Act 4 is an interesting beast. Quite a bit happens, but there isn’t too much to say. So this week, we’re trying something different with regards to layout.
Ashes to Ashes starts with Marcus being solemn, having just lost his brother. His facial expressions, body language, and eye movement are all amazing. Epic has some very talented animators.
We’re in Char, which is a city hit directly by the Hammer strikes. The people evacuating from the city were instantly turned to ash. For 15 years their remains have remained in the same place, depicting the final moments of these civilians. It’s a mass grave, and Marcus recommends that respect is shown for the dead. It’s chilling, but also somewhat beautiful. We see people running in panic, some carrying their children, others huddling together in fear. Some of the remains have flowers growing around them… life from death.
The atmosphere of this area could be a lot more solemn. However, the music once again ruins the mood. Unlike the rest of the times where the music could be changed to be less overtly eerie, this chapter could benefit from having no music. In effect, a moment of silence for those who have died; not just the ash people we walk among, but for Dom as well.
It should be noted that Marcus and his Gears are showing respect for the dead. The Ash Man, who sets off traps for the squad, shows none. Also, while chasing the Ash Man, Jace is annoying. Hell, Jace is always annoying. Upon reaching Griffin’s tower, the Stranded there open fire on Marcus’ squad, to which he says:
Marcus: Hold your fire! We’re Gears!
Anya: Maybe they can’t hear you?
Marcus: Oh, they can hear me. I said hold your fire, you fuckin’ assholes!
Then stalks come out, and the Stranded start shooting the Lambent instead.
Marcus: Oh yeah, sure, now you can fuckin’ hear me!
Marcus never swears like that. He’s clearly very upset about Dom’s death.
After the fight, Jace says, “Unbelievable, [the Ash Man is] coming down. Let’s see what this fuckin’ asshole has to say for himself.” Repeating Marcus makes Jace come off as sounding like a child. I am reminded of Farber—Shia Lebouf’s character from I, Robot—and how Detective Spooner tells him to stop cussin’ because he’s bad at it. It’s another reason not to like Jace.
The Ash Man tells us on the elevator up…
Ash Man: “Great view from up here. Can really see the mess [the COG] made from the Hammer strikes.”
Sam: “Listen, fuckstick, we just saved your asses from the glowies. We’re still fighting and dying out there.”
…which tells us that Sam does not respect these Stranded. They’re filthy cowards, and were quick to turn on fellow their fellow Stranded. Recall the last time something filthy shot at her: the Savage Locust on Centennial Bridge in 1-6. Sam sees humanity as being better than the Locust. She sees herself, and her fellow Gears, as being better than this tribe. Speaking of tribes, Griffin is referred to as the Chief, and his people look very tribal in their appearance; this lends credit to the idea that ‘Stranded’ refers to the tribal, camp-based lifestyle that we’ve seen throughout the games so far.
Griffin tells us that the ash remains on the surface were his workforce, employees, and family. He doesn’t want the remains disturbed. Well, the Ash Man purposefully disturbed them. Additionally, this line of dialogue doesn’t change if you make it to the tower without touching any of the bodies. At least the weapons locker opens up and access to the Precious is granted, though.
Oh, and Griffin has gold-plated weapons on the wall of his office.
After Griffin takes Dizzy captive, the next chapter takes place around the Char crater—epicenter of the Hammer strike here. Jace mentions how hard it must have been to activate the system, and Anya states that she was there. She was there when Prescott pulled the trigger, as was Colonel Hoffman and General Bardry—Bardry would go on to kill himself about 6 months later, after which Hoffman takes his place.
Inside the refinery:
Jace: “This place is deserted.”
Anya: “Maybe they abandoned the place and moved somewhere safer.”
Like how Mercy was abandoned?
At the top of the refinery, we can look down to crater and see where we have been. It’s nice to see where we’ve been, as it gives us a chance to reflect on how we got to where we are. This is the primary reason why Act 1 wasn’t as good as it could have been, because there was no way to look back on what we had seen (or would be seeing, thanks to metagaming). It creates a sense of continuity in us, gives us the impression that we are occupying real spaces instead of a series of highly decorated corridors.
With that in mind, Griffin’s towers are stupidly designed. No one in the real world would design a tower like these because it’s not conducive to a working environment. It’s good level design, being interconnected with itself and wrapping around and reconnecting. It just doesn’t work as a real, livable space. Fun play space, though.
When Myrrah attacks, it’s very apparent how large the Tempest is. Previous sightings didn’t really give a very good indicator of size. The bug is huge. Oh, and Sam comments, “That bitch is definitely following us.” Which is all well and good, but the only person in the squad who would have seen the queen before now is Marcus. Therefore, the only person the queen is following is Marcus.
When we get back to Griffin’s tower via cable car, we can see that Griffin took his gold-plated weapons off the wall. The man clearly has his priorities in order. His people are dying, and his first concern is to take his golden weapons with him.
Then Griffin starts ranting at Marcus about how he just lost all of his people, who survived the Locust and the Hammer strikes and blah blah blah. Marcus’ rebuttal is that he just lost his brother… in the Zero Punctuation review, Yahtzee mentions how stupid this rebuttal is. It really is a stupid thing to say. In fact, I think the only reason Griffin backs down is because he knows Marcus is just about ready to kick his ass off the tower. That’s DLC I’d pay for. Let’s end this post with the Zero Punctuation review: