Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Manly Vs. Macho in Gears

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 11 Oct 2011 16:00
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Meanwhile, Fenix's problem is the opposite: He gets plenty of dialogues, but it all paints him as a complete tosser. And it's strange, because thinking about it I can't think of anyone in GoW3 who wouldn't have made a better protagonist than Fenix. Despite everyone having only one character trait each, like "is sarcastic" or "wears a hat". Fenix is the only character who never has a single moment of levity that might make him likeable to any degree at all. He exists only to bark orders and simmer with humourless rage and/or despair.

On its own, this would only make the character boring. Fenix crosses over to "unlikeable" after the shock death of (spoilers again) Dom, his usual co-op partner in the series thus far. As I said in the review, Fenix has existed in a state of unending brooding anger for so long that any additional brooding anger he gains from mourning his long-time friend is virtually unnoticeable. Shortly afterwards there's a scene in which Fenix and pals lead the Locust to a human survivor settlement who are all promptly slaughtered. Now, bearing in mind that Fenix should have been well aware that the Locust were following him since he'd encountered them many times up to this point, the settlement's leader quite justifiably chews him out. Fenix responds by changing the subject and whining like a fucking child: "I JUST LOST MY BROTHER!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!!" Yes, Marcus, I'm pretty sure he does understand, because you just killed his entire family and everyone he knew. You cunt.

All of this paints a picture of a man with the mental age of 12 who thinks only his own grief matters. You could say the same for the ending scene after it's revealed that the Locust only invaded the surface because they were forced out of their homeland and Fenix's dad reneged on his agreement to help retake them. All of which flies right over Fenix's meaty head and he interrupts the Locust Queen's valid expression of grievance by stabbing her in the gut with his big knife (Freudian imagery again), growling "THISH ISH FUR DOM". I mean, come on. Someone explain to me what the hell kind of character arc this was supposed to be before my brain junks what memories of the series remain.

Getting back to Resistance 3, another important aspect of the Hero's Journey is that all hope appears to be lost just before the final act. There's a very effective cutscene as Capelli trudges alone into frozen New York with no chuffin' idea of what he's supposed to do when he gets there. He finds a radio that he's not even sure is working and gives an emotional heartfelt message to his wife and child before getting up and going back out into the snow, certain that he wasn't coming back. It's a rather splendid character moment, but then he shakes it off and bunny hops around Times Square shooting baddies because gameplay takes over. It illustrates how tragic it is that Capelli's cutscene characterization couldn't be kept consistent (crikey).

The game's plot kind of gets a bit hasty at around wrapping-up time. Despite Malikov claiming that only he would be able to destroy the Chimera tower in New York, Capelli manages it by basically doing an upscaled version of backing his car into it. But for what it's worth, the characters work.

Resistance 3 and Gears 3 present two opposing problems. On the one hand, a relatable manly hero who isn't given the screen time he needs. On the other, a dipshit macho hero given far too many opportunities to come across as a complete twat. Capelli's personality combined with Fenix's consistency, and there you have a well-written game protagonist, my friends. It also doesn't hurt to not give them body types that look like they make a living working the door at the angry charging bull disco.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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