Gears of War is a tactical Third-Person Shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios. By Word of God, gameplay emphasizes tactical maneuvers rather than More Dakka, and is the recent Trope Codifier for Take Cover-style gameplay, forcing you to shoot carefully and outflank as much as you can (though Regenerating Health makes it a little easier). There isn't a jump button and everything is angled towards making the combat as personal and violent as possible (the main gun used has a chainsaw built into the grip, called the chainsawbayonet). You can give your squadmates orders, but if one them goes down, you have to pick them up and get them back on their feet. Finally, there is an Active Reload system that buffs your damage output if you hit the right timing window but jams your gun if you mess up.The general story centers on the soldiers of Delta Squad as they fight to save the human inhabitants of the fictional planet Sera from a relentless subterranean enemy known as the Locust Horde. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) is fighting back with their own soldiers they call "Gears". The Locust are relentless, vicious, can pop out of the ground almost anywhere and seem to be numberless, but the COG have superior technology and the capital city of Jacinto is located on a plateau of solid granite, making it the one place the Locust can't tunnel up.The player assumes the role of Marcus Fenix, a battle-hardened former war hero. When in cooperative play, the second player takes control of Fenix's best friend and fellow soldier Dominic "Dom" Santiago. Alongside them are fellow soldiers from another squad who they seem to frequently join with: former pro athlete Augustus "Cole Train" Cole and smart-mouthed Damon Baird.Besides dealing with the humanoid footsoldiers there is a great deal of focus on monstrous creatures you have to face such as the dinosaur-like Brumak (with a cannon on its back and chainguns on each arm), the crab/spider-like Corpser and the "monkey-dog" Wretch. Alongside that, the games are about building atmosphere and drawing you into the moment, investigating abandoned warehouses and exploring a labyrinth of underground tunnels. These are not games to play in the dark.On the way, they do manly things like blowing stuff up, delivering one-liners and growing beards.
Gears Of War
Dominic Santiago: Welcome back to the army, soldier.
Marcus Fenix: Shit.
Released on November 12, 2006, the Locust Horde has been rampaging across the planet for about 14 years. Marcus Fenix was imprisoned for dereliction of duty four years earlier, but was pardoned when the Locust assaulted Jacinto Plateau and invaded the prison. Marcus was reinstated and assigned to Delta Squad alongside Dominic Santiago. His first assignment involves a priority mission to assist another group, Alpha Squad, to deploy a device that would help deliver a final strike against the enemy.The game was praised for its beautiful visuals and innovative gameplay system. The most common complaints were a dull color palette but most especially an uneven storyline.
Gears Of War 2
Marcus Fenix: This is it, Dom. This is everything we've been fighting for.
Dominic Santiago: Yeah, well Maria is everything I've been fighting for.
Released on November 7, 2008, the Locust re-emerge several months after the events of the first game, except more desperate and far more dangerous, while on the surface, many human refugees and Gears have fallen sick with a disease known as Rustlung, an Imulsion sickness. COG forces return to action in an attempt to make an assault on the enemy's home turf, while Dom embarks on a personal mission to find his missing wife Maria, putting him in conflict with his other responsibilities as a member of Delta Squad.The second game received similar accolades, with many complaints of the first game addressed. The graphics are better than ever, a larger weapon variety is given and the story is epic while more personal. However, it still holds many slight flaws, but that doesn't reduce the amount of fun there is in playing the game. The multiplayer set-up has also been cheered, with the new "Horde" mode receiving the most attention; while it didn't invent the concept, Gears 2 is the reason most shooters have a wave-based survival mode now.
Gears Of War 3
Augustus Cole: "Do you ever feel like you're dead, but nobody ever told you?"
Released on September 20, 2011, the ending of the second game has left both sides decimated, with Marcus and Delta Squad trying to keep their head down as there's no place left on Sera that is safe. AnyaStroud has joined the team as a soldier, Dom has grown a Beard of Sorrow and the approaching summer has the squad wearing lighter versions of their normal armor. The story picks up 18 months later when the COG leadership (what is left of it) approaches Marcus with some new discoveries about the Locust. Unfortunately, the Gears don't just have to contend with the Locust Horde: a new faction, the Lambent Locust, have emerged from the underground and are hostile to both sides.With the added benefit of a multiplayer beta to iron out the kinks (including dedicated servers), Gears of War 3 ended up the best reviewed of the trilogy with a very bright color palette, crisp visuals and fluid gameplay. A very full game release, it has a very long campaign where you can play with four characters at all times (including a co-op online arcade version), Horde Mode 2.0 (with some Tower Defense-like strategy), Beast Mode (a reversed Horde Mode where you play as Locust creatures attacking the COG), loads of features to track your gaming history and a single leveling system that works under all modes. The game was also built to be heavily modifiable, with a Downloadable Content pack called "RAAM's Shadow" containing an entire mini-campaign.
Gears of War: Judgment
Baird: ...To survive out there in the field, you have to know how to adapt. And I'm an adaptable man.
Released March 19, 2013. It is prequel from fifteen years before Gears of War with Baird taking over as the lead protagonist. The game focuses on his time as a lieutenant in Kilo Squad, with Augustus Cole and others under his command. In the tale, taking place early in the Locust War, the squad is accused of treason for stealing COG experimental technology on a mission. The game uses In Medias Res as Baird explains what they were doing and why, and along the way the campaign has various "Declassified" segments that adds a new wrinkle to the gameplay that are optional but provide a replay bonus along with a player competition. The characters are younger and (slightly) less cynical than what they later become, with a focus on the specifics of Baird and Cole's backstory that is only hinted at in the main games.The reveal trailer can be found here. Development was being outsourced to Epic's subsidiary studio People Can Fly, the makers of Painkiller and Bulletstorm. The gameplay was shifted up, as while Take Cover is still vital the speed of the characters is increased significantly and there is a more vertical factor with the maps. Multiplayer will get another new mode called "OverRun", a sort of Horde-meets-Beast mode-meets regular multiplayer, where you switch off between player teams of Locust creatures and COG soldiers with an objective goal and uses a class-based system. Horde Mode was technically removed but replaced with a new, related gametype called Survival, which integrates the same class based system as Overrun and introduces vital new objectives to maintain as you hold out for 10 waves.A film adaptation is currently in the works, though plagued with Development Hell, and the third game will be the last to feature Delta Squad. A series of comic books expand on the backstory and what happens between the games, alongside a collection of five novels.
Abnormal Ammo: Nemacysts are huge, flying, squid-like creatures who constantly vent toxic sludge, and are fired as flak or hunter-killer missiles from Seeder arthropods. The Ink/Smoker grenades are actually baby Nemacysts tied to a Bolo Grenade handle. The Digger Launcher in the third game fires a small burrowing creature which digs through the ground ignoring any cover in its path, popping out from the ground if there's any enemy in its trajectory then detonating itself.
Action Bomb: Several. Most Lambent enemies, as well as Reavers, explode upon death. Tickers are a straighter example, as they deliberately blow themselves up, though they appear to be outfitted with the bombs.
Locust Berserkers are really female Drones. They're far more dangerous and deadlier than the males and more feared by the Gears. They're also invulnerable until you hit them with an orbital bombardment or set them on fire.
In the third game, Anya has ditched her Mission Control role in order to fight on the battlefield with the male Gears, alongside another female gear, Samantha Bryne, as well as a veteran of the Pendulum Wars who fought with Colonel Victor Hoffman, Bernadette "Bernie" Mataki. Alicia Valera in "RAAM's Shadow" rounds out the gender ratio in Zeta Squad.
Judgement includes a new female Onyx Guard character model in addition to the Kilo Team member Sophia. By this time the Gears Of War series outnumbers almost any other shooter game franchise when it comes to named, story relevant female soldiers.
Adaptational Badass: In a variation, each succeeding Carmine in each game is more badass than the previous one, or at least lives longer. Clayton Carmine goes so far as to survive the entire game!
Adult Fear: All of the named characters have had family and friends, and some of them had children - and they all lost a great many of them on E-Day and during the war that followed.
Dom's life, especially, is practically made of this trope - after losing his brother and kids, the only thing that kept him going was the possibility of finding his missing wife, Maria. In 2, he does find her - after she had suffered years of torture, malnutrition, and lobotomization that drove her into irreversible insanity. The only way to save her is via Mercy Kill, which Dom has to personally deliver. Imagine crusading for years to find someone dear to you in the midst of a global warzone, only to be forced to kill them immediately afterward.
After the End: The visual design is built like this, the story is about what has to happen for something to beAfter the End. Before Emergence Day, human civilization endured the Pendulum wars. After about 85 years of destructive, sometimes nuclear war, Sera could be described as post-apocalyptic; the people left are just fighting for the ashes. Gears of War 3 embraces it in full, and it's likely to the point that even if the fighting stopped instantly there wouldn't be an infrastructure left to rebuild the civilization they once had.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Niles Samson's "semi-sentient security program", which is a little bit obsessed with cleaning up "filth"., though it doesn't seem to actively attempt to kill you, and even makes an effort to protect you by advising you not to mess around with the main computers, which wakes the Sires. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
All There in the Manual: The first game throws you right into the conflict with little elaboration. The opening cinematic doesn't play when you press start; it kicks in if you idle on the title menu, making a lot of eager gamers miss it altogether. The most comprehensive backstory detailing is in the concept art book that comes with the collector's edition. The key events that are not explained within the game involve: this is not Earth but a planet called Sera, the Pendulum Wars was a world-wide conflict over control over a super-fuel called Imulsion (started before the characters were born), Emergence Day was so devastating that the COG turned the Hammer of Dawn on their own cities just to fry the Locust and keep them at bay and leaving pockets of survivors called the Stranded.
Fortunately, the comics and novels are doing this job for everything, even to the point of introducing new characters. For those who haven't read those, Epic was nice enough to put a "Previously on Gears..." video in Gears of War 3, which describes the relevant events over all the games, books, and comics. The video doesn't, however, cover characters who were introduced in the comics and novels. In the end, though, Epic had to resort to posting explanations for some of the unanswered questions from Gears of War 3 on their official forums.
Alphabetical Theme Naming: Anthony Carmine, Benjamin Carmine, and Clayton Carmine. Since there are four Carmine brothers in total, the last one will most likely be D. Carmine.
Ambiguously Brown: Samantha looks vaguely Hispanic, but her accent is Claudia Black's own British/Australian mix. Otherwise the games are pretty good with being clear about various character's ethnicity.
In game, she's described as being Kashkuri, the in-universe equivalent to the Australian Aborigines.
Clayton Carmine can also say some kills are for his brothers Anthony and Benjamin.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Judgment offers Normal, Rare, and Epic prize boxes after a certain amount of enemy kills, ribbons attained, and levels gained respectively. Inside the prize boxes can be a little extra experience, weapon skins, or player armor skins.
Anyone Can Die: The games make an effort to introduce major characters and have them die along the way, as this is an unrelenting war. It was invoked by Cliff Bleszinski regarding Gears of War 3, as being the final game all bets were off and even the core characters were at risk.
Apocalypse How: Class 2 in the backstory. All major civilization is knocked out besides the COG and a few pockets of stranded civilians living in the ruins of cities. Gears of War 3 indicates that things are coming dangerously close to a Class 3. Firing Adam Fenix's superweapon at the end pushes it close to a Class 4, though some humans remain.
Armor Is Useless: In 3, there are unarmored skins of Marcus, Dizzy, Anya, Jace (campaign only), and one of Cole in Thrashball pads, who can take just as much damage as the armored COG characters and the rock-skinned Locust.
In the first game, combined with Suicidal Overconfidence: your A.I. teammates will often vault over a perfectly good piece of cover to charge straight into enemy fire, resulting in them being shot full of holes. Locust Drones also do this sometimes, but they can pull it off since they're Made of Iron, whereas your teammates are not.
By the second game the friendly A.I. has been vastly improved and can hold its own even without your help, and it's possible for you to sometimes play whole sections without expending a single round of ammo!
