XBOX 360 and Gears of War

A Postmodern Dialog

INT: PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - DAY

An upscale office. The desk is wooden, the chairs are leather.
Pictures of dead people on the walls, two diplomas.

DOC is sitting behind the big desk, razor thin reading glasses threaten
to fall off his nose. He holds an immaculate yellow pad and a Mont
Blanc fountain pen.

RABBIT enters. His hair is slicked back. 40, balding, black jeans and
black T-shirt. Starbucks in his hand. In silence, he walks over to the
leather fainting couch, lies down, and stares at the ceiling.

He closes his eyes, squinting.

RABBIT
Thanks for seeing me Doc.
DOC
You seemed distressed when you called. You know I don't usually see patients on Sundays.
RABBIT
I know, I know. You told me that when I was getting off the ... A beat, RABBIT closes his eyes again.
DOC
Say it. It's the only way to keep getting healthy.
RABBIT
... the WoW.
DOC
Good. Good. You're doing well. So what's the problem? Is it your mother? CUT TO: CLOSE UP, RABBIT
RABBIT
Oh give it a rest doc, it's NEVER about my mother.
beat
No, it's ... it's a game again. Shot lingers then CUT TO: MEDIUM SHOT DOC winces, removes his glasses, pinches his nose, sighs.
DOC
Oh Julian. I thought we'd worked past this.
RABBIT
I know, I know. But really, this time it's different. I ... I bought a 360.
DOC
Tell me about this "360."
RABBIT
Come on Doc, how long have I been coming here? How many times have I talked about the consoles? DOC flips a few pages back on the yellow pad, scanning the lines lazily.
DOC
Ah yes. This is November. You've been worrying about November 2006 for some time now. The 360? This is one of the things that have been causing you so much stress? So you decided then?
RABBIT
No, no DOC. That's the PS3 and the Wii. This is the old one. It's been out forever.
DOC
Interesting. So after spending so much time and thought in the horns of your dilemma, you have chosen to step away from the bull. Lateral thinking. How do you feel about this? A pause draws on into an awkward silence. CUT TO: CLOSE UP, DOC Doc stares intently at RABBIT. He is motionless. CUT TO: CLOSE UP, RABBIT
RABBIT (Staring straight up)
Weak. I feel weak. I feel like a traitor. CUT TO: MEDIUM SHOT
DOC
A traitor? What have you betrayed?
RABBIT
Everything Doc. I'm a PC guy. It's part of who I am. For years I've just laughed at all those kids playing their shooters on consoles. I didn't get it at all. It didn't even make sense.
DOC
Go on ...
RABBIT
But this time, I decided it was time to jump in.
DOC
Right, the next gen. You said it was going to be different.
RABBIT
And it should be. There's all sorts of cool stuff about the new consoles. I'd saved some money aside ...
DOC
Yes, we'd talked about the money. You were thinking of saving it towards something healthier ...
RABBIT
I know I know, like I said, I'm weak.
DOC
Not weak Julian, just a little confused ... Go on.
RABBIT
So anyway. I thought I'd made up my mind. I was going to get a Wii, because, yaknow, it's not just a weak PC -- it's different. It'd be stuff I couldn't play on my PC, and maybe my kids would play it ...
DOC
You have to own your decisions Julian. You can't keep using your kids to justify your behavior. I thought we went through this when you bought that ...
(flips through the yellow pad)
... Nintendo DF? SMASH CUT TO: CLOSE UP, RABBIT
DOC (Bolting upright)
DS! It's a DS! DUAL SCREEN! Are you even paying attention? And I'll have you know my daughter plays with it too.
(Beat)
But as I was saying, I was going to buy the Wii, and save what I had left for upgrading my computer next year. But then I saw the trailer for Gears and ...
(cradles his head in his hands)
... I just had to have it. CUT TO: MEDIUM SHOT
DOC
We've spent a lot of time in here talking about your impulse control. You'd been feeling much more in control lately, no? Since the the guitar heroin?
RABBIT
GUITAR HERO, it's GUITAR HERO. Yes, I recognize that spending $200 on one game was ridiculous, but I don't regret it. And that's the thing, I don't regret this either.
DOC
What exactly did you DO?
RABBIT
Aren't you even listening to me? I was all set to move on, and instead, I saw a trailer for this new game, Gears of War, and I just had to have it. I'd kind of wanted a 360 all along, and this just put me over the edge.
DOC
Does Jessica know? RABBIT chuckles, manic.
RABBIT
Know? Know?? She drove to Walmart and bought it for me! All of it! The console. The game. The fiddly bits. DOC sighs.
DOC
Julian... I just don't know ... This kind of enabling ...
RABBIT
It's not her fault. She loves me. Poor woman. CUT TO: LONG SHOT Beat.
DOC
So, tell me about it. How do you feel about it now that it's in your house, in your life? CUT TO: OVERHEAD SHOT, LOOKING DOWN ON RABBIT RABBIT's eyes glaze over, a smile overtaking his face.
