Remember in the 1978 Superman movie, when Superman fails to save Lois Lane from her grisly earthquake/car crash demise? He rectifies this by flying so fast around Earth, it spins backwards and resets time. He then has ample opportunity to save her from death.
In the same way that Superman raped the fabric of time and “started over,” Gears of War 3 has essentially pulled the same stunt in the gaming universe. The Gears franchise has become so badass and ahead of its time that in order to innovate, it’s had to circle the industry’s history and infuse more established standards of gameplay into its repertoire of features.
These are three Gears of War 3 elements that prove Epic studios is following Superman’s lead:
3. The Bayonet
This is how you know your game franchise is ridiculous: your weapons are so esoteric and bizarre that including a normal, real-world and physically functional weapon is seen as a ballsy move. When introducing a weapon that was used prevalently during the Napoleonic wars is a “new feature,” something’s amiss. In their crafting of the game’s weapons, Epic’s design team had obviously reached an impenetrable brick wall of awesomeness/insanity that would not budge. Their solution? Reverse time and start adding normal weaponry. I’m guessing we’ll see catapults and blowguns in Gears of War 4.
2. Team Deathmatch
Gears of War 2 featured a multiplayer game mode in which players took turns seeing who could hold onto a dying monster the longest without getting killed by the other team. Where do you go from that? When you have successfully created your own version of capture the flag featuring locust corpses, what’s the next logical step? Well, apparently, the only way forward is backward. Team Deathmatch. Not only the oldest, but the first actual multiplayer mode in shooter history. Epic literally started from square one; it takes a certain brand of crazy to admit that your online game is so bonkers, your best bet is to skip back to the past and begin fresh.
1. Horde Mode’s Strategy Mechanics
Many classic strategy games are getting reboots these days, and almost all of them are transformed into shooters (promoted with the usual game-advertising rhetoric: “visceral,” “cinematic,” etc.). The long-rumored Starbreeze title Syndicate was recently officially announced with plenty of fanfare, despite the fact that’s it’s an entirely different game from its predecessor. X-Com was a favorite of mine in middle school; the (you guessed it) shooter reboot has been poking its head into games conferences throughout the last year. Shooters sell, they’re easy to justify, and they have a dedicated audience, no matter the subject matter. So what do you do when you have created one of the shootiest shooters to ever shoot? Why, you go back in time, cherry pick game features from decades ago, and add strategy elements. Gears of War 3’s Horde 2.0 includes base-building, currency mining, equipment deployments, and supply management. I guess we’re lucky Epic didn’t travel farther back in time; we could be using those bayonets to carve our names into tombstones after dying from dysentery (hmmm…actually, I want to hunt buffalo with a lancer).
So, to recap:
Gears of War 3 is Lois Lane. Epic Games is Superman. Epic/Superman knew that the game/Lois Lane would not last if it did not innovate/save her. However, Epic, like Superman, was apparently doing literally the best they could. So, the only possible course of action was to go back in time to save Gears. And Lois Lane. My head hurts.
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