The Bonus Round On Gears of War 2


The Gametrailers show Bonus Round ran a panel discussion on which would be the best shooters of this holiday season. The show began with the intent of being a mini-debate between Xbox’s Gears 2 and PlayStation’s Resistance 2. You would think this would turn into a partisan and contentious issue. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case at all.

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It’s readily apparent that the panel members represent an Xbox-centric perspective. They weren’t evangelical or manipulative or anything like that and they are all clearly very knowledgeable and respectful, but it’s easy to see that they have an Xbox-orientation. Naturally, they all showed genuine enthusiasm and optimism around Gears 2 and were apologetic and politely dismissive about Resistance 2. Shockingly, as a huge Resistance fan, I agreed with most of what they said…

Jeff Gerstmann:

They could put out Gears 1.5 and most people would think that was a perfect delivery

Shane Satterfield:

Oh, of course it’s going to deliver. It’s another Gears game.

Even though I wasn’t really a big fan of the online, so many friends on my friends list were playing it that I felt left out if I wasn’t playing it.

Michael Pachter:

Microsoft is going to turn this into something that is going to sell 360′s. They’re going to put a huge budget behind it.

I don’t think that Gears is sufficiently different to drive sales. I think Microsoft is going to make it important. They are going to promote the hell out of it. They are going to make people aware.

Basically, they unanimously agree that Gears of War doesn’t need to innovate, the game itself isn’t particularly different from the competition and never really was, and that the game’s sales and the excitement surrounding the game are really about what Microsoft’s marketing magic can make the game into rather than anything related to game design or technology. Gears of War, Halo, and ultimately the Xbox platform itself are more of a socially engineered cultural phenomenon rather than a set of products or services.

Of course this isn’t exactly a revelation to anyone reading this. Message board posters everywhere have been making those same tired complaints for years and they are rightfully dismissed as haters. What’s surprising is that this is coming from the real core of the Xbox-centric media taste makers that played such a key role in the Xbox phenomenon.


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by Rjcc on October 7th, 2008 [ 490 Points ]

    so…to recap, Gears isn’t fun, people only like it because marketing says to?

    not because it’s an incredible game that’s fun to play?

    It’s interesting how you view games that people like to play coupled with an online service that makes them easy to play with other people as a “socially engineered cultural phenomenon”. hopefully it makes playing resistance 2 more enjoyable for you.

  2. #2 by ehandlr on October 7th, 2008 [ 44542 Points ]

    I personally could not get into Gears of War. I just didn’t like it. I played all the way through on coop….but meh.

    Nothing felt quite as fluid as Resistance multiplayer. I played it for days.

  3. #3 by Darrin on October 7th, 2008 [ 17143 Points ]

    rjcc, that is precisely the point that the Bonus Round panel is making.

    Actually not quite. No one is saying that Gears was a piece of junk that people bought because of some ads. No one can do that. Gears was a great game, and clever marketing took it from being just another great game on the market and turned it into a bigger cultural phenomenon.

    And I’m not taking any of this out of context or misquoting. That is exactly the point that all three panel members are making.

  4. #4 by Stephen on October 7th, 2008

    I couldn’t really agree with it.

    Gears is really different. Just the fact that it has a 3rd person camera is already a huge change for me. Gears feels more like Resident Evil 4 style of action game to me. It is something I really appreciate. I just can’t get into FPS like resistance.

  5. #5 by Mike on October 7th, 2008

    They’re right about how well the game is going to sell. Microsoft has turned this into their “other Halo” for alternate years that they probably hoped Brute Force was going to be back on the original Xbox. R2 doesn’t really stand a chance in terms of sales, the user base size alone assures Gears will sell more, and to be honest, Little Big Planet is actually Sony’s most important game this fall.

    The marketing and hype will probably make Gears one of the top sellers of the year along with GTA4 and COD5.

    R2 should be aimed at having a long tail. It’s going to be the most comprehensive online shooter out on the PS3 for the foreseeable future, and whenever Sony gets around to cutting the price again, they should market the game along with it. Right now they should focus on making LBP a crossover hit.

  6. #6 by Rjcc on October 7th, 2008 [ 490 Points ]

    I don’t understand what point you think you’re making by trying to dismiss people who have fun playing xbox games as merely succumbing to a cultural phenomenon while ps3 gamers are, something else?

    sure the gears marketing campaign helped raise awareness of the product, but where does that connect to “xbox-centric media tastemakers”?

