Why you're actually playing as the bad guys in Gears Of War

Gears Of War 2 is going to be great, right? Huge battlefields comprising hundreds of warriors. New levels of devastation that genuinely elevate things to the state of all-out war. A truly, truly epic fight for the future of the planet. It absolutely cannot fail to be fun.

But before you get ready to dive into all of that, there are a few things you should be aware of. Things that just don't come up during the first game's vague "Here are the bad guys, kill them all" exposition. You see Gears Of War actually has a hell of a lot of backstory, most of which didn't make it into the game itself. And when all things are taken into account, that war you're going to be reveling in in November really isn't what you might think it is.

Brave humans battling valiantly for the bright future of their world against a soulless alien horde? Not at all. Arrogant human invaders trying vainly to maintain their stranglehold on an abused and suppressed planet. That's more like it. Read on to find out why we've been playing the bad guys all along.

The human race are planet-raping colonials

Think about this. Gears Of War is set on the planet Sera, not Earth. All of the protagonists look human and have American accents, inherently meaning that they are of Terran descent. Which means that Sera was colonised by the human race at some point in the game's distant past. Which in turn means that any negative actions they've perpetrated against the planet - and as we're about to detail, there are quite a few - are made doubly transgressive by the fact that they've essentially invaded an innocent world and f*cked it right up through their own hedonistic wants and arrogance.

How many groups and nations have done similar things throughout real human history and how many of them are exactly popular now?

The humans weren't satisfied with one world war, so they had another

Although Gears' backstory isn't properly detailed throughout the first game, a little fishing reveals that the human race's time on Sera has largely been spent being childish pricks. You'd think that the crap we've pulled on Earth over the last century alone would have made the human race want to make a fresh start given a shiny new planet to live on, but no. They just saw it as a big blank canvas to really go to town on, having had more than enough practice in the past to get pretty damn good at the old killin' business.

According to 'Destroyed Beauty', the art book released with the Gears special-edition, Sera had been plagued with human war for millennia before the Locust ever set foot on the surface. That means that Gears is set a SERIOUSLY long time into the future, and that in all of that time humanity hadn't managed to develop past its violent instincts one jot. By that point, you'd have expected the human race to have evolved into benevolent beings made of pure energy, light and Brian Eno music, but unfortunately not. They're still just great big twats.

Of course, the human race of Gears did eventually get its shit together and live in peace for a while, but even then it took the threat of armageddon to give it the necessary slap in the face. And how did they celebrate? By starting another, seventy-nine year war. Over a gooey natural energy source. But of course, it was gold and called Imulsion, making the conflict TOTALLY different from our current international war-mongering over oil reserves. Oh yes, we HAD moved on.

The Gears are the tools of an oppressive, right-wing regime

According to 'Destroyed Beauty', The Coalition of Ordered Governments (Cera's ruling party and bestower of COG orders) was an obscure political party during the near eighty years of the Pendulum Wars. It only really rose to dominance when the catastrophic Locust attack of Emergence Day made the human population desperate for radical leadership. Seeing the same opportunity spotted by more than one real-world human dictator, the COG stepped up.

Thus, the Fortification Act was introduced, reacting to the extremely dire circumstances with the activation of emergency legislative powers for the ruling party, a temporary, legal loss of civil liberties and the introduction of martial law. Those same political tactics have been enjoyed by such luminaries as Emperor Palpatine and Adolf Hitler. And look how they turned out.

Humanity's last, best hope? Yeah right.

The Locust are in no way the bad guys

Sera's subterranean residents might be intent on seeing "every last man, woman and child dead", but can you really blame them? As the indigenous people of Sera, they tolerated the arrival of the surface-dwelling humans and quietly co-existed for a very long time, seemingly happy to let the new neighbours have the sunlight while they maintained their own natural habitat. It took thousands of years of planet-razing war, an invasion of their underground domain, the reaping of their Imulsion resources and yet another petty human war of greed before they made a stand. The fallout may have been brutal, but up until that point the Locust had showed remarkable restrained, all things considered.

