Spoils of War

Warning: this blog contains heavy spoilers for Gears of War 3. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Gears of War 3 is a fantastic game. It’s not a perfect title (for reasons detailed in David Houghton’s fantastic article for Games Radar) but it’s still undoubtedly one of the highlights of this year. It has the same brutal, fast and fun gameplay of its predecessors with enough new features to make it seem familiar yet fresh. The multiplayer mode is more comprehensive than ever, combining competitive and co-operative modes into a single package that’s a joy to play. To this day, there’s still little that’s more satisfying than hearing that crunch as you pop an enemy’s head like a balloon.


The main crux of the game lies in the campaign mode, however. Being the third in the trilogy, it promises to tie up many loose ends left by the first two in the series and bring some irrevocable changes to the universe. Its tagline of ‘Brothers to the End’ more or less confirms that someone will die somewhere along the way.

So I was playing through the single-player, enjoying every set-piece that was being thrown my way and massacring countless Locust over the course of the adventure. I played a large amount of the story, always wanting to see how the adventure would progress and watch how the trilogy would be wrapped up once and for all. I played a huge chunk of it when I first received it, deciding to call it a night on the second day about halfway through the game, when Marcus and the crew are searching Dom’s hometown for supplies.  Dom’s just had his emo moment sobbing by his family’s grave and hung his cogtags on their monument when I decide to finish up for the night.

I log onto Twitter for my nightly fix and scan through my timeline for anything interesting that’s been said. That’s when my eyes settle upon a retweet that says:

‘The moment in GoW 3 that will make you silent.’

It was from that single tweet that I knew Dom was going to die.

It was only a short, vague statement, but combined with what I’d played through so far — Dom had just boo-hooed over his family’s deaths, after all —  it was made obvious that he was the Gear we’d be saying goodbye to. Yes, there were a few other characters in the chapter and it is titled ‘Brothers to the End’,  but it wouldn’t be so affecting if a newcomer like Jace or Sam, however likeable they may be, bit the dust. Only Dom, the man who had been by our side since the very beginning, departing Sera would truly have me silenced.

And lo and behold, in the very next scene, Dom sacrifices himself so his teammates can escape an onslaught of Lambent Locust. Yes, it’s overblown, hammy and melodramatic, but it still packs an emotional wallop. Or at least it would do if some random person hadn’t ruined one of the most important parts of the storyline for me.

It’s not only that section that was spoiled, either: the fate of Clayton Carmine, one of the most anticipated and discussed aspects of the game, was also revealed to me prematurely.

I reached the end of the game and made it to the halfway point of the end cutscene, at which point my pal, Jonathan decided to join my game. As a result, the scene was cut short, show me the credits and dump me back in the lobby. I had finished the game, but I had no idea how it actually finished.

How Gears 3 ended for me.

Thanks, Johnny.

Anyway, ‘no biggie’, I thought: ‘I’ll just repeat the final chapter and see how it ends another time’. I hopped into a game of Horde with a few pals and we were just chatting about our thoughts on the game when, without asking if we’d all finished the campaign, one of them said:

“I think it’s pretty cool how Carmine survives at the end of the game.”

Just like that, one of the most intriguing questions of this generation had just been answered without my asking for it. I now knew his fate, so what was the point of rewatching the scene at all? It was bad enough that one of the two most essential aspects of the game had been ruined for me, but both? It was infuriating.

'I win; you lose.'

It’s not just limited to one game, either: I’ve had a plot point of Dead Island told to me just as I reached that point in the story and I’ve recently narrowly avoided a furore on Twitter over the revelation of an important plot development of Batman: Arkham City.

It’s not even contained to one medium: I’ve had the finale of Star Trek Enterprise part-spoiled for me by a random comment on GetGlue and I knew the truth behind Doctor Who’s River Song long before she announced who she truly was (although that was admittedly my fault, thanks to my addiction to TV Tropes).

Why do people love blurting out spoilers and ruining other peoples’ enjoyment of things? Do they get some sadistic thrill from showing that they’re more knowledgeable on the story than other people? It’s uncaring, unthoughful and unkind. How would the climax of GTA IV feel if you knew what happened to the major characters? Would you kindly imagine how crestfallen you’d be if the halfway point of Bioshock, one of the greatest twists in this history of any fictional medium, was ruined for you (an instance unfortunately experience by one poor member of our staff)?

I’m not saying I’m a saint when it comes to keeping narratives pristine for others: I inadvertently and unintentionally spoiled quite a big plot point in Bioshock 2 for someone on Twitter. Despite the fact, I was forgiven for it and we now no longer follow one another. I still feel terrible about it, even after all these years, and monitor my posts to ensure I don’t ruin anything for anyone.

I'm sorry, Gil.

I’m sick to death of spoilers. They’re anathema to me, completely ruining my enjoyment of a title. How would you feel if I let slip that Niko Bellic died at the end of Battlefield 3?



3 responses to “Spoils of War”

  1. Denis avatar

    I agree with your point on spoilers in general, but I think you might be squaring blame on the wrong person for the Gears reveal, Dom, not Carmine. You got burned on Carmine, dude. You need to hunt down whoever did that, watch the next three episodes of their favourite tv show right now and, in one long tirade, spoil every plot point and enjoyable moment. That’ll learn ’em.

    But Dom’s death was telegraphed from ages away. I played through the story with my wife, avoiding all media about it around launch, and we both agreed early on that it was obvious that Dom was going to bite it. In fact, it was so obvious we figured it had to be a misdirect! Unfortunately, once there was that scene at the grave, we knew what was about to happen.

    Epic did a great job on the game as a whole package, but Doms death was terribly executed (no pun intended). Not only was it, as you say, “overblown, hammy and melodramatic”, but it held absolutely no emotional impact for me or my wife at any point. I was especially disappointed as I know Gears can do much better. The Maria reveal in Gears2 was cinematically perfect, and I still find it hard to watch without developing a lump in my throat. They killed off a character we had never actually met before her death scene and made me feel worse that when they kill a character I’ve known for the last five years!

    In fact, the smart reveal of Carmine was much better done, and I truly feel sorry for you that someone spoiled that. I could have happily had someone tell me in detail every major plot point in the game up to that final cutscene and I think I’d still have played the whole way through to learn Carmines fate myself. When I saw that scene, I cheered and clapped, and it alone redeemed an otherwise massively flawed ending up to that point.

    Finally, moving away from Gears, I think you need to cut back on the social media! Perhaps an intervention is in order. I still have yet to start Batman:AC, and have not had anything beyond what is revealed in the trailers spoiled on me. Nor do I know the truth behind River Song still (though admittedly, on that point, I’m not a Who fan, apart from Blink, so I wouldn’t be reading those sites anyway). And feel free to go ahead and spoil GTA any day you’d like! I though GTA IV was boring, monotonous and bland, built in a world of gray, brown and beige, with characters I just couldn’t care less about if I had tried. There hasn’t been an enjoyable GTA since Vice City.

    In conclusion, I suggest that you unfollow 10% of the accunts you currently follow on Twitter, restrict the sites you read on a daily basis and learn the shortcut keys for closing tabs, jumping to the next article or muting friends as soon as you see or hear something about a game you’re currently playing!

  2. Simon avatar

    I still don’t see why they couldn’t just shoot the explosive fuel tank, like they’ve done 50 times before in Gears. Could have still played “Mad World” over the top of the explosion.

  3. […] Originally published on Ready Up on 12th November 2011. […]

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