10. Minh Young Kim
“I’ve got the codes.” Any hardcore Gears of War fan would know this quote like the back of their hands. Minh Kim, while receiving relatively little screentime, made enough of a mark to make some fans and also appear in some DLC.
Adding cultural diversity to the original Delta Squad, as well as a tough-as-nails attitude to the mix, Kim kept the squad grounded in reality and focused on the mission while Marcus Fenix, Dominic Santiago, and Anthony Carmine either constantly bantered or talked about what it was like before “E-Day.” While not as characterized as much as a decent amount of the rest of the cast, Kim’s bitter and heroic end proved anyone was expendable of the “ignorance is bliss” planet of Sera.
9. Adam Fenix
He was talked about in the first Gears of War, as well as Gears of War 2, but Adam Fenix hit his stride in Gears of War 3. Gears 3 begins with a great explanation of why Marcus was imprisoned in Gears of War 1 in the first place. As those who played Gears of War 3, or even those who are aware of the lore, know, Marcus was in jail because he abandoned the COG’s in order to assist his father, an important gear, of sorts, in the machine that was going to eventually defeat the Locust army.
Unfortunately, however, Adam Fenix didn’t get much screentime, and clearly the COG army didn’t care enough about him to even acknowledge his existence throughout the series, even if it turned out to be Marcus’ true intent to find him. In the end, Adam Fenix, helped to start the restoration of humanity after the long feud that ravaged the planet of Sera and forced most of its population to risk their lives in fighting the Locusts. This was only made sadder by the moment in which Adam Fenix dies by his son after his victory over the enemy Marcus had fought for so long. For this, Adam Fenix is a hero in saving the human race.
8. Dominic Santiago
Some might say he deserves to be higher on the list, while some might say he doesn’t deserve to be on the list at all. Frankly, the latter statement is unfair. Dominic Santiago, or Dom, was one of the important pillars that might have stopped the games’ campaigns from being disasters. Without Dom and his charisma, there are many moments that wouldn’t have hit as hard or have made players laugh. Where Marcus was constantly stone-faced, Dom tended to lighten the mood.
Unfortunately, this only applies to some situations. In the next two games, Dom’s comedic behavior or even occasional whimsy were nowhere to be seen. He was honestly a little depressing. A common complaint among players, including myself, was that his grieving over the abduction of his wife, and then the death of his wife, became extremely agonizing. At some point, Marcus or somebody probably should have slapped him out of it, but unfortunately for us, that wasn’t really in the cards.
This bickering doesn’t really solve that much, though, because Dom is, at the end of the day, a very good character. Well-written and voice-acted, Dom was never the games’ biggest problem. His relationship with Marcus was one of the greatest “bromances” throughout any game. First- and third-person shooters with burly meathead duos all the time, but none have been executed nearly as well as that of Marcus and Dom. This is only made more apparent when Dom saves the gang’s lives by sacrificing his own, cuing the instrumental version of “Mad World.” Rest in piece, Dom. We truly miss you.
7. Queen Myrrah
Most of the villains throughout the series were very bland and acted merely as a reminder that they will likely be the final boss. General RAAM and Skorge are prime examples. While intimidating, there was that lingering of “this thing will die eventually. This was not the case with Queen Myrrah.
A Darth Vader type, minus the black suit, deep voice, and Force powers, Queen Myrrah was always the puppeteer of the destruction of Sera. When Jacinto went down despite the COG’s best efforts, it was Myrrah’s doing. When Marcus’ friends and allies went down, it was Myrrah’s doing. When humanity was suffering from the underground army of Locusts, it was Myrrah’s doing. All the pain and misery experienced by everybody, including the player, was caused by Myrrah. Naturally, this would make the player want to hate her, but one could think of it more as a “love to hate” relationship, rather than simply hate.
Think Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad. Throughout a good portion of the series, he sought any way to make Walter White experience deep pain, physically and emotionally, but viewers enjoyed it because he was so well-executed. Such is the case with Queen Myrrah. Furthermore, credit goes to the writers for not just making some cutout bad guy. Instead, players got a seemingly omni-present, calculating villain that had clear motives and received a satisfying death. Hopefully, we’ll get to see an antagonist equally, if not more, effective villain in Gears of War 4.
6. Dizzy Wallin
Anyone could easily write Dizzy off as a representation of a truck-driving, gun-toting stereotype, but they’d be wrong. Always packing serious firepower and seemingly the owner of the most exotic vehicles made to destroy Locust hordes by the dozen, Dizzy is not ill-prepared. Moreover, like Dom, he is very charismatic, to the point where players relish every moment Dizzy is seen on-screen.
Dizzy, as one of the most confident COG’s, gives no reason to let the player doubt that they will fail the mission. His yee-haws and similar yells of excitement are very encouraging. This carries over to multiplayer as well. His expressions of victory are inspiring and are actually very funny. One of the most optimistic characters, Dizzy Wallin is the one guy you’ll want on your team come the day that an army of muscular aliens with no nose comes out of the ground to attack humanity.