In the third game, during the fight with the Lambent Beserker at the point where it starts leaking Imulsion, the first thing Marcus says is to avoid said Imulsion. Your AI teammates will ignore this piece of advice and spend the rest of the fight walking into the Imulsion and screaming for help. Especially frustrating on Insane difficulty.
Ascended Extra: Of a sort, while not technically the same character the Carmine brothers through the three games have identical personalities and much more screentime in each installment.
Marcus...sort of. He's more concerned with proving himself a reliable soldier once more than trying to apologize.
Chairman Prescott in Gears of War 3 comes back after being AWOL for almost 2 years, and delivers the MacGuffin that gets the game going.
Adam Fenix is revealed to be like this, since he was the driving force of the Hammer of Dawn, which is what the COG used to scorch their own cities. Of course, he still ends up committing genocide in his attempts to atone, but he makes it very clear there was just wasn't enough time...
Adam: "Don't worry, I'm an old hand when it comes to weapons of mass destruction."
General RAAM personifies this trope. Skorge, a bit less so, but cutting a tank in half is still pretty badass.
Colonel Hoffman, to a lesser extent, as he's on the same level as the rest of Delta Squad, but when you consider how much of an achievement it is in this universe to even make it to your mid-thirties (Word of God has him at age 60 in Gears of War 3) and he's no coward or stranger to frontline fighting makes him pretty hardcore.
Marcus plays with this: prior to the games, he was a decorated soldier and war hero, but after abandoning his post to try and rescue his father, he gets sent to prison. At the start of the trilogy, he's technically only a private, though within an hour, he gets back up to sergeant.
Ax-Crazy: Anthony's very popular character for multiplayer, likely because of his very enthusiastic quotes while fighting, practically to the point of this trope. The tendency of many players to use the chainsaw bayonet at every possible opportunity also counts.
Badass: Pretty much every plot-important character.
Bad Boss: In Gears of War 3, Aaron Griffin is the former CEO of an Imulsion energy corporation, now the leader of a Stranded group taken up residence in the high rise Griffin tower. Within the campaign he talks a lot about keeping his "employees" safe and doesn't like the COG because they tend to bring the Locust war with them. But an in-game collectible carries a note from one of his Stranded members who comments that Griffin always refers to them as Employees, which many resent because they were obviously not getting health insurance anymore. Plus he largely kept the best stuff for himself (gold plated weapons can be seen in his office) and everyone was afraid of being chosen for the next near-suicidal Imulsion run.
Bald Black Leader Guy: Griffin in the third game. Former energy magnate, current ruler of a post-apocalyptic city, always ruthless.
Banned In Germany: The violence alone might have been enough, but the fact they built the COG's look and much of its ethos on the Third Reich must have cinched it. Averted with Gears of War 3, to the joy of German fans.
All of Delta Squad, but especially since cooperative play allows you to be Marcus and your friend be Dom.
In-universe, Baird and Cole were really tight before they ever met Marcus or Dom, and still are as far as can be seen.
Gears of War 3 takes this to the logical extreme, where there's four player co-op for the entire campaign.
Bayonet Ya: The third game features the "Retro Lancer", first-generation Lancers from the Pendulum Wars with much higher recoil and a heavy bayonet. The blade itself doesn't do much more damage in melee strikes than other weapons, but it allows for a nasty charge attack that can impale any regular infantry.
Beard of Sorrow: The new beard Dom's sporting in Gears of War 3 is this. In the "Ashes to Ashes" trailer, the way he just lies back and waits for the Drone to finish him off shows he doesn't give a shit about anything anymore since having to Mercy Kill his wife Maria. Overlaps with Death Seeker.
Naturally, Locust Berserkers. Your first time through the game, this creature is absolutely terrifying. The kicker? A Berserker's really a big, normal drone... only female.
Gears of War 3 introduces the Lambent Berserker. Everything that is makes the originals tough is there, only it is capable of surviving multiple Hammer of Dawn attacks, has tentacles that gives it a longer reach, will jump and land like an Imulsion bomb and eventually start leaving Imulsion trails and toxic vapors limiting your movement. All the while still screaming and rushing at you.
Cole has tendencies toward exhibiting a few traits, but is more in tune to the Boisterous Bruiser.
Gears of War: Judgment introduces the Ragers, a breed of locust who is normally visibly slimmer than regular drones and usually relegated to the role of mid-long range support using breechshot rifles....that is until they take enough damage to piss them off, at which point they drop their weapon and morph into a miniature version of a Berserker (still larger than a regular drone) and charge the player shrugging off considerable amounts of damage thanks to their newly armored skin while trying to rip anything non-locust to shreds bare handed. Some might ask "if Judgment is a prequel then where were the ragers during Gears of War 1 to 3?" Well apparently their tactics were so suicidal that they went nearly completely extinct. One has to wonder if they actually were "teenage" female locusts who had yet to reach full berserk maturity.
Ragers appear in Aftermath. They may have simply been retconned into the entire series. Several different types of Locust as well as a few weapons that did not show up until the second or third game have been in both Judgment and RAAM's Shadow, so we can assume this is the case for all of them.
BFG: Virtually every gun in the game is oversized, and it wouldn't do to list every gun that isn't a sidearm here, so we'll just list the most notable:
The Retro Lancer, (the one on the right) a rifle with a bayonet the size of a cutlass that looks like a hybrid of an FN-SCAR-H and an M60, which could double as a mounted machine-gun turret when a few are strapped together.
The Boomshot, an enormous grenade launcher with a 60mm bore that shoots grenades in four-round bursts.
The One-Shot, which can only be described as a sniper cannon.
The Mulcher and Vulcan Cannon, which are both man-portable miniguns.
Big Bad: Myrrah. Note that Epic Games use the term "Big Bad" to refer to the final bosses of each game (General RAAM in the first, and Skorge in the second), but they are more like Dragons in trope-speak.
Bigger Bad: Imulsion itself, which is really a single, planet-wide parasitic organism, and has, aside from causing the wars on the surface due to being a "miracle fuel" that every Seran wants, also forced the Locust to expand to the surface and ignited the Locust War with lambency.
The Command Center fortification for Horde 2.0 gives you the opportunity to call in support, starting with a quick sniper support and being able to upgrade through mortars and the Hammer of Dawn. Unsurprisingly it is quite satisfying to call in for help and see the screen light up with kills.
Bittersweet Ending: The second and third games feature victory and ultimately survival, but at a great cost. Myrrah is dead, the Lambent are destroyed for good, and the last stand of organized Locust falls, yet Marcus has lost his best friend Dom and his father Adam Fenix in the struggle. Cynically lampshaded by him in his final line of dialogue.
Black Dude Dies First: Although subverted and never stated outright, Marcus is seemingly paranoid of this in the first game. Every time he orders Delta Squad to split up, he never tells Cole to come with him. By the second game he appears to be over this and does have Cole come with him. In fact, Cole, Jace Stratton and Samantha, all dark-skinned people of color, make it out of the trilogy alive. Dom doesn't.
Blade Brake: General RAAM does one after falling from his first Reaver in RAAM's Shadow.
The fictional Thrashball is more tame than most examples, but it still requires players to wear some fairly heavy armor, and management discourages but does not ban acts like "accidentally" stomping on prone opponents or "accidentally" punching opponents in the face, neck, or groin when diving for a catch. It's worth noting that Cole broke nearly every record the sport offered, including the most number of injuries in one play.
In Gears of War 3, there is a small Easter egg where you can peek in through a window and see a group of Savage Locust watching a cockfight between Feral Tickers.
Body-Count Competition: At one point in Gears of War 2, Marcus and Dom see a long line of Locust drones walking far below them. Dom makes a comment about practicing with their sniper rifles, and for each successive kill, Marcus numbers his kills.
Bond Villain Stupidity: In 3 Myrrah discovers Delta Squad emerging from the underground corpser nest while she is riding her flying, death-dealing beetle. This thing is so vicious that it is ultimately the big boss fight of the game. Instead of attacking them with it while they are cornered in a box canyon, she calls some piss-weak Shriekers to do it and flies away.
The opening of Gears of War 3 is very similar to the opening scene of Gears of War, only Dom's role is filled by Anya instead and there are Lambent Polyps instead of Locust Wretches. It turns out this is simply a Flashback Nightmare.
In another case, spanning outside of the games, the original advertisement for Gears of War features Gary Jules' cover of "Mad World". Fast forward several years to Gears of War 3 and an instrumental version of the song plays during Dom's Heroic Sacrifice.
Bowdlerise: A rare in game example. A feature in games 2 and 3 gives the player the ability to turn off the blood, gore and strong language in the campaign and multiplayer, despite being Rated M for Manly.
Bulletproof Human Shield: Anyone can take an enemy as one if they have been downed (see Critical Existence Failure). The game considers an enemy dead by all means, meaning there's no way to help them while they are being held (in multiplayer, their respawn timer starts), and when they are no longer held, they're practically a corpse. Maybejustified due to the armor all Gears wear, as well as the Locust being naturally tough.
Boomers and their many variants (Grinders, Maulers, Flamers and Butchers) always yell out an attack-related phrase (i.e. "Boom!" for Boomshot-wielding Boomers and "Grind!" for Mulcher-wielding Grinders) before opening fire. This is a good tell that lets you know when to Take Cover.
Every character does this when they announce they are throwing a grenade.
Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: In Gears of War 2, a Stranded says the surface isn't safe anymore. The Locust, Kryll-infested, razor hail suffering surface.
Canon Immigrant: Jace was an Expanded Universe character who got an audio cameo in Gears of War 2 and apperances in the graphic novels. He shows up as part of Delta Squad in Gears of War 3. Likewise Samantha and Bernie first appeared in the novels, and are fully playable in the Gears of War 3 campaign. In a variation, Michael Barrick, who was Killed Off for Real in the comics, is available via Downloadable Content. Alex Brand is also going to be a skin in Gears of War Judgment.
Captain Obvious: Dom becomes this in Gears of War 2. This is the title that goes with the onyx "Spotter" medal in Gears of War 3.
Celebrity Survivor: Cole. In the third game, you go back to his hometown and even fight through his old stadium.
Chainsaw Good: The Lancer assault rifle, with the aforementioned chainsaw bayonet. Not to be outdone, Skorge in Gears of War 2 wields a staff with chainsaws on both ends. The canon reason for this is the natural toughness of Locust hides led to bayonets being worthless. The Real Life reason is Cliff Blezinski had always had a dream of a gun with a chainsaw on it.
Chunky Salsa Rule: In Execution Mode of multiplayer, if an enemy is downed, all further damage inflicted from beyond a certain distance away is negated; you have to get close to them in order to finish them off. There are some exceptions, however: aside from the typical explosives, shooting the victim's head with a pistol, shotgun, or sniping weapon will blow their head off, finishing them off from any distance.
Clipped Wing Angel: The final boss of Gears of War 2 is a regular Brumak who walks into Imulsion and mutates into a massive Lovecraftian Lambent Brumak. It's basically a giant tree that stands still in one spot, and lasts all of 2 or 3 seconds as you vaporize it with the Hammer of Dawn.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: COG forces have subtle blue highlights on their armor, and have blue lights on their weapons. The Locust focus more on reddish and bloody colors, and have red lights on their weapons. What makes it really funny is the colored lights on the weapons and even on vehicles immediately change color depending on whether a COG or Locust is using it. Justified in fluff as the lights are called "COG Identification Markers" and since the Locust are ripping off COG technology as much as they can, the lights on the weapons would be changed by them too.
The Comically Serious: Marcus. The guy never cracks a smile. He does smirk occasionally, but it certainly isn't meant to be a "nice" smirk. Word of God states Marcus pretty much never smiles. Even at his birthday party, he didn't smile when they gave him the cake.
Command Roster: Technically, until the third game most of the group consists of multiple squads, largely Alpha and Delta. But they still come together sometime into the story and stay together as though they were one group.