Despite their bloody retribution, these are an intelligent, evolved people, as evidenced by their societal organisation and well-developed technology. The Gears might find it convenient to see them as feral nightmares from the deep, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yeah, they look pretty damn ugly by human standards, but let's not forget that making assumptions of character based on outer appearance is one of the cornerstones of basic racism, after all. And while the Locust troops we encounter in the game appear to be angry, single-minded killers, don't Marus and co. very probably appear the same to them?

Gears lore states that all attempts at peaceful negotiation with the Locust met with violence, but with several THOUSAND years of almost unfailing, selfish, aggressive human behaviour as a track record, their distrust and unwillingness to interact with our species is entirely understandable. In their position, we'd feel exactly the same way.

Humanity reacted to the Locust 'invasion' by wiping out 90% of the planet

Of course, the Locust didn't actually invade at all. They just made a stand against an outside force which had proven itself to be nothing but an unrelenting threat to their home. But when the humans realised that all hope for a victory was lost, what did they do? Cut their losses and retreat? Accept the consequences of their ceaseless stupidity and start making plans for evacuation to another planet, vowing never to make the same mistakes again?

No, they made the belligerent and petulent move of holing up on the impenetrable ground of Jacinto Plateau and using orbital weapon technology to decimate the rest of Sera, scorching Locust and human straggler alike. Humanity wiped out 90% of Sera's surface that day, and who knows how many of its own kind. Talk about taking your ball home because you're losing the match.

The COG's last 'victorious' act achieved nothing but prove once and for all that the Locust were right. The human species, to paraphrase The Matrix's Agent Smith, was naught but a malignant virus upon the planet's surface from the moment it arrived.

Remind us again, what exactly are we fighting for here?

Gears of War 2: Experts weigh in
First thoughts and theories from your favorite OXM and GamesRadar editors

The Top 7... alien invasions
Get ready to get your ass handed to you by a twisted menace from across the galaxy... seven times over


  • D0CCON - March 21, 2011 9:32 p.m.

    I am so hoping that Gears 3 blows everybody's minds (excluding those who agree with this) and say that the humans were the bad guys the whole time. That would be amazing. Has a game ever done that before? I'm certain that no game played by drunken 21-year-olds has.
  • CorvusCorvidae - September 14, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    Spec Ops: The Line did a pretty good job communicating the idea that the war Walker and his crew were fighting was all for nothing but the entertainment of the player, expressing the fact or theory that the player is actually someone so desensitized to violence that they are willing to proceed with mass slaughter which in the end has no meaning beyond the entertainment we got from it (or the broken controllers when trying to beat those last stages on the 'FUBAR' Difficulty).
  • whitesall - August 17, 2010 6:02 a.m.

    in gears 2 dont they tell you humans made locust
  • Cwf2008 - October 28, 2009 5:57 a.m.

    Picture of Hiroshima after we nuked it: "This does NOT mean that you have won". Lol
  • n00bkiller56 - December 10, 2008 11:15 p.m.

    A very good article.When I played gears 2 I noticed that The COG hides A LOT from the actual solidiers of the COG.I think that the COG has blinded the solidiers into thinking it's just Locust are homicidal evil monsters and humans are the goodguys.Thank you for this article. I also wonder,how old is that outpost in the Gears 2,and the sires inside of it? Thank you for this article GR
  • BlueBasher - December 1, 2008 12:47 a.m.

    Gosh, I wish I had the source that told me these people were from EARTH and had AMERICAN accents that belong with the VERY American names for their countries, like the ones they mentioned in Aspho Fields.
  • EdwinJ85 - November 30, 2008 2:03 p.m.

