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- Gears 5
There’s no getting around it: Gears 5 has a weird roster. Even without any additions, Marcus Fenix can battle it out with Sarah Connor, a T-1000, and two Spartans from Halo: Reach. As of this Sunday, former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Batista joins the fray after running a social media campaign to star in a Gears of War film. The man known as The Animal is absolutely perfect for the world of Gears, but he’s not the first famous grappler to pop over into other virtual worlds. Before you get General RAAM up for the Batista Bomb, dive back into history with these other notable games that brought gaming into the squared circle.
Gears 5 Batista | The Rock says there’s Nowhere to Run
You can’t start investigating this topic without discussing wrestling’s most successful crossover star. Hollywood leading man Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been in quite a few games over the years thanks to the countless WWE games and movies he’s starred in. There’s 2002’s The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian, a licensed character action game based on one of his first leading roles. You’ve also got the upcoming Jumanji: The Video Game, a third-person action-adventure based on the sequel to the Jumanji reboot. However, the most interesting title in his library is based on a movie that was never made.
Released in 2006 on Xbox and PS2, Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run is one of the only movie tie-ins to release without the movie it was tying into. Combine that with the fact that it was coming out a year after the Xbox 360’s premiere, and Nowhere to Run seemed destined for obscurity from the start. It’s a middling action game that is certainly of its era, but there’s some goofy fun in getting out of your machine gun car and issuing the Rock Bottom to random goons on the streets. Funnily enough, the Spy Hunter film that inspired this game made has had production news as recently as November of 2015. If the movie ever does make it to theaters, it’d be an amazing time to issue a remaster of this forgotten bit of history.
Gears 5 Batista | Put on the glasses
From movies based on games to games taking the plots from movies, Saints Row has always had a love of professional wrestling, even before it got really weird. Your character in The Third could attack enemies and random passerby with bulldogs and hurricanranas with ease. Former champions Hulk Hogan and Rob Van Dam showed up to lend their voices to side characters and an entire faction full of Mexican luchadors. However, as much wrestling love as that is, there wasn’t an actual wrestler in sight. For Saints Row 4, developer Volition upped the ante with a loving tribute to the signature film performance of the legendary “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
Smack dab in the middle of the campaign, your character runs into a full-on pastiche of the fight from They Live with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. If you’ve not seen the John Carpenter classic, just know that it features two grown men epically fighting over sunglasses for what feels like an hour. After reliving the brawl, Roddy helps you rescue actor (and in-game Vice President) Keith David from the alien simulation. He also becomes a homie you can call in for other missions and features fully voiced side content with the rest of the cast. The appearance even includes vocal work from the man himself and his authentic WWE entrance music. Truly, it was a great tribute to the man just two years before his untimely passing in 2015.
Gears 5 Batista | Taking it to Kamurocho
While WWE has been the main game in town when it comes to wrestling for the last decade, it is not the only series in town. In Japan, the stars of New Japan Pro-Wrestling put on five-star matches that regularly impress fans the world over. Since they’ve achieved superstar status, it only makes sense that they’d appear in games made in their homeland. Enter the long-running Yakuza series. For 2016’s Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu runs into a gang of six notable street toughs during a side quest. Each of these hooligans bears the likeness and moves of a New Japan star, which is a huge deal.
For comparison’s sake, it would be like if the next Halo game had a single level where you drive a Warthog around with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H, and Sting. These aren’t staring roles and they don’t affect the plot on an ongoing basis; they just serve as a fun nod to fans. Well, at least that’s the case in America. It’s probably a bit more cynically minded in Japan where the stars are all over advertising for the then-relevant Wrestle Kingdom 12. Even so, their inclusion in the American translation is the type of move that cements these games as windows into Japanese culture for overseas otaku.
Gears 5 Batista | Inside this pit of danger
— Poor Kid Who Chased His Dreams. (@DaveBautista) September 3, 2019
While some wrestler cameos are solely for promotional purposes, you get the feeling that Dave Bautista sincerely wants to be in Gears. Like Ice-T’s turn as Aaron Griffin in Gears of War 3, Batista is a known fan of the franchise. He’s described himself as “knocking down the door” of films rights holders Universal Studios trying to become Hollywood’s Marcus Fenix. When he started work on the game, he recorded over 700 lines, and that’s just for multiplayer. With that movie seemingly in the same development hell as The Rock’s turn in Spy Hunter, it’s good that Batista will at least get to don the armor in the franchise proper. The Animal may walk alone, but he’s happy to team up with your own Delta Squad to take on the Horde.