Skorge is a fairly tough boss only because he's unaffected by any form of attack other than a chainsaw duel. It's certainly there to show off the new chainsaw duel feature but it comes across as a frustrating Gameplay and Story Segregation. It's not a terribly difficult fight otherwise, unless you're bad at dodging falling pillars, ink grenades, and Tickers. The pillars don't just fall in a straight line: you have to run to the other side of the hall, because these things will alter the direction of its fall to the point that it will somehow fall completely horizontally from a vertical position to kill you.
Insane difficulty is just a license for the game to be a cheating bastard.
This can actually be used to the player's advantage in campaign. AI squadmates never run out of ammo and can trade weapons with the player. This means that players can trade empty power weapons like the Torque Bow and Boomshot to an NPC, wait for the NPC to reload it, then take it back. Alternately, just give all your squadmates Boomshots and watch the carnage.
Continuity Cameo: Marcus makes an audio cameo in Judgement when it's revealed he is part of the battle of Halvo Bay, although not mentioned by name it is quite clear who he is supposed to be. Interestingly, his voice is noticeably less scratchy than the later games and is a little more in line with his voice from the first Gears game.
Gears of War 2 explicitly refers to things said in the last game as jokes to each other. Therefore...
It seems like half the dialogue with Benjamin are nods to his brother Anthony's death.
Clayton himself is one towards his brothers. During the trek at Hanover, he gets shot in the helmet by a sniper rifle, but survives unlike Anthony; ironically, he tells the shooter he's lucky that he wears a helmet. Later, he seemingly dies in a Raven crash similar to Benjamin's but survives.
At the Lethia Imulsion Facility in Gears of War, Marcus tells Cole, "I'll take that under advisement". In the sequel, when Delta Squad starts debating on rescuing the Stranded in Mount Kadar, Cole tells Baird, "This is the part where he tells you he'll take it under advisement".
"Don't start with that juice shit again!"
"Hey, Colonel, I guess we ARE the support, huh."
"Yeah, but he [Skorge] made RAAM look like a goddamn pushover."
The third game's campaign opens with a scene almost identical to the prologue of the first, down to identical dialogue, with Anya in place of Dom.
One of the earliest collectable pickups in the third game is twenty bucks that Dom owed Marcus from when they bet on a Thrashball game Cole was in. The money is a few years too late, and currency is pretty valueless with no governments left to honor it, but the thought still counts.
Dom wears a combat knife on his armor during all three campaigns. It isn't used until Mercy, when Dom lets Marcus borrow it to un-jam a lever. Marcus stabs Myrrah with it in the final scene of Gears of War 3, saying it was for Dom, and everyone else she killed.
A RAAM's Shadow achievement "Foreshadowing" requires players in multiplayer to execute opponents playing as Kim while using General RAAM as a skin, calling back to the same event in Gears of War.
Copy Protection: Cliff Bleszinski has stated with no small amount of vitriol that piracy of Gears of War stopped any chance of Gears of War 2 on the PC.
Corpse Land: The area where the Hammer of Dawn was used on the Locust to halt their attacks. In a disturbing mirror of Pompeii, there are ashen remain of every man, woman and child who were unable to reach the safe zone.
Crapsack World: Sera is reduced to a total hellhole in the aftermath of the Human-Locust War; the planet's surface has been scorched to cinders and its water sources contaminated by orbital Hammer of Dawn bombardment, nerve gas killed whatever the satellites didn't, fallout from the end of Gears of War causes terminal respiratory illness in the survivors, all the human cities have been destroyed, and according to the official tie-in novels, 99% of the human population was killed in the war. Becomes a World Half Full at the end of Gears Of War 3 though. The Locust and Lambent are all dead, the parasite in Imulsion is destroyed, and the world actually has a future now, as it is implied that humanity can now recover.
Played straight to an extent, as explosives will blow apart someone when it kills them, but not if the damage isn't enough. The games use invisible Hit Points, and when characters lose them, they become "down, but not out" in multiplayer, meaning they can only lay on the ground to bleed to death unless someone revives them, or they are finished off. Enemies can be downed in the campaign (though not always); likewise, so can characters. In Gears of War 2, downed players can crawl away instead of being totally immobile. Curiously, bots that manage to get chainsawed in the campaign will generally be downed. The same is not true of players who are chainsawed. This is likely to compensate for Artificial Stupidity.
Generally, any explosive that is in range to damage a downed player will gib them.
Troika gun turrets cut the player off at the knees or otherwise splatter them into Ludicrous Gibs in two seconds. Just getting grazed by one is Only a Flesh Wound, however. Fortunately, this is averted by the turrets in the third game, and you'll go down first before dying to them.
Cross Playing: Enforced Trope for male gamers, as Gears of War 3 has playable female characters for the first time and a medal for playing as them in a very large number of matches (required for 100% Completion). Also, Queen Myrrah is the Locust leader in the Capture the Leader mode.
Custom Uniform: There are some slight variations in the armor designs between major characters (regular COG Gears look exactly like Carmine), but in the first two games they were all similar enough that it was likely there was some mild customizable options (Dom has a shoulder light and combat knife to distinquish him from Marcus). In Gears of War 3, everyone has made significant alterations to their armor that takes it further away from being a uniform, including color coding. Marcus has orange highlights, Cole green and Baird blue as always. Hoffman has several medal-like markings on his suit to represent his command authority.
Heavily subverted with the female Locust Berserkers, vicious and fugly 10-foot tall stone-skinned monsters.
Played straight in Gears of War 2 with the Locust Queen Myrrah, who strangely looks like a human woman wearing a squid on her back. Although this appears to be a plot point, this is never explained in game. On the forums, it was revealed that Myrrah was a child of one of the scientists of the New Hope facility. The facility she was in got destroyed, with her being the only survivor. She ended up leading the children of the Sires, which were the first Locust.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: It will become quickly apparent to those who play Judgment that People Can Fly thought the button scheme that worked for THREE WHOLE GAMES was not good enough anymore. Many shouts of angry frustration were yelled when trying to use TAC/COM (Right Bumper in Gears 1-3) instead threw your grenade. The D-Pad was once used for switching between weapons is now used for your TAC/COM, and the Y button now used for swapping weapons.
Dark Action Girl: Myrrah, the Locust Queen, takes to frontlines in Gears Of War 3, heaving stripped herself of her squid-dress from the second game. In fact, her combat outfit looks very nice, too. She acts as the Locust leader in multiplayer.
Darker and Edgier: Gears of War 2 carries a darker, more personal story than the last, with various named characters dying, though none of them came from the original game, but were advertised as being in the sequel. Gears of War 3 takes this Up to Eleven.
Darkness Equals Death: The Kryll in the first game are a race of near-unstoppable flesh-eating bats who swarm anything not covered in light. It made this true for pretty much anywhere dark.
Most of the large Lambent in the third game, particularly Lambent Berserkers and Gunkers.
Deadpan Snarker: Marcus, though his general attitude is The Comically Serious and exacerbated with a voice that occasionally sounds like Eeyore. Baird plays this trope the straightest. By the third game, it escalates into World of Snark, with everyone throwing insults and one-liners at each other.
Deal with the Devil: Adam Fenix makes one with Queen Myrrah before the events of the trilogy. Myrrah promised Adam that she would not invade Sera should he find a way to destroy the Lambent. He fails to do so, thus Myrrah is forced to kick-start the Human-Locust War.
Its highly, highly implied she was going to do it anyway.
In Horde 2.0 the Command Center fortification allows you to upgrade to calling in a mortar or Hammer of Dawn strike. Since you have no direct control over where it drops, it can surprise both you and your teammates.
Death or Glory Attack: The Sawed-Off Shotgun. It has only one shot per reload and one of the longest reloads in the game, and its kill range is shorter than the Gnasher. So if you miss your shot, you are in deep, deep trouble. That said, it deals enough damage to one-shot anything up to a Reaver (on lower difficulties, whereas the Gnasher can only One-Hit KO up to a boomer).
Death World: Sera. Even the weather is trying to kill you.
Degraded Boss: Gameplay-wise, Grinders are essentially weaker versions of General RAAM with less health and no Kryll protecting it. Story-wise, they're two entirely different beasts (RAAM's an ascended Theron Guard while Grinders are Boomers with a Mulcher), yet their tactics are more or less the same.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: Word of God states the reason Anya and other women typically weren't COG infantry is because fertile women were needed for a more important duty vital to the survival of the human species. Infertile women, on the other hand, were sent straight to combat duty; if Alex Brand is any example, they make sure they really are infertile first. The dissonance also applies in-universe as Marcus clearly states to Alex that some of the practices implied by this trope are not one he agrees with by any means. Brand, for her part, decides while she should and is justified in being judgemental and pissed, when the fate of what remains of humanity is on the line, holding a grudge is probably not the best thing for everyone; she'll wait until after.
Didn't See That Coming: Kilo Squad was this to General Karn (a brilliant strategist), with a little bit of Spanner in the Works thrown in as well. Everything would have been almost perfect for karn if only Kilo had followed orders.
Disproportionate Retribution: Not only is Marcus' abandoning his post to save his father considered the worst form of treason, but the manual states Dom was demoted for daring to defend him in his trial. Justified as disobeying orders and what not is generally a bad thing in the military for a variety of reasons, as well as the fact Marcus leaving his post with the Hammer of Dawn targeting laser lost a good chunk of Jacinto.
Do-Anything Robot: JACK is a much more subtle version. It's equipped with various devices for communications and repairs but is primarily used to burn the locks off doors and hacking terminals. In Gears of War 3, Baird gives it an upgrade late in the game allowing it to shock and stun enemies.
Valera: Thanks for the assist. Barrick: You know me, Val... I'm always watching your ass.
Dressing as the Enemy: Subverted. Marcus briefly mentions doing this to sneak into the Nexus in Gears of War 2, but he and Dom decide to go in guns blazing instead as revenge for Maria. Can be played straight in the "Deleted Scene" DLC if you can take the sneaky option.
Driven to Suicide: Tai Kaliso was captured by the Locust in Gears of War 2. When he's found, we see him covered in large cuts and wounds. Marcus hands him a shotgun to arm himself so they can move on, but Tai shoots himself in the head with it. The damage is not seen.
Drought Level of Doom: The first half of Gears Of War 3 is an example, mainly if playing with 4 players. Especially during the segment where you control Cole's team. Weapons are scarce, half the Lambent don't use guns, everyone will be using the same ammo, and most enemies are rather durable. You will find yourself low on ammo a fair amount of the time. Once you start running into more standard enemies from the rest of the series., guns and ammo become much more common.
Dynamic Entry: In the first two games Locust can enter the game space via Emergence Holes, stable channels to their tunnel network. However in the third game, they do away with that and practically explode out of the ground. There is an award for taking out a Locust while it's airborne.
Early-Bird Cameo: Some of the Locust were seen in promotional renders of the Unreal Engine 3 before the game was announced. Likewise, some of the character designs in Unreal Tournament III are close enough to be predecessors of the various Gears.
Earn Your Happy Ending: In Gears of War 3, despite Marcus' cynicism at the end of the game, Anya heartwarmingly tells him mankind has earned its tomorrow.
Easter Egg: There are a bunch of silly gags that can be found, such as a toaster ("Who wants toast!"), a cowboy hat wearing Corpser and a giant Lambent chicken!
Eldritch Abomination: The Lambent, especially the Lambent Brumak and Drudges. For Druges if they take too much damage but do not die, they will either mutate into three different forms ( Mutation 1 is when its head surges upwards as its neck elongates, forming a thick serpent-like appendage. The head itself mutates into a gaping triangular mouth, which could spray a stream of Imulsion at close-medium range, causing significant damage to enemies. Even when it is killed, the head would continue to function, acting like a snake-like predator on the hunt for enemies (hence the term "Headsnake").; Mutation 2 is when its arms mutate into grotesque, over-elongated limbs with giant claws.; Mutation 3 is when its legs grow in length and fused together to form a trunk, which placed the upper body on an high pedestal above the battle.).