  7. #7 by Pc on October 7th, 2008

    The major difference between these two titles is that Resistance 2 is actually doing things that have never been done on a console before and also keeping things good (not changing things to piss fans off). Gears 2 is just a revamped extension of an old game :) That’s my opinion, and i believe that what i said is correct :) What i just said is exactly what everybody else does….they give their opinion and think they are correct, but in this case, Resistance 2 is the only game that is truly pushing the envelope. That’s not a biased opinion, that’s fact !

  8. #8 by darrin on October 7th, 2008

    My point is that it is surprisingly telling that prominent fans of Gears 2, such as the Bonus Round members, who have that title proudly at the top of their list of holiday must-play games, completely agree that the draw of the game isn’t innovation or quality but brand identity and a popular bandwagon to jump on.

    I’m not dismissing Xbox fans at all. Sorry, I’ll keep this kind of thing toned down in future posts.

  9. #9 by Gabe Dowie on October 8th, 2008

    To be fair, the context of what you wrote is mostly what matters. This is a PS3 blog, and a display of bias against a 360 exclusive just sends off a bunch of alarms.

    That being said, I think gears is as successful as it is because it does what it does better than anything else. I’ve always felt like the game didn’t look realistic, but instead looked like a bunch of super expensive action figures.

  10. #10 by Pungyeon on October 8th, 2008

    Well, let’s have a look:

    Halo, everyone says “Best Game Ever” while it’s an FPS with an intriguing story (apparently), matel weapons and some graphics that lacked behind so many games. Anyhow, every consumer believed that it was superior in every aspect *cough* gametrailers…..

    And Gears?

    Isn’t Gears just another one of these macho-ass space marine killing alian-shooters? The only innovation I’ve heard to come from gear is “We’ve improved the graphics as well as physics engine”….

    So, it’s obviously a perfect 10.

  11. #11 by The Claw on October 8th, 2008

    Darrin, do not, I repeat, do not “tone down” your posts. You have no obligation to please everyone and there is obviously something that’s more interesing about this article than a shallow debate on the quality of Gears of War.

    I think this is a great article because it points out the key element in the downfall of the gaming media over the past couple of years; the “corporate hivemind”. These days corporations have the power to dictate their game’s popularity and even it’s review score simply by throwing piles of advertising dollars behind it. Ironically, I’m sure Jeff Gerstmann knows all about that.

    The big league gaming sites such as IGN and Gamespot are so clearly controlled by advertising dollars that it’s laughable and despicable. Every time a new big budget game comes out those sites literally becoming covered in ads for said game and they always seem to have some sort of a “Launch Center” with a panel of “experts” flailing their jaws and grunting favorable nonesense in hopes that the master will provide them with a favorable allowance.

    The really tragic thing about all of this is that advertising dollars and numerical scoring systems have essentially killed off the written review. No one reads the wall of text when they can clearly see that the game got a “9″, and that it’s wickedly popular because it’s ads have encased all websites from top to bottom.

    The hivemind mentality of the major sites is the exact reason people retreat to undergound sites like PS3Blog. Keep up the good work, Darrin.

  12. #12 by Rjcc on October 8th, 2008 [ 490 Points ]

    here’s the problem, you did misquote them. They in no way said or implied gears was the bigger game because of marketing. They never said “gears never was very original”.

    Only pachter said that microsoft’s marketing would help gears become an even bigger event than it already would be, and he’s the only one who says “it’s not that different”. no one else said anything like that, and that, plus the “never was” that only you heard is the basis of this post. pachter doesn’t say gears is going to be the one game he plays through because of marketing, and not becuase it’s a “socially engineered cultural phenomenon”.

    the other panelists specifically mention their impression that resistance is much more of the same in terms of shooters that came before it, and that’s why they think it won’t push systems for sony.

    resistance doesn’t do enough to make its case as a game worth buying a system for, and since you apparently agree with the panel, I don’t see why they’re any more 360-centric than you are for saying so.

  13. #13 by Pc on October 8th, 2008

    If you ask me, yeah sure…Gears has some good graphics and is pretty fun. The problem is that it actually doesn’t do anything really different, except the way you run and the cover system! Resistance on the other hand, does sooo many things that no game has done before (even the first one, which was a launch title!). Those include…..MANY enemies on screen all shooting, thinking, and reacting to what you do at the same time, plus alot of other things going on. Also, those bodies would even stay on the ground after you kill them (that’s nice cuz they don’t just dissapear right before your eyes). Many more things….Huge boss battles….A shit load of different weapons all with secondary firing methods……60 players online……8 player co op…and also great graphics ! It has everything that a fps should have….. and yes, i do know that Gears is a third person shooter.

  14. #14 by darrin on October 9th, 2008

    Wow, Claw, thanks so much. The support is very much appreciated.

    However, I disagree on one main thing: I think it’s better to keep a positive focus and talk about the games that you love rather than bash the games you hate. There are tons of popular games I don’t like (including many prominent PS3 exclusives), but I know lots of people genuinely like them and I don’t want to rain on their parade. Same thing with Gears. People like rjcc and Gabe love that game and why should I insinuate that they are corporate mind-controlled drones for enjoying that?

    Some negativity and criticism is important though. If you go to a classical music concert, most audiences will politely clap and smile even if the music is horrible. That’s when you know that a form of expression is dead.

    I admit that I completely blew my postitive-focus rule here, but I’m not perfect. Also, I think it’s very post-worthy, that here a group of influential media people, who are all really excited about one of the most heavily hyped games of the decade, yet despite this being at the top of all of their wish lists, everyone more or less agrees that this isn’t very innovative or different from the competition.

    rjcc, you really think I’m misquoting? Pachter clearly said this game isn’t substantially different from the competition and the sales and the buzz is all about Microsoft *making* it work with overwhelming advertising and branding. There was absolutely no disagreement. Also, look at Shane’s quote in the OP: he said that he wasn’t a fan of Gears 1 online, but got really into it just because everyone else was playing it rather than because the game was particularly good. And everyone was dismissive of Resistance, but no one cited problems with gameplay or with technology, they criticized it’s lack of identity (marketing) and weaker PS3 user base, and the PS3′s price.

  15. #15 by The Claw on October 9th, 2008

    Darrin, I think gamers are generally innocent in regards to the corporate hivemind. Stating that publishing companies partnered with media outlets are capable of massive influence isn’t meant to insinuate that gamers are “controlled” by them. It’s meant to insinuate that such partnerships have the power create widespread awareness which undeniably influences gamers’ purchasing decisions (“influence” being the key word there). I mean, you couldn’t add up on a calculator the amount of people who post in forums complaining about how a big budget game disappointed them because it “didn’t live up to the hype”. Well, where’s all that hype come from? It comes from publishing companies and the media.

    Take your last comment for instance. In it you said: “And everyone was dismissive of Resistance, but no one cited problems with gameplay or with technology, they criticized it’s lack of identity (marketing)”. That’s precisely what I’m talking about. The only things these media outlets are concerned with are hype, awareness, and PR. Consideration for technology, gameplay, and innovation is at the rear of their mindset because those aren’t the topics that put cash in their pockets.

    That’s why I choose to visit this site, because I enjoy the honesty of it’s contributors. And while I know you want to play it nice Darrin, I think you’re at your best when your inner cynic takes the controls. Sure, you might stir up a beehive from time to time but you can’t let a few stings change your perspective.

  16. #16 by Gabe Dowie on October 9th, 2008

    Hey, I don’t like gears much at all. It’s very much a “rental” game in my mind.

    I believe that gears 2 will sell because gears 1 was such a graphical juggernaut, with well above average gameplay. I mean, if you were to play a macho-space-marine shooter, that’s just the best one.

    Here’s how I look at it : Lets say R2 and Gears 2 are equals and interchangeable. The PS3 is $399 and the 360 is $199, and you have to pick. 360 will win every time, because of the $200 difference.

    If you think about it like that, it makes sense that sony is placing so much of their focus into LBP.

  17. #17 by Pungyeon on October 10th, 2008

    Hey,

    Anyone who thinks that Gametrailers aren’t xbox 360 biased, watch episode 27 of Invisible Walls.

    They said they’ve been ‘nice’ after saying “You know, Little Big Planet is okey… it’s creative, but the controls are bad.”

    And then everything else is pretty much “OMGZ GAIS, U R MUST BAI XBOX”

    It’s just disgusting.

  18. #18 by Darrin on October 11th, 2008 [ 17143 Points ]

    Claw, hilarious! I love that spirit. BTW, I don’t make a dime off of this site (Henning makes a small amount off of ads). I just enjoy chatting about my favorite hobby and comments like these are the main incentive :)

    Gabe, I think you overestimate the impact of price. It definitely matters, but most consumers don’t just think “hey, I want a game system, I’m completely undecided on which so I’ll just go bargain shopping and find the best deal”. Something has to grab them and make them want to buy it. For example, tons of parents hear about the Wii, and think, “I just have to get this for my kids”. They don’t care about the price of the 360/PS3, because they don’t want those systems. This is why the Wii will continue to outsell the 360, even though the 360 now has a lower entry point.


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