I finished Gears of War 2 the other day. It took me far longer than it should have done because of a slightly doughy patch in its middle that I needed a push through, but overall it was a better game than the first in every way. Crude and brainless, yes, but is that a bad thing?
There are a lot of gamers who will hold up games like Gears 2 as the worst thing to ever happen to gaming, somehow responsible for denying the medium its rightful place among the ‘respected’ entertainment media, but I think that there’s always a place for this kind of thing. Besides the point that no one except gamers takes it that seriously, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think that games aren’t respected enough because of testosterone-fuelled action games.
Aliens, Terminator 2, Die Hard, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Matrix… All of these movies are, to various extents, considered to be classics, if not in general then certainly of their genre. They might have some cod philosophy to please the chin-stroking crowd, but at the end of the day you watch them to see people with guns doing cool shit.
Gears is the same as that. It’s as subtle as a brick, but it looks amazing – see the above shot – the tight action is second to none when it’s on a roll and, on the whole, I just had a brilliant time with it. Is it art? Who cares? I’d prefer movie posters and comic book artwork on my walls to Monet, and I’d prefer Gears to a game that’s trying to be clever for the sake of it. At least Gears of War is honest about the fact that it’s a game, and the point of them is to be fun.
If you’re looking to Gears to bring you closer to enlightenment you’re barking up the wrong tree – hell, it’s barely even a tree in that case – and I won’t come away from it as a better person, but I got to ride a fucking Brumak!