Elite Mooks: In the first game it was Theron Guards, tougher Locust Drones with the Torque Bow. In the second game it is the Kantus Priest, wielding a semi-auto pistol, can heal enemy troops and can summon explosive Tickers. In the third game it is the Armored Kantus, immune to virtually any small arms fire and thus requiring explosives to take down
Enemy Civil War: Gears of War 2 reveal the struggle of the Locust Horde against the insane Lambent Locust mutants. Not much use to the player, as the game mostly has them both trying to kill you instead of fighting each other. This is made MUCH more prevalent in the third game.
Bolo Grenades are really explosive maces. Epic Flail indeed, though they can only be used to blow things up, and the melee animation to stick grenades onto enemies looks like a swing, but it doesn't do any damage aside from sticking the grenade and watching them explode spectacularly.
Played absolutely straight with Maulers. These Boomer variants with Boomshields and heavy armor carry what appear to be larger versions of Bolo Grenades. Much larger...and reusable...and they don't throw them: they simply run up and hit you explosively with it.
Establishing Character Moment: Nearly everyone of Delta Squad gets their moment, but no one beats Cole's introduction in the first two games. The first game has him challenging an entire squad of Locust by himself until he gets reinforcements. In the second game, well, he is the reinforcements. Nobody stops the Cole Train, baby!
The Locust Queen Myrrah, up until 75% of the second game, that is.
The Carmines play the straighter example: each bear a striking family resemblance... considering their tendency to wear helmets. The third game actively teases us with it: the final scene actually shows Clayton picking up his helmet, dusting it off, and putting it on... without showing his face.
In multiplayer if a COG soldier or one of the Carmines receives a headshot it can cause the head to split in two down the middle. You can see their faces using the Ghost Camera.
Face Revealing Turn: In Gears of War 3, the group enters Mercy, which is mysteriously desolate and the sole survivor they find is quickly killed by unseen monsters. Eventually in the sewers, they find a sobbing woman, and when Marcus approaches she turns and screams, revealed to be a Lambent human, setting the level as a Zombie Apocalypse.
Fake Longevity: The first game has achievements for 100 multiplayer games with a kill with each weapon and 10,000 multiplayer kills in total. Gears of War 2 takes it to ludicrous extremes with "Party Like It's 1999" for playing that many multiplayer rounds (with or without bots, and with or without even being online) and "Seriously 2.0", which requires 100,000 total kills across all game modes. For reference, playing through the campaign once gets you about 1000 kills. The third game takes this Up to Eleven, introducing several longevity awards with absurd requirements: the "Doorman" medal requires you to grind opening doors, which would take dozens if not hundreds of campaign run-throughs to achieve; the "Allfathers" medal requires you to play 15000 matches (not rounds, matches) of multiplayer; the Founder ribbon requires you to be the one who founds the first base in Horde 2.0 hundreds of times, and so on. In addition, this article details how "Seriously 3.0" in Gears of War 3 might be the toughest achievement to ever unlock.
Five-Token Band: It's actually pretty well done to where it doesn't seem like marking off a checklist. Cole, Franklin, Jace and Griffin are all black, Dom and Maria are Hispanic, Tai is Samoan, Kim is Asian, and Sam is Ambiguously Brown. The majority of other characters wear helmets.
Finishing Move: Characters who've lost their Hit Points will often be incapacitated instead of killed, allowing for a stress relieving curb stomp. The second game introduced unique finishers with individual weapons. The third takes it up to eleven where you can continue them to gain more experience as well as giving each weapon an unlockable special execution.
In Gears of War 3, a shot of Adam from behind in his lab zooms out and lingers on a vial of Imulsion and a syringe behind him before the game returns to Delta Squad. Adam states later he had to inject himself with Imulsion in the creation of his superweapon, and knows fully well that activating it will kill him.
In Gears of War 3, an early level features Marcus in a dream defending his father. Take a look at everyone in that dream. Two are already dead, two will die, and two will survive. Have fun guessing.
For Massive Damage: The Lambent have glowing tumor-like growths of Imulsion in their chests or stomachs that serve as targets to quickly kill them. Shooting Drudges in their growths is the only way to take one down without it metamorphing into a nastier variant after taking enough damage.
Let's just go over life on Sera for Humans. First, Immulsion is discovered, which seems to be a solution to any possible energy crises... until nations start warring endlessly to get it, resulting in the creation of various superweapons like Kill Sats. Then, just when peace starts to happen, the Locust invade most major cities on the planet, killing millions. Then the COG deploys aforementioned Kill Sats onto most of the planet, wiping out most of everything. If you survived that, then you have the emergence of the Lambent to deal with, and the fact that Immulsion itself is sentient and trying to kill us all. Things do start looking up in the end of Gears of War 3, though.
Most of the plot of the series is like this too. First game has humanity having been driven into the Jacinto Plateau with the Locust holding all the territory around them. The next game, despite causing significant damage with the Lightmass Bomb, has the COG suffering from an outbreak of rustlung due to all of the vaporized Imulsion, not to mention the Locust are starting to dig through Jacinto. That ends with the Hollow flooded, but the survivors of Jacinto homeless. Gears of War 3 had the COG dissolved between the time of 2 and 3, with humanity scattered around Sera in isolated pockets fighting the remains of the Locust and the Lambent. When you get to Mercy in 3, the whole level is nothing but this.
Fungus Humongous: The Inner Hollow in Gears Of War 2 has mushrooms that are slightly shorter than Delta Squad, and some slimy stuff on the walls that might be fungi.
Funny Background Event: A Black Comedy example. In "RAAM's Shadow", Zeta team discovers the remains of an evacuation center in a high school gym. Among the carnage is a charred body jammed in a basketball hoop.
Game-Breaking Bug: A bug currently making the rounds in Gears Of War 3 will accidentally dump a 5-man Horde team into Wingman mode. Since Wingman's typically played by 4 teams of 2 in a free-for-all setting, dumping an entire group of 5 onto a single team is slightly unbalancing.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: The chainsaw bayonet was developed because the standard bayonets of the Retro Lancer weren't strong enough for the Locust's thick skin and kept breaking too easily. Not so when you finally get to use one for yourself.
Gatling Good: The hand-cranked Mulcher is man-portable and can... well, mulch soft targets at close range. The Silverback mounts what seems to be a more powerful variant, and gatling turrets appear occasionally in COG bases. There's also the Vulcan Cannon, which is more like an actual modern-day gatling gun and sounds like a cross between a chainsaw and thunder.
Gang Up on the Human: In the first game, all enemy A.I. units would instantly auto-target the player the moment you pop out of cover to shoot, completely ignoring your A.I. teammates even if they had been locked in combat just moments before. This was especially noticeable on Insane difficulty, and made it impossible to actually flank or ambush enemies. Thankfully, this was removed in later games, creating a more natural flow of battle.
Gender Is No Object: The first two games and the novelizations subvert this. Only men do the fighting; all fertile women are used for reproductive purposes, while non-fertile women serve in support roles. The third game, however, plays this straight. Almost all women fight alongside the men. Totally justified because humanity is down to its last throes and needs every available body to fight.
When Baird is asked to improvise a bomb with few parts available, he replies, "Regular or extra strength?"
Marcus, too, was meant to be an "intelligent badass" by the design team. Even though he doesn't show it as much as Baird, he seems to be able to come up with complicated military tactics on the fly in stressful situations, and he definitely has motivations beyond those of the average Space Marine action hero.
In fact, most of Delta Squad applies according to Baird himself, as he states the reason he sticks with them is because they're the only people he knows who have above a single-digit IQ.
Then there's Adam Fenix, the man himself. Back-story shows he's both a super-genius Omnidisciplinary Scientist (generally considered "The Smartest Man On The Planet"), as well as a former military officer and war hero. Granted, he's aged quite a bit and by the time he's mentioned in the games, he's more of a Badass Bookworm.
Genocide Backfire: It's been revealed by Word of God (namely David Nash and Karen Traviss, viewable here) that Myrrah was a descendant of the scientists who were running New Hope, and the Locust were created in an attempt to find a cure for Lambency.
Gorn: It certainly goes into this trope at times... and then there's chainsawing your enemies... and then there's chainsawing your enemy simultaneously with your allies. The games THRIVE on its extreme violent content. There's hardly a death in this game that doesn't end in copious amounts of blood, meaty chunks or bones cracking, not to mention the way blood splatters on the camera. Special note of a certain line from the second game:
Baird: "Oh man... this is just wrong. I'm coughing up blood that ain't mine."
Grand Finale: Gears of War 3 brings the series' plot to a decisive and suitably epic conclusion. While a few questions about the world's backstory are Left Hanging, for the most part it neatly wraps up the storyline running through the entire series.
Green Rocks: Imulsion. Originally not that bad, but Gears of War 2 starts to elevate it to this status pretty quickly as it's implied that not only does Imulsion turn living beings into explosive versions of themselves, they mutate them. Gears of War 3 further implies that Imulsion overexposure and mutations forced the Locust to invade the surface, starting the war. It also acts as a super-fuel and is used in the construction of death rays from space, though as it turns out it isn't a mysterious magical substance. It's a parasite and the mutations are its primary purpose. The fact that it can be used as a super fuel is just incidental.
Grievous Harm with a Body: in the third game, during a cutscene, a locust drone is seen ripping off a Gears' arm to beat him to death with it.
Gunship Rescue: Used several times with the King Raven helicopters, but subverted just as much. Notable in that King Ravens are gunships even without the specific "gunship" upgrade appearing in Gears of War2; of the actual King Raven gunships (distinguished by their stub wings mounting gatling guns and missile launchers) you see in action in Gears of War 2, one is lost after its Gunship Rescue moment, one causes as much trouble as it cures but can later be seen in the background being a Gunship Rescue for other Gears, and the other survives.
Hand Cannon: The Boltok revolver is obviously high-caliber (it can blow off limbs, and headshots cause the head to simply vanish in a geyser of gore and the top of someone's skull!), and the Gorgon SMG is basically a fun-size one-handed automatic rifle, but surprisingly the champion of this trope in this series is the humble Snub pistol, sadly discarded or ignored by many players, which is chambered for .50cal and possesses both a high rate of fire and a 12-round magazine. No wonder it can decapitate armoured Boomers and Therons.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: The easiest way to see if someone is going to die? He wears a helmet. Except Clayton Carmine. His helmet actually saves him from friendly fire.
Heroic Sacrifice: Sadly, Gears of War 3 has Dom of all people pulling one of these at the end of Act 3 to save Marcus, Anya, Sam, Dizzy and Jace from the never ending hordes of Lambent. Adam Fenix dies not long after reuniting with his son by using himself as a test subject in his quest to eliminate Imulsion, then activating a world-affecting bomb that he knows will kill him as well as all Lambent and Locust.
Marcus and Dom. Long time friends who always stay close together. The novel Aspho Fields give a bit of backstory of Marcus and Dom growing up, as well as shedding light on quite a bit of angst between Marcus and Anya prior to their Relationship Upgrade. Their argument in Gears of War 2 comes close to a break-up. Yahzee made a joke of this part. "[Marcus] is aided by his best friend - AND NOTHING ELSE - Dominic."
Lampshaded by Baird, who remarks in one of the collectible intel items that it's strange despite fighting straight into the heart of the Locust civilization, there are no Locust children running around to shoot. Presumably a case of assumed Human Aliens - if they're Bee People, they wouldn't have children, just hatch fully-formed from eggs.
Averted in Gears of War 3 while visiting Char. Many of the ash-corpses are too small to be adults.
Averted again in the "RAAM's Shadow" DLC. A fair chunk of the campaign takes place in a high school which has been attacked by the Locust. Many corpses of civilians who are at the very least teenagers are shown in several rooms.
High Pressure Blood: In Gears Of War 2, it seems as if the characters lose blood that would be enough to kill someone when they go into a downed state alone from the impact of bullets against them. Not to mention the extra pints they lose from crawling around.
