Ric Voman

On October 28, 2011 at 9:17 am

FINALLY someone else says the story sucks. The biggest problem is that the game doesn’t NEED a decent story, yet Gears 3 seemed to try so hard at making a compelling story. It was too little too late, as the first 2 games set you up as a bunch of unrealistic, unlikeable douche bag steroid grunts that are out to destroy aliens. That’s not a setup for a story, that’s just a setup for a fun game.

I played through most of Gears 3, and it was clear that Epic wanted the player to actually care about the world in this game. The problem is the first two games setup a world that didn’t demand any emotion at all. Hell, in Gears 2, the most “emotional” part is Dom annoyingly saying ” I miss my f**king wife!”

I actually laughed when Dom died in Gears 3 because of how horribly predictable ones. Right before he dies he gets to the grave of his “f**king” wife, and tries to act like a human being. I knew right away that he was going to die, and soon. Within minutes he sacrifices himself for some reason, and even before he dies the sad music starts up, as if the game is telling you “Hey, this is sad, you should be sad now” without actually naturally evoking that emotion. Plus, like I said before, the characters in Gears weren’t made to be likeable or relatable at all, so it feels lack luster when Gears 3 tries so hard to convince me that I actually care about their a-hole characters (seriously, if you met any of those characters in real life, you’d hate those guys).

Ric Voman

On October 28, 2011 at 9:21 am

Furthermore, I find it funny that “story” is such a focus when people review games and make games, because I think storytelling in videogames is the worst storytelling in any sort of media. Some of the “best” video game narratives are below average movie plots at best – and the “character performances” are always below par. The closest to coming to good narrative (in a movie-like story with good acting) is Uncharted, but if that game were released as a movie or a book as is, it’d be pretty bad.

Brad

On November 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I actually really LOVE the Gears of War series, but I’m somewhat in agreeance with the article and some of the comments.

I was stunned/highly upset when Clayton Carmine first spoke in the game only to sound like the other Carmine kids. He should have had a beefed up voice and an attitude much like that of Dom’s in Gears 2. He lost 2 brothers to this war against the Locusts for crying out loud.

Dom’s death scene was very predictable (as mentioned above). I think I would have handled it differently. If they were going to play the mad world song, then I thought it would have been a great mind-f*** if right before he crashed, somebody else blew up the platform the COGs were fighting on. Something about somebody at peace with the thought of making the ultimate sacrifice only to be robbed of the opportunity really makes for a better story than what happened.

But then again, maybe that’s why I don’t write stories or create video games. :/

On top of the lackluster story, I do feel that the vast majority of the film staff/community are a bunch of s (with the exception of Will Kinsler). For some reason, I get a feeling like they think they are some kind of rockstars who think they are better than everybody. If you get on twitter or facebook, these guys only respond to people within their own little community who kiss kiss kiss their asses.

Having said all of that, I do really enjoy the Multiplayer modes and the special weekends they have for their players. It’s pretty cool that they do that kind of thing to entice people to keep playing.

Terry

On November 4, 2011 at 9:25 am

I agre with this article 100%. GOW 1&2 were excellent and the stories were beautiful. GOW3 just didn’t flow right and left too many unanswered questions. Why does the queen look human etc? Actually the story was pretty basic and boring.

RobAlister

On January 8, 2012 at 4:27 am

I agree with everything in this article. What made me really get into Gears was the story. Of course I love multiplayer but I loved the story as well. When Epic claimed that they were going to reveal somethings but not everything I had no idea they meant that we weren’t going to learn anything new at all. They gave us a huge hint about Imulsion being alive on part 2. All part 3 tells us is that it’s hostile (duh!). I’m hoping they saved something for a part 4 or sequel because if they didn’t there was no point in creating the sub-plots and such.

Spencer

On May 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I totally agree. I think the biggest indicator of a bad campaign for me was the fact that I felt bored while playing gears 3. That never happened during the first or second games… so much creativity was there. With the beserker and the bats in the first game and the gigantic worm and razorhail in number two, there were always interesting things going on. My guess is that Epic got so wrapped up in making the multiplayer great that the campaign story got left on the back burner. A little sad but… oh well. We still have two amazing gears of war games. :)

T Wal

On June 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm

A magic machine that kills all the bad guys? …That is becoming an unfortunate trend in sci-fi games… specifically sci-fi games ending with “3″.

Name*

On February 16, 2013 at 9:17 am

100% Disagree, Campaign was great.
Supposed to be vague hence why there’s a ing GOW4 coming out, but k.

LOL

On February 16, 2013 at 9:22 am

I think Mad Worlds completely syncs with this game, as the Hammer of Dawn completely ashes all Char, hence “All around me Familiar Faces”, “Worn out places”; Char was a giant memory for everyone. People jump into the game see something they don’t like then immediately down the game. 100% disagree with this Article.

TheDog

On February 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

Thank you LOL. If you or Wesker comes to defend a game, then I know it’s absolutely a piece of vanilla scented horse droppings. This is all the proof I need to know not to get this game.

Jamez

On February 16, 2013 at 10:48 am

TheDog – don’t let them cloud your judgement. They’re just blind fanboys. Treat the game objectively, which I would suggest in this case equates to gameplay = fun but unoriginal, story = stupid but not the focus. If you like GOW you’ll like this, if you didn’t like GOW you probably won’t like this. At least it didn’t have a previously decent story to absolutely destroy, unlike Mass Effect.