Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Still manly

The simmering homosexual tension between Dom and Marcus has been the butt of many jokes and I freely admit to making more than a few myself. They are just so manly and close that it's hard to not imagine how well they know the ins and outs of each others armor. When the world is ending you get it where you can. After poking fun, though, I always admitted that I liked Marcus and Dom; they might not be the deepest of characters, but they are likable, and I have seen them go through some pretty terrible things. Dom finally finding his wife alive (more or less), then shooting her out of mercy was an unexpected emotional moment in what could have been a mindless shooter.

I knew that there was going to be something similar in Gears of War 3, but it still got me right here when Dom sacrifices himself to save the rest of the unit. And if that wasn't enough, for the first time in three games Marcus' eyes opened to a bit wider than a squint. He was no longer an emotionless hard ass bent on the destruction of another species. For a few moments he wild eyed with panic, willing to throw himself into a literal inferno to pull out the remains of his friend. It was amazingly well handled and frankly a devastating moment. It was also not the end of Marcus' torment, as his father turns to ask in his hands after saving the world/killing all the locust and lambent everywhere. When the game is finally finished Marcus walks past the cheering crowds of the (few) surviving humans, sheds his armor, and sits by himself on the beach, wondering what to do next. Yes, the world is saved, but now what?

Gears of War 3 is not the first game to use the annihilation of an entire species as a plot point. Killzone 3 did, but it chickened out at the very end and kept the bad guys alive. The ending of Gears sees all the locust everywhere being killed. It also manages to make them the victim, as Marcus' father was in contact with them years before their initial attack and was tasked with taking care of the lambent problem. He failed, the locust attacked out of desperation, then kidnapped him to keep working on his weapon. There is never an explanation as to why the locust queen was human, which I would have liked, nor do any humans show any remorse for destruction of all the locust. I suppose this in understandable, as even though the locust had to leave their tunnels they did not need to do so with such enthusiasm.

My off hand statement from last week, putting Gears ahead of Halo in the realm of exclusive shooters, stands. They are better single player games, which all I really care about.

...

The King of Fighters XIII experiment is on. When the connection is good it is almost as good as Street Fighter. When it is bad it is really, really bad. Matchmaking is broken, as the filters make no difference. I set things up to only allow invites from people with four bar connections and then went into arcade mode. The first invite I received was from some Alaskan bastard's basement over a cell phone connection. It was unplayable, so I have decided to avoid that completely and play only with people I know. The game itself feels like an odd mix of Street Fighter and Marvel. Spacing and footsies are important, though much more jump heavy and Street Fighter, and success can be had with simple hit confirms and short jump in combos. On the other hand there are also massive execution heavy combos that require all your meters, all your time to learn, and all the you fingers to do. I know I shouldn't worry about those, but damn if they don't look pretty.

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