    Good article, but I disagree with it. If humanity had come to Sera from earth through space why would our technology 1000 years AFTER that still be so basic and close to the technology we have now? Even in Halo Earth has much better tech than what you see in gears. Also, the Locust are ALSO bad guys. We may be bad, but any race that does NOT sue for peace when begged to or at least WARN people when they intend to kill 50% of their population are not very nice. Even the IRA used to warn people sometimes before bombs went off. If they really wanted humans to leave, they wouldn't be trying to make sure we are ALL dead. They just want to kill us - there are much better ways to protect a planet. Collapsing whole cities isn't a way to protect the environment either, nor us utilizing the kryll a good way to protect wildlife. Finally, if humans could travel into space why would they flee to Jacinto instead of space? How come they haven't called for more troops from earth yet or more resources? It's obvious that Earth isn't part of the picture just like it wasn't in Star Wars. The humans of Sera have nothing to do with earth and don't know about it. They wouldn't have used satellites to destroy the surface if they could just call for more troops.
  • TheKitchenSink - November 10, 2008 4:15 a.m.

    That Mitchell and Webb Look FTW.
  • thel3g3ndkillr - October 30, 2008 3:38 a.m.

    WOW! You can tell a liberal wrote this, if you even listen to what the game designers say the locust just emerged. And even if this was true...why would the locust have guns and giant war machines (brumaks) if they weren't already going to attack, maybe the COG just speeded up the process, and seriously, i don't give a damn if the Gears are the "bad guys" i'm still going to kick some locust ass even if you are whining about Gears being the bad guys, just play the damn game, am i the only sensible gamer out here, and i hate people who try to make the game more than it was meant to be. So all you who agree with this guy are duschnozzles!
  • bloodstainedwolf - October 22, 2008 4:42 a.m.

    Wow. I've often thought "what if this' or 'what if that" but i really want to know if the humanity just used the Locusts plants and started a war with them or if it was another reason. I want to pre-order the game and get the "Destroyed Beauty artbook.
  • Darkdraak21 - October 11, 2008 12:45 p.m.

    ok if humans landed on Sera then wouldnt they have space ships they could board and then leave the planet on once the Locust came out?
  • Avery2300 - September 13, 2008 2:30 a.m.

    That was a great article, everything you said sounded like it was the actual plot of the game. I always thought the game took place on earth.
  • Marioninja1 - September 11, 2008 9:05 p.m.

    Hmm Damn, Marcus seems like a douchebag now,, still gonna play Gears 2 now, since I didn't have a 360 when the first came out and I couldn't find it anywhere
  • BurntToShreds - September 8, 2008 3:34 a.m.

    Something along the lines of "They can't understand why we can't this war."
  • Uncivilmaxis - September 8, 2008 12:40 a.m.

    Hmm that's a really good point I always wonder what that locust at the end of Gears of war meant by what she said, does anybody remember what she says when the game ended?
  • primeelfkilla - September 7, 2008 11:31 p.m.

    wow a truely well executed article for empowering gammers thoughts to a higher level of understanding greenies whom stand for protection of our planet and its resources has also an extreme right wing movement whom go to far in their attempt to get their message across maybe the locast is also on the extreme edge
  • rulerofu - September 7, 2008 5:50 p.m.

    This is a funny article, but you sound like Code Pink for the locust. "Sera's subterranean residents might be intent on seeing 'every last man, woman and child dead', but can you really blame them?" Sure every terrorist would love to see every infidel dead: but who can blame them? And for the cost of a small coffee you can ensure that a Locust child will receive the food and medical care he/she needs.
  • internetwinner - September 7, 2008 2:40 p.m.

    @FancyRat But what if that happens in GoW2?
  • 2pricey - September 7, 2008 2:07 p.m.

    then why in the begining of gow us see paris and maybe the locust just call earth sera and if the humans were loseing the war why not leave and why does the colonel say "our world" in the end.
  • DarthCylon - September 7, 2008 4:40 a.m.

    To Eleazar1914, Here is a quote from Hitler: "...the suspicion was whispered in German Nationalist circles that we also were merely another variety of Marxism, perhaps even Marxists suitably disguised, or better still, Socialists... We used to roar with laughter at these silly faint-hearted bourgeoisie and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our intentions and our aims. "

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