Holiday Mode: Several of the multiplayer events in 3. Halloween saw the players with Pumpkin heads, Thanksgiving unlocked an exploding turkey / chicken launcher, Christmas gave everyone snowmen heads, and Super Bowl week unlocks a Locust Drone in football pads.
Honor Before Reason: There are several scenes, especially in the second game, of Marcus taking the extra effort to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians even when it complicates the mission. Baird calls him out on this, but Marcus always gets the final say.
Hopeless War: The games have a very strong feel of this trope until the end of the trilogy, which presumably ends the war once and for all.
Hulk Speak: The Boomer family of Locust all speak in this. "Boom!" "Grind!" "Meat!" "Bash!"
Hurricane of Puns: It's not that many, but there's a few: the soldiers of humanity are called Gears, the largest government on Sera is called the Coalition of Ordered Governments, and there are COG tags instead of dog tags. The Pendulum Wars count as well. In fact, one track on the first game's soundtrack is entitled "I Will Kryll You".
Immune to Bullets: Berserkers require a satellite laser cannon to kill, although when its skin is hot and toasty it's just as squishy as the rest of them. The Seeder is this fully; it can't be killed at all except via Hammer of Dawn.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In several cutscenes you can see Gears and Locust standing completely out in the open with no cover, exchanging full-auto fire at distances of less than 50 feet, and completely failing to hit each other with even a single bullet. Kim's last stand and the helicopter evac from Ilima City are both particularly egregious. Also applies in game as, by design, the typical combat ranges and effectiveness of weapons in Gears is very, very short.
In the novelization "Jacinto's Remnant", a brief flashback reveals a battle taking place in a department store, where Tai grabs a circular saw to fight with after his old-school Lancer bayonet breaks. This inspired the creation of the chainsaw bayonet, so if you think the chainsaw is cheap, blame Tai.
A lot of Locust weaponry and "vehicles" are kitbashed gear made from animals living in the Hollow, looted COG weaponry, and Locust-engineered small arms. Tickers, for example, are just normal animals with bombs strapped to their backs, Locust "Siege Beasts" are some kind of turkey-like animal converted to launch artillery, and so on. The heavier Locust weapons like Brumaks and Seeders are just massive animals bred for combat with weapons strapped on them; even Corpsers are fitted with helmets to protect their eyes. Locust in the third game make crude Troika turrets out of multiple Retro Lancers strapped together and attached to a Troika mount to make a surprisingly effective suppression weapon.
Incurable Cough of Death: Rustlung, which seemed pretty pointless in Gears of War 2 until it turned out to be the first step towards Lambency in humans in Gears of War 3.
Informed Ability: The Onyx Guard are supposed to be the most absolutely elite of the COG forces, yet they get slaughtered every single time they're deployed in the games and novels.
The first game opens with Marcus being busted out of jail. The war and some small details are sprinkled throughout the rest of the game.
The story of main Judgment campaign is told in this fashion.
Instant Death Bullet: Invoked with the weapon in Gears of War 3 called the "One Shot". It will shred any enemy in one shot and bypasses some forms of cover, including a Boomshield. In addition, it has a sniper zoom, but only has one round per clip, long reload time and is a heavy weapon, meaning it will slow you down like a Mulcher or mortar.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Generally averted, except on the multiplayer map "Jacinto," where small flowerbeds prevent you from mantling some critically-important walls.
Jerkass: Baird. He gets better in the sequels, becoming more of a Deadpan Snarker. It's explained that he was initially resentful that Marcus was given command over him or Cole who, at least at the beginning, ranked higher than either Dom or Marcus.
Ezra Loomis in Judgment, on the other hand, is just a complete bastard and makes no apologies for it.
Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Gears of War 2 has a major case of this, introducing multiple unexplained plot elements (the secret COG experiments creating the Sires, a lot of what the Locust Queen was yammering about, Adam Fenix being alive and ticked off you sunk Jacinto, etc.) that are not resolved. Most of these are covered in Gears of War 3, and the remaining questions were addressed in The Slab, where it turned out the Sires were Lambent humans from 100 years ago, and the Locust were their descendants. See here for more information.
Jitter Cam: The perfect use of this. Your normal pace is at a quick march but the roadie run is a "keep your head down and run" maneuver. Putting the camera angle lower and with a slight shake to it turns it into a documentary-like experience.
Just Before the End: The "RAAM's Shadow" DLC to Gears of War 3 takes place before the first game, early in the Human-Locust War. Though it chronologically takes place after the Hammer of Dawn strikes that destroyed much of Sera (Barrick refers to his old Stranded camp in past-tense; Stranded camps didn't exist before this event), Ilima City's mostly undamaged, the government is still functional, the military well-equipped, and there are active attempts to evacuate civilians wherever possible.
Kick the Dog: Particularly Tai and Maria in the second game. It gets worse in Gears of War 3 with Dom's death.
Kill It with Fire: The Berserker is only vulnerable to damage when her skin is hot and toasty, and the prefered method is using the Hammer of Dawn to do so. Otherwise the only other method of getting her to take damage is to use the Scorcher flamethrower or Incendiary Grenades, which is a much slower and dangerous tactic.
Kill Sat: Now in convenient tactical-usage size, the Hammer of Dawn.
Knight in Sour Armor: Most of the main cast in all the games have shades of this, but special mention goes to Paduk from Judgment.
Large and in Charge: The Locust leaders are much taller than their counterparts. RAAM, a Theron, is even bigger than a Boomer. Even Myrrah is fairly tall for a (apparently) human woman.
A number of Onyx medals in Gears of War 3 take a lot of time to get, even if you boost them in private matches. To claim the "Seriously 3.0" achievement, you need to have them all.
The "Foreshadowing" achievement added by "RAAM's Shadow": to get it, you must execute players playing as Lieutenant Kim while playing as General RAAM. This cannot be done privately, only in public multiplayer, where nobody ever played as Kim to begin with, even in the last two games, and certainly won't now since doing so will make them a highly sought-after target.
And if they do play as him, it's because they are incredibly skilled at the game and want to be a highly sought-after target so that they just have to wait for free kills to come directly to them.
"I've Got This!". You must get 10 kills in one round of Guardian while playing as your team leader. Guardian cannot be played privately. You are not guaranteed to get a turn as the leader every match. Leaders cannot respawn. If the team leader is dead, nobody else on the team can respawn either, which means if the enemy leader dies too quickly it will be impossible for you to get the required amount of kills. It also must be done on a map from the "Forces of Nature" map pack. To top it all off, it unlocks a set of weapon skins.
Limited Loadout: The first three games give the player access to two primary weapons, a pistol, and grenades on a cross-shaped menu. Judgment, ditches this menu and implements the pistol as a separate weapon slot.
Living Gasbag: Gears Of War 3 introduces the Locust Gas Barge as a means of transportation after the flooding of the Hollow.
Lost Forever: In 3, the Thrashball Drone multiplayer skin was unlocked briefly to celebrate the Super Bowl. It was taken away after that, and Epic has not revealed plans to ever unlock it again.
The Locust have become gradually weaker as the series has progressed. In the first game it took almost a full 60-round mag of Lancer assault rifle fire to kill a single basic Locust drone, making them one of the toughest basic FPS mooks ever. In the second game, it only takes about two dozen assault rifle rounds to kill a Locust drone. By the time of the 3rd game, they can be dropped with only about a dozen bullets on Normal difficulty (about 15-20 rounds on Hardcore), making them on par with "standard" FPS soldier mooks.
Boomers are somewhat weaker in Gears of War 2, going down after only 1-2 clips from the Lancer (even on Hardcore) instead of 3-4 clips like in the first game. They're even weaker in Gears of War 3, going down after only a little over 2/3rds of a full mag from the Lancer. This is largely due to the fact that in the first game they were basically Boss In Mooks Clothing and always showed up in pairs. The sequels would have more "Boomer" types (including the Mauler, Grinder and Butcher) and more would appear at one time.
Luck-Based Mission: The final battle against General RAAM in the first game. There are so many random factors in this fight (Reavers shooting at you, randomly appearing Kryll, plus RAAM himself and his own pet Kryll) that winning is as much luck as skill, unless you abuse the AI-block glitch.
Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: With the previously mentioned meat shields and with the Mauler's indestructible Boomshields (that also double as roadblocks for larger enemies in Horde Mode). A Boomshield will actually protect you from a charging Berserker in the third game, although the recoil makes you drop it.
Ludicrous Gibs: Not so ludicrous in the amount of gibs, just ludicrous in how much the average multiplayer match in it will have.
Made of Explodium: All Lambent creatures explode when killed with varying degrees of force, which is used by the team when they needed a big bomb and there was a Lambent Brumak in front of them. Regular drones don't harm you much, drudges sometimes run after you when about to explode, wretches are like grenades, Grunkers and Lambent Berzerkers look like a tactical nuke.
In the first game it takes close to a full magazine of Lancer fire just to kill a single Locust Drone on every difficulty setting except the very easiest. Bear in mind that Lancer assault rifles had 60 rounds per magazine!note at the time:it was switched to 50 in 2, and reverted in 3. No wonder they had to invent chainsaw bayonets before anyone could hurt them.
A bit less so in the second game, which has a) a Normal difficulty that falls between Casual and Hardcore, with appropriate enemy strength and b) an improved Hammerburst assault rifle that's actually stable and accurate enough to score headshots at mid-range.
Played straight in Gears Of War 2, as everyone seems to lose pints of blood from being hit by bullets alone, but it takes time for it to affect them by having them go into a "down but not out" state.
Played straight to this trope's extreme with the Meatflag in Gears of War 2, an unarmored civilian who cannot die whatsoever. You could drop a mortar on his head, blowing everyone around him into meaty chunks, and he'll just be crawling around and complaining afterwards. Makes sense, considering he's the objective for that particular game mode "Submission". Likewise, Prescott and Myrrah are this for the game mode "Capture The Leader" in Gears of War 3.
In the cutscene leading up to the final boss fight of the "RAAM's Shadow" campaign, RAAM casually brushes off a chainsaw attack and several dozen assault rifle rounds at point blank range even before he puts up his Kryll shield.
Cranked Up to Eleven in the third game. Lambent foes are Made of Explodium, but human soldiers can melee them to death with chainsaw bayonets and shrug off the point-blank KABOOM like it ain't no thang.
The game series embodies this through the use of the Carmine brothers (Anthony, Ben and Clay), where the original was a faceless member of the team who got killed early on while complaining about his gun jamming. Due to his unexpected popularity they brought him back as his brother in Gears 2, still faceless but lasting longer through the campaign and a more fully developed character. Bringing in the third Carmine, still helmeted, they actually allowed the fans to choose whether he lived or died in the end through an X Box marketplace charity drive. As such most fans were wondering when/if he would die.
Other characters in this mold include Kim and Tai.
Mêlée à Trois: The second game introduces the Lambent, mutant Locust who are fighting against the original Locust. By the third game, humans, Locust and Lambent are all duking it out with each other on the planet's surface. However, in the actual game, Locust and Lambent are only encountered in the same area a couple of times, most prominently in the final battle.
Men Are the Expendable Gender: The first two games and the novelizations play this straight. Only men do the fighting, while fertile women are used for reproductive purposes and non-fertile women serve in support roles. The third game, however, subverts this. The women fight alongside the men due to humanity being down to its last throes and needing every available body to fight.
Mini Mecha: The Silverback, which doesn't actually have a back so that Gears can climb in and out easily. Size-wise, it's very close to being a Powered Armor.
Mission Control: Features prominently in both games. Normally, Anya's the one providing intel, advice, orders and even comfort; there are times where other characters take on the role, though they are distinctly lacking the comfort aspect. Delta Squad loses contact with Mission Control a depressing number of times throughout both games, though. In Gears of War 3, a variety of characters take on the role, from Anya to Dizzy to Adam Fenix.
Giant Mook: Boomers and their variants; Grinders, Maulers, Butchers, Flamers, etc.
Elite Mooks: Theron Guards; smarter, faster, tougher and armed with one-hit-kill Torque Bows.
