The boop-i-dee-bop and the whamble-di-dee of Gears of War 3

, | Games

Late in Gears of War 3, someone will say, “Bloody hell, they found the UIR! It’s a Gorasni ship!” The line is delivered as if it’s something that matters, but Gears of War 3 hasn’t told me what a UIR is or who the Gorasni are. The line might as well have been “Bloody hell, they found the Boop-i-dee-bop! It’s a Whamble-di-dee ship!” It’s an example of how Gears 3 cares about itself far too much to be arsed to care about me.

But my favorite scene is after the jump

My favorite scene, if you could call it that, happens earlier in the game. Ice T– yes, that Ice T — is a CEO. Marcus Fenix is whatever he is, and as uninteresting as ever. The two characters get into a tiff, which presumably passes for drama. Waa waa waa my brother. Waa waa waa my people. Waa waa waa my angst is louder than yours. Waa waa waa I’m going to use the word motherfucker. Marcus, who has just read an interview with the Ice T CEO in one of the game’s collectibles in which Mr. T talks about what it’s like to lead a posse or corporation, gets the upper hand by yelling loudest of all. Then Marcus throws down the trump card, which is bringing up a character who conveniently died earlier in the game.

“We’ll settle this another time,” Ice T concludes, adding the word “bitch” for good measure. Then he gets into an upside-down school bus, rolls away never to return, and flips Fenix the bird with one of the standard-issue impossibly large hands assigned to male characters in Gears of War. When a Gears character flips the bird, it’s a serious bird. Like an emu or something. Then one of the game’s interchangeable small-handed women reminds Fenix that everyone’s supposed to be looking for a submarine.

If any of that made sense to you, I apologize for what could have been a spoiler. At least I didn’t spoiler one of the absurdly earnest sentimental scenes. I’ll let you enjoy those bits of inadvertent comedy as you come across them. Suffice to say, if Gary Jules were dead, he would be spinning in his grave. Instead, I hope he’s enjoying a hearty chuckle, along with hearty royalty checks for his Mad World cover.

Everyone involved in the storytelling bits of Gears of War continues to be 14 years old, tone deaf, and bereft of anything resembling an appreciation for character, plot, or even the basics of plausible dialogue, much less entertaining dialogue. The single best line in the game, and I’m convinced it’s entirely by accident because it belongs in a better game, is “How did you get that scar?”

What a clot of terrible storytelling, particularly for how seriously it takes itself. How is it that Epic can create a game, and Microsoft can publish it, and millions of dollars can go into its development, and millions more into its promotion, and no one with any say in the matter considered a story that isn’t juvenile, embarrassing, flat, derivative, and uninteresting? If I want that stuff, I’ll go see one of Michael Bay’s Transformer movies, which at least feature actual women. Well, models, at any rate. Gears continues to play like something written by someone who’s never had an actual conversation with a woman. Which is quite an accomplishment given that Epic hired a woman to write it. Or, to put it in words someone who makes Gears of War might recognize, “Hey Anya, have you ever been mistaken for a woman?”

But this isn’t just a problem with Gears, which isn’t a bad game so much as a retread of a game you’ve already played twice, with worse-than-ever writing poured thickly, almost obscenely, over the top. Hey, popular videogames, when are you going to grow up already? You might argue that you don’t need to because you’re successful. Well you’re wrong. That’s exactly why you need to grow up.