Gears of War – The Audacity of Rails

After finally succumbing to the nervous tics and vacillating frustration that is Mass Effect’s broken ass save game feature, I decided to take a break from its drunken carom from crisp enjoyable action RPG to mind numbing yet complex talkie-talk game world. Two things about my internal narration. If you put anything indicative of time, for example “two years later” I hear it as per the soon to be included audio file. Any time a guy shoots himself to stop himself from doing something bad, or a fundamentally good person takes Lenny to imagine some rabbits, my internal wiseass pipes up and greets me with the phrase “Shit just got real.”

I decompressed with Lumines. All the pop of Tetris, without waiting for the long skinny piece. Pressure without panic. The only thing I wish I could change is nudging the time line’s block clearing ability one half square to the right, as I keep clipping my block dropping, resulting in much less spectacular clearing. But as you play, you begin to unlock little nuggets of understanding, which I haven’t really felt since minesweeper speed runs.

I revisited Gears of War, my initial view of the game as a horizontal platformer was premature, as I like to pretend I know what I’m talking about having only played 1/5 of the game.  Now I’m in Chapter 3, and a strange transformation took place. As Marcus Fenix (voiced by… Bender Bending Rodriguez?) you and your fellow Space Marines COG soldiers wind your way through, uh what city er planet are we on again? And who are these Stranded guys? Ok. So the plot isn’t any better/memorable (I just got the sticky bomb launching Torque Bow and am about to blow up an Imulsion mining station… Isn’t this how the homophobic love story Ender’s Game begins? It’s a push on the “sticky bomb” launcher, but mining of unobtainium dredging up the Formicas?) But the game begins to change, slowly at first more corridors than amphitheaters, then an infinitely exploding propane tank based play on Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Dark Aether mechanic, your movement gets more and more constrained. As the linearity of the gameplay begins to set in, I found myself thinking “this game is turning into a rail shooter” – then the game slaps you across the face and throws you into a mining car. The game eventually relaxes its rail chokehold, settling into an Area 51 style of play. I wonder if for Gears of War 3 they’re going to have the Kinect do a Time Crisis style cover pedal, I was joking at first… but now I think that might actually be fun – optional mode?

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