RABBIT
It's amazing. The 360 itself, it's just perfect. I mean, it's SO much better than I thought it would be. I expected it to be pretty. But I just had no idea how good the rest of it would be. It just works. Everything about it just ... right. The way it looks, the way it feels. It's just ... perfect ... and ...
DOC (Interrupting)
Nothing's perfect Julian. You said this about your PCP too.
RABBIT
PSP! PlayStation Portable! God!
DOC
My point is just that you've said this before Julian.
RABBIT
I know, I know. And I know it's not really perfect. People say they die. That they get too hot. That multiplayer get wonky. But I don't care Doc. It just works. And the games! There's so much stuff there that's just FREE. All these demos. I spent two days just playing demos. And the people. It's so easy to find them, to talk to them. I feel so there, like I'm part of a family, a team. CUT TO: RABBIT POV DOC takes his glasses off.
DOC (flustered)
A FAMILY? Julian, has it occurred to you that your pathological need to connect to people online is just a coping mechanism for your self-induced confinement in your BASEMENT? CUT TO: DOC OVER THE SHOULDER
RABBIT (Not listening)
And it was there all this time. I was avoiding it. I was feeling all superior. And I didn't even know. Everyone told, me. I just didn't believe. And you ...
(Eyes snap to DOC)
... you! You tried to keep me from it! You told me to stay away!
DOC
It's a GAME Julian, a machine, disassociated voices at the end of a telephone. It's not real! NONE OF IT! CUT TO: MEDIUM SHOT Beat. RABBIT chuckles, unfazed.
RABBIT
Oh Doc, I feel sorry for you.
(laughs)
You just have no idea. You haven't seen Gears. If I thought the 360 was perfect, I really wasn't prepared for Gears.
DOC
Gears? On a computer?
RABBIT
Gears of War. It's a game. It's more than a game. It's THE game. It's ... I mean ... it's just perfect. There's just nothing wrong with it, and everything right.
DOC
A game. I'm sick of your games. I ... I'm sorry Julian. I can't keep doing this. CUT TO: OVER THE SHOULDER - DOC - DOWN AT THE DESK DOC reaches into his desk and pulls out a checkbook. Shivering, he starts writing a check.
RABBIT
What are you doing?
DOC
I'm refunding your money. I think I've only made you sicker.
RABBIT
Doc, don't you see? CUT TO: OVER THE SHOULDER - DOC - AT RABBIT I've been playing tactical games since I was 10. I'm not saying it's a noble cause, but it's just part of me. Part of who I am. I played in photon leagues, I played paintball. I nearly killed myself in Taekwando and hitting guys in armor with big sticks, 1,000 on a side. I've fenced and played chess and wargames and touch football. Counter-Strike, Battlefield. I think I've done it all. And this is it. It's the best. It's the real deal Doc. CUT TO: MEDIUM SHOT DOC rips the check from the ledger. He looks at RABBIT, tired.
DOC
A game.
RABBIT
A game, yes, but maybe a perfect game. It's pretty, it's new. It's exciting. But it's more than that. Everything about it is there for a reason, and it's all good. Every sound, every reflection. The mood's just right. The movement, perfect. The sense of urgency, imminent danger. It's all completely tuned. It's as good as it gets, but it doesn't even matter. Because here's the thing. In Gears, I matter. It's not a big game, it's a small game. It's 4 on 4. And when I'm in a squad, what I do really, really matters.
DOC
But does it? Does it really? CUT TO: TIGHTER SHOT RABBIT stands. He walks over to the desk. He looks down on DOC.
RABBIT (Pedantic)
I don't expect you to understand. I've spent a lifetime in search of this. You've spent a lifetime living other people's lives. The whole point of these things is to make a difference. When I'm in there, with other guys, even though I suck I want to know that I was there for a reason, that I had a plan, and that whether I did what I set out to do matters. And in Gears, it's all real. Teammates calling position. Coordinating flanking maneuvers. Laying down suppressing fire. Smoke. Tactical choices about speed vs. protection. It's all there. It's better than chess. It's better than fencing. It's better than all of it. DOC looks up at RABBIT. Tears start to form in his eyes.
DOC
Oh Julian, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I failed you.
RABBIT
Don't be Doc. I think I'll be fine. I need to work on getting some sleep, sure. I mean I'm 15 hours in on this thing and it's less than a week old. But I'm doing just fine. CUT TO: MEDIUM SHOT RABBIT turns to walk out of the room. Pauses. He turns back and picks the check up off the desk.
RABBIT
But I'll take the check. I need some five-dot-one headphones. RABBIT leaves the room, leaving us back at the establishing shot. Doc sits motionless, staring into space. FADE TO: BLACK