Praetorian Guard: The Palace Guards in the second game, who guard the Nexus Palace instead of regular drones, and are just as tough as Theron Guards. The third game has Chairman Prescott's Onyx Guard, elite Gears personally loyal to him, although you only fight them as the "final boss" of Beast Mode when playing as the Locust.
Gears of War 3 feature Lambent Stalks that sprout from the ground, changing the landscape but also depositing any number and multiple types of Lambent Locust in your path while also doing away with Emergence Holes, presumably because the Locust have lost control of the underground to the Lambent.
More Dakka: Gears Of War 2 has a man-portable Mulcher minigun. To help realism slightly, it requires you to set it down to fire it with anything that vaguely resembles accuracy, and you are unable to sprint, roll or mount over cover with it.
Muscles Are Meaningless: The average male COG and Locust Drone has chest and arm girth that would put most Olympian power lifters to shame. This, of course, offers them no advantage over the normally proportioned (ie. literally half their size) female gears in terms of hand-to-hand combat or in carrying heavy weaponry from the hip (or their armor, for the matter). Emphasized at the end of Gears of War 3 when Anya and Marcus sit next to each other and hold hands, and you see how much bigger Marcus is compared to her.
Mutants: The Slab reveals that the Locust are really human mutants who were exposed to imulsion in the hopes of finding a way to achieve immunity to lambency, and that Queen Myrrah is the descendant of one of the scientists at the New Hope facility where they did said research, which also resulted in the Sires, essentially proto-Locust. Therefore, Sera is no more or less the territory of the Locust than it is that of the surface Seran humans.
Neck Snap: Characters can dispose of "meatshields" this way. There is no gameplay benefit to this as it just takes up time to play the animation as opposed to dropping the meatshield instantly by switching to another weapon - it's solely for Video Game Cruelty Potential.
Never Trust a Trailer: The "Ashes to Ashes" trailer. Features the group fighting in Char. Dom never made it there in the game.
New Meat: Benjamin in the second game, who also stands out as a Red Shirt by being the only main character who wears the face concealing helmet. The tutorial has the Player Characters training him.
Smoke Grenades in multiplayer; at launch for Gears of War 2, these grenades instantly drop players to the ground, much like the Kantus scream, to allow for an easy kill. Following title updates, they momentarily stun players to stop them from firing or moving away, but recover much faster than the former effect.
A "Stopping power" feature from firearms was programmed into Gears 2 in order to encourage players to play more strategically rather than just rushing at the enemy. In particular with the Gnasher players developed a tactic where they run into a forward dive then fired the Gnasher at the tail end of the roll, which was ridiculously effective (using grenades was also done similarly). Thus trying to rush at someone would end up with you coming up short.
The Gnasher Shotgun, according to some players, was the only gun to use in multiplayer. Nowadays, it's a shadow of its former self, due to a few things such as the stopping power and the tightening of its spread. This was to give it a better medium range while still giving it the "gibs" effect at close range. The last title update to Gears of War 2 returned the Gnasher to a point where it balances, if not outmatches, the assault rifles at medium range.
The Torque Bow in the sequel is somewhat weaker, as it no longer kills Boomers in one shot (around on par with the Boomshot grenade launcher in terms of damage). It still One Hit Kills Drones and Theron Guards, and also kills you in one shot on Hardcore (but not on Normal, where a direct hit doesn't even down you).
Like the Gnasher, the chainsaw bayonet isn't as effective anymore, as taking more than a handful of damage will prevent you from keeping it revved up and take a few seconds before you can rev it up again. Of course, certain players really hate getting chainsawed, so in their eyes it still hasn't been nerfed enough.
Gears of War 3 rectifies it - getting hit while reving the chainsaw up will mess it up, but after you've managed to rev it, you'll keep it up despite getting damaged.
Developers have said the difficulty, particularly at the lower difficulties, turned out a lot harder than they had wanted for the first game. This is what led to Gears of War 2 getting a Sequel Difficulty Drop.
You don't go "down but not out" in Gears of War 3 on Insane: you just DIE. This includes co-op, meaning you have to load a checkpoint if anyone is downed.
This is mitigated somewhat in Gears of War 3 with the addition of Arcade Mode, in which you respawn on a 30-second timer in co-op (even on Insane; you don't get a game over unless everyone's dead). You still earn every campaign achievement and reward while playing Arcade, too.
No Blood for Phlebotinum: All the bloody conflict has been because of the wonder-fuel Imulsion which turns out to be an living, mutating parasite! The series ends with all Imulsion being destroyed.
No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted in "RAAM's Shadow", which has several segments where you play on the side of the Locust horde.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: If you "down but not out" a Locust Drone, you can wait for his buddies to run out of cover to rescue him and shoot THEM as they rush in.
Noob Cave: "Casual" multiplayer for Gears of War 3 is just straight-up Team Deathmatch. Notably, those who have earned certain achievements in the first two games or participated in the beta on their profile are locked out of "casual" and are forced into "standard" multiplayer. Somewhat justified by Epic Games, as they cite Gears of War 3 being the most accessible title, thus giving newcomers to the series a place to practice before joining the "big leagues".
Oh Crap: Pretty much every character has lines which will be stated to note how certainly dead they are in response to being struck by a Torque Bow shot. Sofia has a particularly unique one where she will quickly and fearfully say "I'll miss you guys.".
Once A Game: Every game so far has featured one "horror movie" level, with plenty of tense atmospheres, foreboding scenery, and nonstandard enemies. It was in the Lethia Imulsion Facility in the first, the New Hope Research Facility in the second, and Mercy in the third.
In the first game, the Torque Bow kills anything any all difficulties that isn't a boss in one hit, including you. It even works on Boomers, who can take multiple rounds from the Boomshot or 3 full magazines of assault rifle fire. Nerfed in the sequels, where it's no longer this trope. The third game does still allow single kills with it on Boomer-class Locust, but only with headshots.
In multiplayer, Boomshots, One Shots, Torque Bows, Mortars and Frag and Incendiary Grenades will One-Hit Kill if impacting close enough to a player. Boom, Headshot is a guaranteed kill with the Longshot sniper rifle.
One-Hit Polykill : the One shot will easily kill any number of enemies in a single file line (there is even an award for it). The torque-bow can achieve this too if the player lands a headshot on an already low health opponent which will result in the explosive arrow turning their head into pulp without detonating, continuing in its trajectory and sticking into the next target exploding as intended killing it (bonus points for doing it to an Armored Kantus while he roars)
Technically a squad of four, but just two of the squad still ended up practically single-handedly deploying the destruction of the enemy, twice, barring the occasional need for transportation (although they end up transporting themselves more often then not).
The consistency of the trope towards the final missions in the third installment is somewhat averted with it being clear that supportive elements are on the island - though not right with you - probably stopping the entire rest of the Horde from getting to you, which you'd assume Myrrah would probably be trying to do in such a desperate situation.
The Imulsion turns the Brumak you've hijacked into a Lambent Brumak, which serves as the final boss for Gears of War 2.
Gears of War 3 introduces Drudges, a Lambent creature that mutates once it takes enough damage (unless you consistently hit the glowing Imulsion "belly"). It sometimes sprouts a flame throwing snake head, turns into a tree with three branches throwing Imulsion fireballs at you, or remains mobile but has two arms throwing smaller Imulsion fireballs.
Judgment has a new creature called the Rager, who initially looks like a skinnier drone with typical armaments but can morph into a more grotesque creature with spikes who behaves like a less durable Berserker.
Optional Stealth: Gears of War 2 DLC campaign add on "Road to Ruin" gave you the choice between using stealth or going in all guns blazing. There's an achievement for successfully completing the stealth element.
The Other Darrin: Jace goes from having an Australian-sounding voice in his cameo in Gears of War 2 to being played by Michael B. Jordan in Gears of War 3.
Our Orcs Are Different: Cliff Bleszinski once said in an interview that the inspiration for the Locust Horde came from the Uruk-hai. He explains this by saying that the Uruk-hai tend to be smarter and tougher than regular orcs. As such, he designed the Locust to be smarter than the usual average bunch of "horde" monsters in other settings, via taking cover, not rushing into COG fire, etc.
Our Zombies Are Different: Formers, who show up in Act 3, are Lambent humans, who act similar to stereotypical zombie fashion. It doesn't help that all they seem to be focused on is attacking the living and that one guy even seems to have been eaten alive. Poor bastard.
People Jars: The ones that contain the Sires in the New Hope research facility. (Hey, they technically count as human, don't they?)
Personal Space Invader: Lots, though justified by the fact this is a cover-based game. Since you're supposed to hide from your enemies, ones that just run up and melee you will be considerable threats. The first game has Wretches, Kryll and Grenadiers. The sequel removes the Kryll, but adds Maulers, Butchers, Tickers, Sires, Beast Riders on Bloodmounts, and anything with a flamethrower. Also, low-level Locust will randomly charge and melee you. This can range from irritating (when they have a Boltok pistol) to terrifying (when they have a Lancer). The third game adds Lambent Polyps to the mix.
Theron Guards in the first game sometimes do it deliberately to score a chainsaw kill.
Playing with Syringes: Niles Samson and New Hope. The notes and recordings in the research facility during Gears of War 2 and The Slab show that the COG accidentally created the Locust while trying to find a cure for Lambency 100 years ago.
Plot Hole: In 1, the Kryll will eat anything, Locust or Man, that falls into darkness. RAAM is the only one able to walk among them, and his ability to do this is never explained. In "RAAM's Shadow" for 3, even normal Locust can avoid the Kryll and RAAM's lieutenants can control them as he does.
The Lancer Mk.II, the one with the chainsaw bayonet, was invented a year after Emergence Day, but has appeared in both RAAM's Shadow and Judgment. The time at which RAAM's Shadow takes place is somewhat vague, so it is excusable, but Judgment takes place only six weeks after Emergence Day.
Powered Armor: Theorized to be the reason Gears can do all the acrobatics the game allows them, but it has yet to be stated.
In spades with Gears of War 3; sure, the Locust and Lambent are finally gone, but the vast majority of humanity is dead, their cities destroyed and ruined and their primary source of energy used to build them up in the first place no longer exists because it was mutating beyond its control. The future is going to be very, very hard, but at least there IS a future for humanity.
Surprisingly, the events of "RAAM's Shadow" turn out as one for the Locust. Yes, the COG has lost hundreds of Gears and civilians, but the evacuation of Ilima City was largely successful and RAAM was nearly killed by Zeta Squad.
Quad Damage: The Mutators in Gears of War 3 has one called "Super Reload". If you manage a perfect active reload you get several powerful effects: the affected ammo from the reload does not drain from your primary ammo cache, once the affected ammo is depleted it still gives you a full clip of regular fire (single shot clips like the Boomshot basically gives you two shots back to back), there is no time limit on using the affected bonus and instead of a 10-20 percent damage increase it does literally about a 500 percent damage increase. It's so powerful it makes regular assault rifles (especially the Lancer due to high firing rate and clip size) more valuable than the Silverback minigun.
Everyone is absolutely enormous, and spouts OneLiners without irony. They have chainsaw machine guns. If you hit a button at the right time, they can reload their gun hard and make the bullets come out stronger. This game will make a man out of you, even if you're a woman.
Anya and Samantha are every bit as manly as their male teammates. Seeing Anya scream and cuss as she chainsaws a Locust in half will remove whatever doubt you may have that her upgrade from control operative to Action Girl may be a plot contrivance.
A cutscene in Gears of War 2 has Cole and Marcus reuniting and bumping their chainsaw-equipped machine guns together. A manlier greeting has never been seen, before or since.
Real Is Brown: The original Gears of War was practically the Trope Codifier; nearly everything was a shade of brown and it felt like a straight Color Wash, making it almost impossible to tell your side from the enemy. The sequels improve on it significantly, with Gears of War 2 making the lights on the armor more vibrant and the colors of the two sides more distinct (blue for COG, red for Locust). Since it's winter, there's a lot of snow on the surface, and down in the Hollow, glowing flora luminates the dark caverns. Gears of War 3 completely averts it with colorful environments and brighter colors. Justified because it's summertime at the onset of the game.
