[Update: With Gears of War 3 releasing Tuesday, we had to bring this back (originally published, August 2, 2010. Also, read our Gears of War 3 review]

Say what you want about Cliff Bleszinski – but the man has style. While other developers have been focused on proving that videogames can be art, Bleszinski and the Epic Games team were combining chainsaws with automatic weapons and redefining dismemberment physics.

It should come as no surprise that, when the decision needed to be made as to whether or not an admittedly insignificant character should be shuffled off his digital coil in the upcoming Gears of War 3, Epic chose the road less traveled. Specifically, the developer has placed the fate of the eldest Carmine brother, Clay Carmine, in the hands of Gears fans.

Surprisingly, this seems to something of a polarizing decision for the Gears faithful – a group of gamers who have been weaned on a steady dose of slicing countless locust hordes apart with a lancer. While message boards and comment sections across the vastness of the internet have been filled with the ravening blood-thirsty rabble expected of 21st century online mob-ocracy, in this case there also seems to be an equal number of compassionate online warriors dedicated to the proposition that even pixelated lives are sacred.

Epic’s solution to this moral quandary is a partnership with Child’s Play that launches a three-pronged attack on our hearts and minds.

gears of war 3 carmine save die

The rules are simple. As of Thursday, July 29th, Epic has made available two Xbox Live Avatar shirts for the very reasonable price of 80 Microsoft points with the proceeds going to Child’s Play – a charity that supplies toys, games, books, and cash for sick kids. The shirts are red or black and say either “Carmine Must Die” or “Save Carmine,” respectively. Whichever shirt sells the most, wins. So whether you love democracy, charity, or free market economies, Epic’s given you a reason to participate.

The only remaining question is, what will you choose?

After all, life or death isn’t a decision that should be made lightly. So now that you’ve had a few days to mull it over, Game Rant‘s Riley Little and Jonathan Poole go toe-to-toe in an effort to sway your decision about the fate of Clay Carmine.

Gears of War 3 Save Carmine Die

Carmine Must Die by Jonathan Poole

Look, guys, I’m not a sadist. I don’t enjoy being a voyeur to suffering. I’d just as soon sit down with a group of Locusts and play a rousing game of Scrabble in a show of positive bi-species interaction as I would stick ’em with grenades and run like hell. But the former just isn’t how the Gears universe works. Above all, Gears of War is a story of survival, dependence on your friends and loyalty in the face of inevitable destruction. There’s no happy ending here for anyone – and that’s part of the reason that Carmine must die.

But believe me, friends, I don’t say this because of maliciousness and I’m definitely not looking forward to Carmine’s death – in order to satisfy some kind of perverse gratification. Rather, Carmine’s death could serve as a fitting turning point in the overall narrative. Allow me to explain.

The death of the first Carmine brother, Anthony, was important because it showed that death in the Gears universe is persistent and unrelenting. While Lieutenant Kim was killed in a dramatic fashion by General RAAM, Anthony Carmine was simply shot in the head after his rifle jammed. Anthony’s death was almost meaningless and, in a way, much more potent for the casualness with which it happened.

Gears of War 3 Save Carmine Die

The death of the second Carmine brother, Benjamin, was important because of his innocence. Overeager in conversation and green on the field of battle, wondering when Benjamin might die was nerve-wracking. When his death finally came after falling out of a helicopter, subsequently his chest was melted by parasites, we were again shown the indifferent nature of the Gears universe. Once again, a Carmine brother died for nothing.

The reason that Clay Carmine must die is to show us that sometimes, occasionally, there is victory in death. I don’t want Clay’s death to be comical or arbitrary, I want it to mean something, to inspire hope. Unlike Anthony and Benjamin, I want Clay to go out in a blaze of glory; a blaze that ensures that the Carmine name is burned deeply into the history of Sera, white-hot and unavoidable. I want Clay to redeem the Carmine name so that it stands for sacrifice – unflinching obedience to duty and victory at any cost.

The point would be particularly fitting – as many equate the Carmine brothers with the average, anonymous COG soldier.

In short, Clayton must die so that the Carmine legend might live.

Check out the second page of our Curious Case of Clay Carmine coverage – for the “Save Carmine” take.

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