I hate when jaded game journalists mock 'Gears of War' and its sequel for not having a story. The last ‘1UP Yours’ podcast got me so frustrated I had to turn off my MP3 player. They came off sounding like the message board trolls who pick apart summer blockbusters, forgetting that the movie was actually fun. Yes, there is a story. It’s not Shakespeare. It’s not their beloved Japanese RPGs with ridiculous fem boys fighting over the soul of a planet. It is an epic, over-the-top, action sci-fi comic book style story in the tradition of 'Robocop' or 'Total Recall'. When I got the game I dived right into the campaign because I wanted to know what happened next. I loved the universe, the characters, and what it revealed without hitting you over the head. And on that subject, GoW2 continued hinting at a bigger back story that tickled the ‘Lost’ conspiracy fan in me.
Quick summary: After the Pendulum Wars, a long conflict amongst human factions over energy resources, an underground army of monsters emerged to attack. In a desperate attempt to stop from being overrun, the government turned its spaced based weapons on Locust occupied territory. It wrecked most of the world but failed to stop the Locusts as more emerged from below.
In the first game, players heard the Locust Queen say that the humans had no concept of who the Locust really were. That line stuck with me because I started thinking, ‘Are they the resurrected deceased, the original inhabitants of the planet Sera, or something else entirely?’ In the second game we got more clues.
- The game starts with revealing that prolonged exposure to emulsion, the energy source for Sera, causes a condition called Rust Lung in humans. Toxic stuff.
- The Locusts started abducting humans, torturing them, and bring them down below in metal coffins instead of outright killing them. To the point that tough guy Tai, killed himself after being rescued from their clutches. Why the change in tactics?
- There’s an abandoned COG base near the Kadar Mountains that the government is keeping hush-hush. Marcus and Dom speculate that it must’ve been a like a prison or a work camp during the Pendulum Wars, when the humans of the world fought over emulsion. But it seemed designed to keep people out instead of in.
- Deep inside the base we find creatures in stasis called Sires. The computers show that Marcus’ father studied them. This ties in with why his father had detailed schematics of Locusts tunnels on his home computer in the first game.
- Once underground, Delta Squad is surprised to find how massive and old the Locusts structures are.
- The soldiers find that there’s a conflict between regular Locusts and Lambent Locusts, a sub-species that have mutated due to long term exposure to emulsion. It makes them glow and potentially explosive.
So here’s what I’m speculating:
During the Pendulum Wars, the COGs discover an underground race that is dying out. Probably from something the humans are doing. Maybe from emulsion extraction, maybe from the wars. In any case, the obtain specimens. Marcus’ dad discovers that they’re resistant to toxic effects of emulsion. They’re too wild and violent to use as a workforce. But what if they experiment on prisoners of war? Gene splice them with the Sires. It wouldn’t do to have strong, pissed off laborers so the government authorizes prison work camps to break them of their will before undergoing the process. The Locusts are born!
They would’ve started slavery but then something happened. A queen arose to act as a group mind for the mindless brutes. They rebelled and escaped. The program was quickly shut down. They continued to breed and grow. Undergound. Waiting. Waiting for the moment when humanity was at its weakest. Like after a global war that had dragged on for years. They start their revenge on what is now known as Emergence Day.
The Locusts are resistant to emulsion effects but not immune to them. After a while, mutations start to occur – the Lambent Locusts. Like a cancer to this hive society, the Lambents must be destroyed. The war on two fronts, against the humans and Lambent, take its toll. The Locusts numbers have dwindled. The Locust Queen decides the best way to replenish and strengthen the genetic stock is to get some of the original source material. She orders Locusts to capture humans, break their will, and bring them below to be transformed into new, pure, uncorrupted Locusts.