Gaming’s Most Memorable Hispanic Characters: Dominic Santiago

Sections: Consoles, Features, Originals, Xbox-360

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Dominic SantiagoAmerica observes National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 – October 15. It’s a time to reflect on the cultural contributions from millions of citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. GamerTell thought it would be a perfect opportunity to look at some of the notable Hispanic characters in some of our favorite games. Our hobby tells thousands of stories over the course of a single calendar year. As it grows more diverse, so do the tales it tells. Obviously we can’t discuss these characters without spilling some story details, so these features will be spoiler heavy.

The Gears of War series captivated gamers across the world, and was a true system seller for Microsoft’s Xbox 360. It tells the story of Delta Squad, a group of soldiers battling an enemy that came from under the ground. The Locust Horde and humanity are locked in combat over planet Sera, and both sides will do anything to eliminate the other.

On a grand scale, they’re fighting for the survival of their race and the fate of their planet. Like so many soldiers, they’re fighting with their family’s safety foremost in their minds. Dominic Santiago joined the army in the first place to support his wife Maria and their children. But Emergence Day ruined their world. The Locust’s initial assault killed Maria’s parents and the children, who had gone to stay with their grandparents. Neither Dom or Maria ever forgave themselves, and she slipped deep into depression. She would still clean their rooms and go for long walks as if the children were still alive. She vanished, and finding her becomes Dom’s most important mission.

Santiago is fiercely loyal to his friends,  none more so than Marcus Fenix. The pair are more like brothers, and Fenix wouldn’t be alive had Dom not testified on his behalf during his trial. Fenix faced a dereliction of duty charge and could have been put to death. Telling the truth cost Santiago a promotion to corporal, but earned him the respect of his colleagues.

Lieutenant Colonel James Amstin praised him, though he didn’t recommend him for corporal.

“Santiago is an exemplary soldier and one of the most courageous men I’ve ever met..” he said. “However, even if I have to refuse his promotion, I’ll state privately that this is a man I can only admire for his refusal to abandon a friend, knowing what it would cost him.”

Dom is the heart of Delta Squad in so many ways, and playing the games you hope that he’ll find his wife against overwhelming odds. He finally does, but her already fragile mind has been destroyed by the Locust. She’s a hollow, mindless shell and he’s forced to end her life.

The Dom we see in Gears 3 has lost everything he was fighting for. He’s let his beard grow out, and the humorous facade he put up during the first two games is gone. Finding Maria’s family tomb after a battle, he places his COG tags and her necklace on the tombstone. Perhaps he never really expected to make it out of this war alive. Without his wife, he no longer wants to.

With Delta Squad under attack by overwhelming numbers of Locust and Lambent, Santiago realizes there’s only one way anyone gets out of this alive:

His sacrifice allows his squad to survive against all odds, and live to end the war tearing Sera apart. Dominic Santiago was unable to save his wife, but in death he saved his entire world.



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