What do you do when you come into possession of a copy of Gears of War 3 and your taste in games is decidedly more Super Mario Brothers? You find someone with an Xbox 360 who is down to play and can, hopefully, show you the ropes.
I'm not a gamer. I like what I played as a child– arcade staples and classic Nintendo titles– and, as an adult, I look for games that share similar sensibilities to the old school time-wasters. Last summer at E3, I was drawn towards Atari's revamped versions of Warlords and Centipede, Sega's Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics and Konami's Frogger 3D. I thought indie game Skulls of the Shogun was really cool because it reminded me of the 8-bit quests of my youth. I flipped over Skullgirls because fighting games can be fun even when you aren't very good at them. Admittedly, though, the third-person shooter games that have hit blockbuster status in recent years go over my head.
I know full well that I'm not part of the intended audience for a game like Gears of War 3. My cousin, on the other hand, is. He's a teenage Xbox player and a fan of Call of Duty. He's also familiar with Gears of War 2. My cousin, then, became my game guru for this project.
My cousin traversed the game's war torn, sci-fi world with much greater ease. He says that while the “campaigns” change from game to game, the way you play them doesn't. Though I've tried a few third-person shooter games before, I hadn't played any long enough to really get the hang of it. Trying to orientate my character in the proper direction was enough of a task.
The cool thing about a game like Gears of War 3, though, is that it's collaborative, rather than competitive. My cousin, nice guy that he is, found me a few times to help lead me down a path and show me where the extra weapons were. I am extremely grateful for his efforts. The fact remains, however, that I suck at games like this.
Twenty minutes into our two-person session, I was stunned by the fact that I wasn't dead. There were a few close calls, but I had been revived each time. It took about a half hour before we got the first “operation failed” message, something which was completely my fault, and my only disappointment was that it took so long.
My cousin mentioned that it seemed like it's a lot easier to get killed in Call of Duty than in Gears of War.
“You're not familiar with the old Nintendo games are you?” I asked, knowing full well what the answer would be.
My favorite games are the ones where you learn by getting your ass kicked three times in a matter of minutes, start over at the beginning, and repeat the process, gradually improving your skills until, months later, you finally save the princess.
While I can appreciate Gears of War 3 for its artwork and story, I couldn't get sucked into the game. It felt like I was spending too much time meandering until I stumbled upon a new battle. Like war itself, the game moved slowly, with long periods of silence interrupted by bloody battles.
As we played, the generation gap between two people who grew up playing video games became more obvious. My cousin enjoyed Gears of War. He liked the sci-fi setting as well as the game itself. While I enjoyed it as well, I couldn't help but wish I was about to enter the biggest, baddest boss battle against Bowser instead.