Comments

Wait ... your wife is Jessica Rabbit?

Brilly-anse!!!! Shear brilly-anse goddamit!!! You're making me wanna go get a 360 and the GoW too!!

P.S. It's Taekwondo, you ITF mongrel, TAEKWONDO!!!

Rabbit, I think that is your best work yet.

Great piece. Great.

A buddy of mine has a 360 (doesn't do XBL, though) so I've gone over his house and played GoW SP. It IS fun. Too fun, dammit. Hell, LAST night I went over and he had rented Dead Rising. I got to play that as well. Brutal. Brutally fun, that is. And brutally hard on my willpower, arrrrggghh.

I'm feeling more and more tempted to get a 360 for these two games...haven't done it yet, but will is...weakening.

...wow!

I would like to make the first bid for the international movie rights.

You know I have to say that I really didn't care much for this one. WAY too long. I stopped reading before you actually got to the review I guess. I thought the prespectives were supposed to be short reviews more of how it felt when you played it. It was just too long and reading it like a script got annoying for me.

Excellent read, Rabbit.

Eeexcellent

painthappens wrote:

You know I have to say that I really didn't care much for this one. WAY too long. I stopped reading before you actually got to the review I guess. I thought the prespectives were supposed to be short reviews more of how it felt when you played it. It was just too long and reading it like a script got annoying for me.

(souldaddy pulls out a rather large gun and blows painthappens' head off)

souldaddy wrote:
painthappens wrote:

You know I have to say that I really didn't care much for this one. WAY too long. I stopped reading before you actually got to the review I guess. I thought the prespectives were supposed to be short reviews more of how it felt when you played it. It was just too long and reading it like a script got annoying for me.

(souldaddy pulls out a rather large gun and blows painthappens' head off)

You know I expected to get something like that for my comment. Maybe I was just looking for something different than everyone else? but maybe others would also like short and sweet reviews as well?

Rabbit, if your wife's name isn't really Jessica, then that was a really funny, nice touch. Great article!

I bought Gears yesterday, and put in about 1/2 hour on the SP last night and played 1 2v2 last night with TheFly, Mr.Green, and PsychoKillerZ.

This morning I got up and played it some for before work. At one point, my fiancee called, and I told her I'd been playing it. She said it looked like Halo and Mercenaries, only not as good as Mercenaries. And interesting observation, because she's never played Mercenaries. In fact, the only previous emotion towards that game that I'm aware of was loathing, because of all the time I spent playing it.

So I explained to her how Gears of War, while being quite a bit like Halo, was nothing like Halo. The whole "cover" mechanic completely changes the game, and they really punish you for stepping out of cover for even a few seconds. I also really love the apocalyptic sci-fi setting. Everyone says that this kind of setting has been done to death, but I'm a huge sci-fi fan and I'm here to say that it hasn't. The only game that I've played that comes close to this is Fallout, and it has a very different flavor. Well, you could almost convince me that this game could be set in the same universe as Fallout, with the Cog soldiers being part of the Brotherhood of Steel.

Anyway, I love the setting. There are, to my tastes, not nearly enough good sci-fi games with original settings out there.

Brilliant. Just brilliant. No, it's not just brilliant!