Reckless Gun Usage: The loading screens in three show a contemplative Fenix resting his hands on the muzzle of his rifle.
Red Shirt: Aside from the two Carmine brothers already mentioned, the "We're fucked! We're fucked!" Gear who is mauled by the first Berserker in the first game is listed in the credits as "Redshirt Gyules". The Carmines lampshade their Red Shirt-edness in the multiplayer.
Anthony Carmine: *gets a headshot* "NOW who's expendable?!"
Numerous points in the second game have Delta Squad being forced into using this trope.
Fenix: Control! We've hijacked a Brumak and we're- Anya: You what? Fenix: We're riding a Brumak!
Retcon: The second game switched the names of the Grenadier and Grenadier Elite. The third game gave the Beast Rider a Drone body type instead of a Grenadier body type (although the Grenadier variants still show up in Horde). Myrrah also now has a Caucasian skin tone instead of being grey like she was in the second game.
Revolvers Are Just Better: While the Boltok revolver used to have a slower firing rate and more damage compared to the standard Snub pistol, achieving its active reload allows it to fire faster. It even makes for an impromptu sniper rifle in a pinch, due to all pistols having a zoom-in function.
Robot Buddy: Delta Squad has a floating robot following them called JACK (that frequently utilizes a cloaking device to avoid damage from their firefights), in reference to the phrase "Jack-of-all-trades". Some wonder if it's something of an Expy of R2-D2, claiming to see some scenes which indicate emotion, such as waving its arms as if it's frightened. In the third game, JACK even gets an electrical self-defense mechanism.
Rule of Cool: Many, many (if not all) things, but most notably ChainsawBayonets
Canonically, the chainsaw bayonet was developed because the traditional blade bayonets break on Locust skin. In Gears of War 3. the Retro Lancer is integrated into the gameplay, yet the blades don't ever break.
The "active reload" mechanic within the game consists of a minigame while reloading: press the reload button within a specific and small window of time and the weapon will reload faster. Press it within an even smaller, more specific window will give the weapon a temporary stat bonus (increased range, firing rate, damage...) and reloads the weapon instantly if pressed correctly. However, missing it causes the weapon to jam and ends up taking much longer to reload. This minigame is never explained, not even HandWaved, and is quite obviously just there to make reloading more fun.
Cole gets some moments suggesting this early in the third game when he visits the ruins of his Doomed Hometown. He may be a Boisterous BruiserBig Guy who loves the adrenaline rush of sports and combat, but he is also clearly haunted by memories of happier times which will never come again.
Scary Black Man: Twice averted with Cole. "The Cole Train" looks to be the most musclar character in a game full of bulky-armoured men, and one probably wouldn't want to fight him, but he's probably also among the nicest characters as well. Jace is black, and pretty big (although by comparison to Marcus and Cole, he's notably small) and has cornrows, yet he's written as the sweetest character in the games and Expanded Universe (notably, Michael B. Jordan portrays Wallace in The Wire, who's known for playing that type of character). Probably the straightest example of this trope is Aaron Griffin, who even seems to frighten the men under him.
Scenery Porn: 3 really shows off just how good the Unreal engine can be with the proper amount of time and effort. From the beautifully-rendered and colourful daytime maps like Mercy and Sandbar to the gloomy and soaking wet remake of Bullet Marsh, it's clear that Epic didn't cut any corners.
Score Multiplier: In 3, you can play an "Arcade" version of the campaign where your score is recorded in which enemies you kill. So many points reaches another multiplier level where you get more points for each kill and the multiplier goes down when a player character goes down, if a player is killed the score resets to X1.
Screaming Warrior: Pretty much everyone, especially when chainsawing, executing, or retro charging an opponent. Special mention goes to Tai, the Carmine brothers and Savage Drones.
Sergeant Rock: Marcus, when Benjamin's part of Delta Squad. Hoffman counts, as well.
The second game is much less insanely difficult than the first, even if you still play on Hardcore instead of the newly added Normal difficulty. You can take noticeably more damage before going "down but not out", Locust are slightly less durable, the range and accuracy of the Hammerburst assault rifle has been increased to make it a viable long-range weapon, and the overall level design is more user-friendly and forgiving than before. Most notably, your A.I. squadmates are MUCH smarter and more useful, actually capable of holding their own even in heavy firefights, compared to the first game where they would charge the enemy suicidally and end up going down in the first 10 seconds, leaving you all alone and surrounded by Locust.
Also worth noting is that A.I. squadmates gained the ability to revive other characters in 2, while downed characters gained the ability to crawl. In the first game, reviving a downed character involved running straight to whatever (presumably dangerous) spot he had been in when downed, and caused a game over if all the human players dropped (which was especially frustrating when playing solo). In 2 and 3, this is no longer the case, as a downed character can slowly crawl away from the action and be revived by player and A.I. alike. The "down=dead" rule was brought back on Insane difficulty in 3, but playing campaign in Arcade Mode swaps out the automatic mission failure for a 25-second respawn counter, with the defeat only triggering if all human players are dead simultaneously.
Gears Of War 3 continues the trend, at least on the Normal difficulty, which is even easier than the Normal difficulty of the second game. You can survive a lot of damage, especially compared to the previous 2 games, and can even "rambo" your way through many areas. Your A.I. teammates are also a lot more competent, which helps a lot.
It should be noted that Word of God is that the Nintendo Hard nature of the first game was completely unintended, and the sequels are a result of the developers making the single-player campaign more balanced.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: Gears of War 3 is the most difficult of the games to play on Insane, especially in key locations, as the inclusion of a dedicated four player campaign mode means that the enemies are more numerous and tougher. This holds true mostly for the basic Campaign Mode, Arcade Mode makes things both more difficult with enemy health being higher but also easier in that you don't need to restart if one person dies, they are put on a respawn timer.
Sequel Escalation: Each game seems to aim to be manlier, gorier and darker than the last, with the exception of Judgment, which is just one single long mission with a lone objective (stop/kill Karn), broken up into levels of course, all taking place in the port area of a city. There is another bonus mission taking place later in the timeline that is also about accomplishing one single objective (procure a boat).
Sequel Hook: The ending narration of the first game is a bona-fide hook. Wait until the end of the credits of the second game for another sequel hook. The data disk Adam gives to Baird is possibly another hook on the Left Hanging segments for Gears of War 3.
The end of the "Aftermath" campaign from Gears of War: Judgement seems to imply that COG soldiers have been kidnapping people for unspecified reasons.
In Judgment, the Locust's modifications to the Markza sniper rifle to create the Breechshot included removing it's scope. Cole mocks the decision with "A sniper rifle with no scope? Ha! Those grubs are real geniuses!" (the real reason for this is, of course, Competitive Balance as the Breechshot does more damage than the Markza and can Boom, Headshot faster much like the Longshot, while also having a larger magazine than the Longshot that doesn't need to be reloaded with every shot.)
Short Range Shotgun: Averted in Gears of War 2, as the raw damage the Gnasher can inflict in close range was toned down from the first game but was balanced out by actually being an average weapon for medium range. Gears of War 3 introduces a double-barrled Sawed-Off Shotgun to give you a choice between the balanced Gnasher and this overspecialized shotgun. In fact, the Sawed Off's range is so short, the developers nicknamed it the "Bad Touch" gun since you'll need to be in that range to use it right.
Shotguns Are Just Better: You'd be hard-pressed to find somebody online in any of the 3 games who doesn't primarily use the Gnasher, and oftentimes don't take very kindly to people using anything else. Epic themselves have admitted that the Gnasher is overpowered, and that they would like to nerf it, but they won't because of the enormous backlash they would receive from the Gnasher purists who make up a large part of the community.
Shoulders of Doom: Pretty much the whole Gear armor kit should prevent any kind of movement whatsoever if it were even vaguely realistic.
The Kantus has the same ability and trademark pose as Doom's Arch-ville.
The nature of the Kryll turns the game into a Homage of Pitch Black for part of the Act 2 of the first game.
There's an achievement for killing 10000 and 100000 enemies in the first two games, respectively, called "Seriously!?", alluding to one of Marcus'sother roles.
In Gears of War 3, earning the Onyx medal for the number of times you executed a nemesis (Someone who kills you 5 times without you killing them) will award you with the title "My Name Is Inigo Montoya".
Gears of War 2 contains another Shout-Out to the same movie; one of the chapters late in the game is called "Have Fun Storming the Castle", a line from The Princess Bride.
In Gears of War 3, the medal for 500 MVP awards is Brütal Legend.
The "Architect" medal has a picture of the skull from the Crimson Omen wearing a white suit, like the Architect from The Matrix.
Sigil Spam: The Crimson Omen. Gears of War 1 and 3 both use it as a marker inexplicitly to let you know a COG Tag is nearby. The other collectibles in 3 don't get them, unfortunately, and in 2 the COG Tags don't even get them.
The mutators in added in 3 are divided into 'easy' 'hard' and 'fun' categories. The latter is composed of Big Head Mode, Flower Blood (which, sadly, disables all gore as well), Laugh Track (which is INCESSANT, like a terrible sitcom), Headless Chicken (which causes decapitated enemies to run around in a berserk rampage for a short time) and Pinata (which adds a collection minigame of sorts).
There are several multiplayer events that ramps up the silliness. Two prominent examples are the Halloween event that turns everyone's head into a jack-o'-lantern, and the "Thanksgibbing" playlist, where everyone starts with a Cluckshot that shoots explosive chickens!
Simultaneous Arcs: Gears of War 3 does this in the first act, half of which you play as Cole and his squad as they attempt to aid Marcus.
Fairly blatantly used in 2. While talking about Skorge, Marcus states he "makes RAAM look like a Goddamn pushover". Somewhat justified by linking the emergence of a "GIANT WORM!!!" to the Lightmass Bomb.
Played with in 3- you start off against the new and explode-y Lambent, and fight them and the Locust in varied intervals. By the end of the game, though, the Locust you fight are loads and loads of Myrrah's Guards along with the bigger Boomers, Grinders, Armoured Kantus, etc. Possibly a Justified Trope that Myrrah only managed to get her elite forces to keep up with her and the main Locust force is kept at bay on Azura by the COG reinforcements.
Joseph Kosinski's famous commercial for the first game where scenes of carnage are set to the tune of "Mad World". The sequel's commercial has Delta Squad drilling into Locust territory as "How It Ends" plays in the background. The main trailer for Gears of War 3 has Into Dust playing in the background.
Just to show how things are going full circle, "Mad World" gets an instrumental Dark Reprise as Dom sacrifices himself in Gears of War 3. The calm piano melody is offset by the carnage of the act.
Story to Gameplay Ratio: The first game was fairly low, it had a solid story with a beginning, middle and end but the gameplay didn't have much bearing on the story (Once Marcus and Dom do a game-enforced split-up to "cover more ground" but all it does is force you to play alone for a minute before coming back together on the same path). Gears 2 had a lot stronger storyline but carried a few similar "irrelevant to the story but cool anyway" set-ups (the deployable cover you find in the Nexus doesn't really do much). By Gears of War 3 almost all scenarios and gameplay shifts were designed to facilitate the story.
Stripperific: Averted in the third game, where this trope was mentioned in an interview. Female Gears will be wearing the same bulky armor on their upper-bodies, although they do wear skin-tight leggings instead of wearing baggy pants like the men, and by virtue of character design, they are still physically smaller than the men. They do manage to show at least some skin as Delta Squad switches to summer, sleeveless uniforms, but the game series is certainly gender balanced in Fanservice.
In the first game, your teammates' propensity for vaulting over a perfectly good piece of cover in order to charge straight into enemy fire and get shot full of holes is absolutely ridiculous. Almost certainly a form of Fake Difficulty designed to make the player do all the work instead of letting the A.I. do most of the fighting. Rectified in the sequel with smarter squadmates less likely to break cover and do this (and who also can soak much more damage).
Locust in Gears 3's Horde mode are prone to doing this. It's rather interesting to watch a sniper of all things trying to rush at a primed and ready Mulcher.
Sword Drag : running while holding a cleaver will result in this
Take Cover: THE Trope Codifier for the genre. The way Epic Games made it work compared to similar shooters was by shortening the distances you'd engage enemies (making the fighting generally more frantic) and evening out the durability of both sides (Locust are just as durable as you are). They also pointed towards playing paintball as an inspiration, as much of the game is trying to replicate the adrenaline rush you'd get in a Real Life combat situation and patiently waiting for an enemy to expose themselves. Lampshaded perfectly in the second game by Marcus:
Marcus: The Golden Rule of Gears: Take Cover or die.
Taken for Granite: Gears of War 3 features the city of Char filled with crowds of people who have been flash-fried into statues of ash, the first real depiction in the games of the absolute hell the Hammer of Dawn counterattacks have caused.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Marcus and Baird do not get along very well, though they do gradually get on friendlier terms. By the second game, they mostly throw friendly insults at each other. Explained in-universe that Baird was initially resentful of Marcus given command over him or Cole, considering at the start of the games, he and Cole outranked him or Dom and, despite Marcus being a decorated Gear and war hero, Marcus was also discharged and imprisoned who is only active again because the military doesn't have a choice.
Brought back in 3. While Marcus and Baird are now getting along, there is considerable friction between Baird and Sam in the first Acts, with them throwing all sorts of sarcastic quips at each other. The nature of their rivalry is implied to stem from Sam being Dom's new Love Interest. They ease up considerably after Dom's Heroic Sacrifice.
That Makes Me Feel Angry: Marcus sometimes shouts "Now I'm pissed!" upon being revived, and some Locust in Campaign may shout "RRRRRAAAAAGE!" while attacking you.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Gears of War 3, Myrrah calls out on humanity being a bunch of genocidal monsters, just like how they view the Locust. It almost sounds hypocritical, considering Emergence Day, until you realize Myrrah had no choice because of the Lambent.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Gears Of War 2 allows characters to use mortars, miniguns and a multitude of over-the-top weaponry to kill mere infantry. Not to mention multiple characters can chainsaw a single enemy at the same time. That's not counting the ludicrous amount of overkill inherent to using a Brumak against hapless Locust.
Averted in the racial sense, as the series is very diverse, since the humans of Sera are shattered remnant of dozens of nation.
The third game makes sure that there is always at least one female in your squad in the Campaign. The only time that you get a squad of 4 men is when Alicia is killed by RAAM in RAAM's Shadow and gets replaced by a young Jace.
You forgot in Chapter 2 - from mid-act 1 onward, the squad is the classic Delta line-up (Marcus, Dom, Baird, and Cole)
The Carmine family name, via the introduction of Clayton in Gears of War 3.
JACK gets upgraded to be helpful in combat late in the third game.
Trick Arrow: the tripwire crossbow in judgment sports arrows that will stick to walls and turn into tripwire-beam explosive traps (arguably the torque-bow's arrows qualify too)
Trope Codifier: Gears of War didn't invent cover-based shooters (that honor goes to the PS2 games Kill.Switch and Win Back), but it unquestionly took the gameplay mechanic from the realm of obscure Japanese widget to mainstream Hollywood blockbuster.
True Companions: This is Band of Brothers: The Game. In fact, the tagline for Gears of War 3 is "Brothers to The End". In the Expanded Universe, the enitre COG army is pretty much this both before and after Emergence Day. If you are a Gear, you know you can always count on every single other Gear to have your back, no matter what, even if they don't like you. Since the army is so small after Emergence Day, a large majority of Gears know every other Gear still alive.
Uncle Tomfoolery: ALL ABOARD THE COLE TRAIN, BABY!. Cole is the Expy of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, except with a very big gun. Aside from the flamboyant, boisterous actions of Cole (the "Cole Train" multiplayer skin in Gears of War 3 being the prime example), all other blacks, such as Jace, are written very 21st century.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: After spending the entire game skulking cover to cover, Gears of War 2 ends in an unstoppable juggernaut section, followed by a point-and-click Final Boss. The earlier Reaver-piloting Rail Shooter sections certainly count. Likewise, the trip to the town of Mercy in Gears of War 3 and the beautiful submarine segment to Azura, albeit somewhat boring.
Unflinching Walk: While not entirely unflinching, Tai's walking out of the debris of his squad's grindlift rig when it is destroyed has him looking quite unconcerned with the fact it just happened.
Unmoving Plaid: Judgment has a player skin like this included with the VIP Pass.
Updated Re-release: The PC version of Gears of War features several new levels in the last act that make the overall plot flow more coherently, as well as a new boss battle against a Brumak. If it's any consolation to console gamers, these levels are unoptimized and tend to lag even on bleeding edge hardware.
Vehicular Assault: Although they're technically more of a mount, all the non-Lambent Brumak fights go this way. Likewise on the various occasions that Delta has to fight Reavers on foot.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Downed characters crawl on the ground in the sequels until death. In the first game, you could leave them there, unmoving, until death via blood loss. In every game, executions are possible and encouraged, with the second game introducing weapon-exclusive executions that look excruciatingly painful. Oh, and then there's the Scorcher flamethrower.
You could just drop your meatshield instantly by swapping to another weapon and get back to fighting faster... oooorrrr you could relieve more stress by playing an animation of snapping the meatshield's neck before dropping them.
Villainous Breakdown: Towards the end of Gears of War 3, Queen Myrrah loses a lot of her previously cool and composed demeanor and becomes increasingly rabid and hysterical... fairly understandable, considering she's facing the complete annihilation of her species.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Baird and Cole. Baird and Marcus too, prevalent throughout the first game, and while toned down in the second and third it's still there.
Walking Disaster Area: Every place the C.O.G. show up seems to get attacked by Locust and/or Lambent, much to the dismay of others. The Stranded, especially Griffinnote who already had an intense hatred towards them because the city of Char was devastated by Hammer Of Dawn strikes, resulting in many people being turned into ash despise them because of this, as when the Gears shows up seeking fuel, the city gets attacked by Locust and the Stranded end up suffering heavy casualties. Paduk also expresses his distaste for the COG in "Aftermath" when the group gets repeatedly attacked on their way to get a boat.
War Is Hell: The hell that is Sera is made even worse by the constant fighting, first between the COG and the UIR, then between humanity and the Locust Horde and the Lambent. This is especially prominent in 3, when supplies are scarce, meaning an entire act is played where people are out on an ammunition run and note how long it has been since they got decent food to eat. The Locust don't have it much better by that point, being forced to degenerate completely to savagery rather than their flooded underground base of operations. The theme is actually shown again in Judgment, however.
Sofia:This isn't war, this is cruelty. Loomis: War is cruelty.
Weaponized Animal: Most of the Locust "vehicles" and some of the weapons are actully enslaved creatures from the Hollow.
We Hardly Knew Ye: The first two Carmine brothers. Averted with Kim and Tai, who are now primary characters in "RAAM's Shadow" for Gears of War 3.
We Have Reserves: The Locust Horde is described this way in supplementary material, being willing to sacrifice a hundred Drones just to kill one Gear. This is less so in Gears of War 2, where the Locust military exhibits some self-preservationist behavior, e.g. retreating and falling back, but only when on the receiving end of bad mojo, like being chased by a goddamn Brumak or the Lambent Locust, which is justified since overexposure to Imulsion would turn them into Lambent.
Don't buy the third game if you expect any sort of explanation for the Sires.
The strangeness of the queen, looking much like a human unlike the rest of the Locust, and even surviving the anti-Imulsion and Locust superweapon, is noted by Baird before it happens, and it is never explained.
What's with the disk Adam gives to Baird? One thing's for sure, you won't find out in the same game.
World-Healing Wave: Adam Fenix's machine neutralizes the Lambent parasite across the entire world, killing anything infected by it as well, including Adam, Fenix's father.
Would Hit a Girl: Berserkers; you'd better hit them HARD or else they'll rip you to shreds. In the third game, the Locust and Lambent have no qualms about shooting, downing and executing female Gears.
Would Hurt a Child: In the expansion RAAM's Shadow for Gears of War 3, a small child gets put into an evacuation transport only to be pulled underground by a Corpser the second the transport pulls away.
Done by headshots from almost all weapons in Gears of War if they hit your head when it does enough damage to deplete your Hit Points. They even sell an action figure of a Drone with its head a-sploding.
Gears of War 3 hilariously introduces a "Mutator" for Arcade Mode and Horde 2.0. What does it do? Enemies victim to would-be-fatal headshots frantically run around the map attacking anything without mercy. Makes for funny moments when all that's left of their craniums is a bloodied stump while managing to continue screaming.
Your Mom: Prescott gets furious if you lose a multiplayer round.
Prescott: I wish your indigent fathers had never met your indulgent mothers!
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The Resonator fails. Even after that, the Lightmass Bomb is insufficient to wipe the Locust out. In the sequel, sinking Jacinto isn't enough to stop the persistent creatures permanently.
Zombie Apocalypse: The Lambent, more so once the infection is discovered to spread to humans.
Ate His Gun: General Bardry Salaman, who was unable to live with himself after having helped carry out the Hammer of Dawn counterattack. At least, that's the cover story that was given for his relocation to Azura.
The Atoner: Hoffman. He feels horrible about leaving Marcus to die in prison, but can't bring himself to apologize. He makes up for it by ignoring Marcus and Anya breaking regulations and having a relationship.
Bad Ass: A ton, just like the games, but some notable ones are Captian Miran Trescu and Major Helena Stroud, both of whom most of the other characters really admire for their fighting skills.
Child Soldiers: Delta captures a fifteen-year old Stranded insurgent on Vectes, though Baird insists that his age makes him an adult.
Continuity Nod: Many between all the books. Considering that each is written by the same author and each has a flashback storyline and one set in the present that relate to each other, it really isn't any surpise.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: At one point Queen Myrrah remarks that the Locust could have cooperated with the Humans to save both species, but decided to go to total war instead because supposedly Humans Are the Real Monsters who "only understand dominance and ownership". Not to mention violent to an extreme. Then again, if you first encountered the Seran humans after 100 years of war (and untold years before hand of unrest) which included nukes and kill sats on their own species, you might be a little wary of approaching them as a completely different species altogether.
Crapsack World: If the games didn't make it clear, the horrible event in the books really will show how terrible a place Sera is, even before the Locust emerged.
While the townspeople of Pelruan and the Gorasini have every reason to hate Stranded, thats no reason to be mean to and attack Dizzy and his daughters.
The COG also heavily discriminated against any non-COG ethnic groups, and even some of those allied with them.
Gunship Rescue: Many times, just like in the games. Subverted once as well: during a Lambent assault on Pelruan, KR-33 attempts to take out a mutated Leviathan. It's quickly destroyed by the Leviathan shooting explosive polyps at it.
Heroic BSOD: Friendly Sniper Padrick Salton begins suffering one after the death of his spotter. It becomes even worse after he scouted the areas hit by the Hammer of Dawn counterattack that killed most of the human population.
Heroic Sacrifice: During the Battle of Aspho Fields, Helena Stroud, Anya's mother, sacrifices herself to take out an Indie anti-aircraft vehicle so COG air support could assist in the battle. Somewhat averted in that she didn't mean to die on the Asp; her armor just caught on the vehicle, which exploded before she could cut herself free.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Baird. However much he may claim he doesn't care about anyone else but himself and maybe Cole, he sure takes a lot of risks he doesn't need to for others, and even attempts to comfort them in his own unique Jerk Ass way.
Skeleton Government: Basically all that is left of the government 15 years after E-Day is Prescott.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Federic Rojas was a young Gear who joined Delta in Aspho Fields, and the younger brother of a Gear in Gears of War 1 who was in Alpha Squad. He is never mentioned in any of the books or comics that take place after it.
You Say Tomato: Bernie is questioned about her accent several times, mostly about saying "arse" instead of "ass".