5. Marcus Fenix
Probably the closest combination of Duke Nukem and Joel from The Last of Us, Marcus Fenix is a nuanced anti-hero that gets brownie points for trying to do the right thing by attempting to save his dad from certain doom, even if it means getting court-martialed. He values friends and family, but he is an effective soldier with a gun equipped with a chainsaw bayonet. He is loyal and typically follows the rules. In other words, he is a fairly complex character.
However, like Duke Nukem, he has a great distaste for aliens. He ruthlessly chainsaws through them, counts as he gets headshots on them, and is able to survive the most dangerous situations by coming up with unconventional solutions. According to Marcus, if you’re ever inside a giant worm, be sure to chainsaw your way out of it, leading to getting soaked in gallons of worm blood.
In the end, though, Marcus Fenix is a good protagonist. Not a pushover by any means, but also not a rebel, Marcus understands the rules of the game. To call him a badass would be true, but badasses are usually people who usually intend to do cool things without really thinking it through. In this sense, Marcus is a thoughtful badass. Relatable, but larger than life, Marcus is the ultimate hero within the Gears universe.
4. Tai Kaliso
It’s disappointing how little screentime Tai got in Gears of War 2. The most collected character by all means, Tai is able to fully assess the situation without jumping to conclusions and forming a plan based on that. Where the situation is very intense, Tai is able to calm the player through his ability to stay cool through the situation.
That is why it made me so sad when Tai had to bite the dust in a chilling moment where the player, along with Delta Squad, realizes he was brainwashed by the Locusts. Of course, it may have been fitting for him to do as soon as he did. The player needed to realize the Locusts are a force to be reckoned with, and even the bravest among us can fall prey to their tactics.
3. Aaron Griffin
Brought to life brilliantly by Ice-T, who gave him a great personality, Aaron Griffin was a leader with a temper; something Marcus was not fond of. Sassy and wearing some pretty awesome sunglasses, Aaron Griffin was not afraid to let you know when you stepped out of line. Unfortunately, Marcus learned this the hard way.
However, much like Tai, Aaron got such a small amount of screentime. For this very entertaining and compelling character, one would think Epic Games would want him to get as much screentime as possible, but players at least got to enjoy every moment possible with Aaron. Also, who knows? Perhaps, at some point in Gears of War 4, Aaron Griffin might show up again.
2. Damon Baird
Where or where to begin with Baird? Baird was the best Han Solo-type character that could have happened to the series. While lacking the charisma that Han Solo had, and lucking a princess lust after, Baird made up for it in his ambition and sarcasm. Similarly disdained by the COG army like Marcus, but for much different reasons, Baird is a likable character that is an understandably disgruntled, but very witty, soldier who was unfairly mistreated for what he had done prior to the first three Gears games.
This was explained in the prequel, Gears of War: Judgment, where it is shown why Baird became the pessimistic rebel he was in the original trilogy. However, while Baird’s whining was annoying, he was very useful for his experience as a mechanic and proved to be an important part of Delta Squad. The dynamic between Marcus and Baird was also very entertaining and Baird’s constant quips made for some seriously funny dialogue. However, without Baird, Delta Squad’s exchanges may have been far more dry and would allow for no entertainment between skirmishes. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case.
1. Augustus “Cole Train” Cole
It’s the Cole Train, baby! Augustus “Cole Train” Cole was easily the best thing to happen to the Gears series. Always up for a fight and never willing to give up, the Cole Train is the most likable character in the series. Combining the best traits of the rest of the squad, including Baird’s wit, Dom’s charisma, and Marcus’ compassion, the COG army was lucky to have someone like Cole enlisted with them.
A former Thrashball player with a lot of heart, Cole could be a one-man army. He even proves this in a cutscene in Gears of War 2, where he meets up with Delta Squad after having taken down a whole group of Locusts in style. With Cole, there is never a dull moment. He always puts a big smile on the player’s face.
Somehow the most innocent character of the series, he is also the most relatable of the characters. Much like Cole, we don’t really understand why Queen Myrrah would want to fight us, but we are enjoying every second of it!
With nearly every video game series, it is usually the main character players like most. In Halo, Master Chief is the most recognizeable character whose visor we see out of. He is also the guy gamers started the war with, so it’s hard not to call him the best character of that series. Nathan Drake is the best character in the Uncharted series because the action is always focused on him and he is very well-written. Finally, Mario is usually the favorite because he is the guy we jump and throw fireballs as. Sure, we fire machine guns with Marcus Fenix, but Cole is what gives the series that extra oomph needed to bring the characters to life, and, to some extent, the story, to life.
Minh Young Kim
Adding cultural diversity to the original Delta Squad, as well as a tough-as-nails attitude to the mix, Kim kept the squad grounded in reality and focused on the mission while Marcus Fenix, Dominic Santiago, and Anthony Carmine either constantly bantered or talked about what it was like before “E-Day.” While not as characterized as much as a decent amount of the rest of the cast, Kim's bitter and heroic end proved anyone was expendable of the “ignorance is bliss” planet of Sera.