You know I expected to get something like that for my comment. Maybe I was just looking for something different than everyone else? but maybe others would also like short and sweet reviews as well?

I point you to the dozens of impressions in the forums, you'll find what you need there if this isn't your style. Last I checked, most of them are bite-sized

painthappens wrote:
souldaddy wrote:
painthappens wrote:

You know I have to say that I really didn't care much for this one. WAY too long. I stopped reading before you actually got to the review I guess. I thought the prespectives were supposed to be short reviews more of how it felt when you played it. It was just too long and reading it like a script got annoying for me.

(souldaddy pulls out a rather large gun and blows painthappens' head off)

You know I expected to get something like that for my comment. Maybe I was just looking for something different than everyone else? but maybe others would also like short and sweet reviews as well?

No, no, I didn't mean it that way. You are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to pretend to blow your head off with a rather large gun It's just playin'

I think everyone knew what the tone would be like, but not the vehicle. Excellent review, rabbit.

Intense there! Nice great visuals. My older brother plays paintball and I think he spends more on it than I do on gaming. My spending is spread out, but he is always upgrading a gun or some other gadget. He's got a gun thats around $2k, and like 5 others too at various prices.

Paint:

I take absolutely no offense to your comments, so don't worry about me. I like the objective criticism as much as the butt pats. Sorry this one didn't tickle your fancy; I do know that scripts can be very hard on the reader, which is why I don't do them very often.

(Hits the (B) button)

Well I friggin loved it! Nicely done rabbit. I'll almost feel bad chainsawing you after reading this.

I thought the prespectives were supposed to be short reviews more of how it felt when you played it. It was just too long and reading it like a script got annoying for me.

Generally speaking, those who think of these strictly in terms of "reviews" are likely to be disappointed. Occasionally they may take that format, but we are exploring alternative ways of talking about games. We fully expect there to be a period of adjustment on both sides as the feature takes shape, and people learn what to expect.

That said, getting broad feedback does help.

No, no, no, I can't take anymore of this, this freakin site just keeps hammering away at my will power.

/mantra
I will not buy a 360 until a price drop, I will not buy a 360 until a price drop, I will...

Great read as usual Rabbit.

"Guitar Heroin" - classic.

Fun stuff rabbit.

You forgot to tell Doc about the neglect as a result of Gears, rabbit. Neglect of a little game called Half-Life 2 DM. That goes for all of you. You know who you are. But that's okay. Even if you feel guilty about cheating on your porcelain maiden and go on a sympathy date this Sunday, I won't be there. I'll be in the basement playing with my wii. After that, I'll move onto my new Nintendo.

I sold my PCP to get Gears and another game later in the season. I don't regret the decision.

tmembrino wrote:

"Guitar Heroin" - classic.

Indeed. DOC's malapropisms and RABBIT's passionate corrections were my favorite part, really.

Kudos.

tmembrino wrote:

"Guitar Heroin" - classic.

Fun stuff rabbit.

"PCP", too!

You had me at

The fiddly bits.

You're not crazy, the whole PC world's just insane man!

McChuck wrote:

I'll be in the basement playing with my wii. After that, I'll move onto my new Nintendo.

Sigged

rabbit wrote:

Paint:

I take absolutely no offense to your comments, so don't worry about me. I like the objective criticism as much as the butt pats. Sorry this one didn't tickle your fancy; I do know that scripts can be very hard on the reader, which is why I don't do them very often.

(Hits the (B) button)

I never meant to say it wasn't good. Just that I personally don't like long script like story/review/what ever you want to call these.

McChuck wrote:

Even if you feel guilty about cheating on your porcelain maiden and go on a sympathy date this Sunday, I won't be there.

Is somebody gonna show up this Sunday? I don't want to be alone in teamspeak.

I'm kidding. I'll be there. I've got the whole week off. Plenty of time to enjoy the new system. I just wanted to exclude the cool kids with their 360s and their chainsaws and secret handshakes. I do want one so bad though. And it doesn't help when rabbit jumps on teamspeak to let us know how great Gears is and he's not even aware of what day it is or where his pants are. Someday I'll be pantsless and owner of a 360. Someday.

rabbit wrote:

Sigged

Sweet. I think that's the first time I've been sigged. It's like the GWJ equivalent of a Bat Mitzvah. La kayim!