Enjoying games you thought you'd hate

I’ve been a Nintendo fanboy my whole life. Traversing through water temples, backtracking in Brinstar and warping in green pipes made me into a gamer. However, I just played a game so unlike these others. In fact, I don’t think the game was meant for someone like me.

I’ve never been opposed to other consoles, like some “Nintendo Master Race” guy (if that exists). A second console has just never been something I could justify for myself without morphing into my couch, staying up all night and losing all forms of real human interaction. But mostly because I couldn’t justify it financially for myself.

I had played Playstation, Xbox and PC games with friends in the past but I didn’t have one I could call my own. Then that changed.

Recently, I was gifted an unopened Xbox One. Who wouldn’t take that? My journey into new worlds was about to begin. I didn’t know where to start. I grabbed an Xbox 360 game from my father-in-law and launched into my inaugural Microsoftian gaming experience.

Gears of War.

Marcus Fenix, the series protagonist.

Immediately I knew that this game was not made for me. But as someone who wants to expand my horizons, I couldn’t give up. I couldn’t surrender.

Rundown of Gears of War

Gears of War focuses on Marcus Fenix, a "hat down to the eyebrows," top-heavy bro who probably has Avenged Sevenfold at the top of his playlist. Fenix is tasked with saving humanity from the Locust Horde: a bunch of butt-ugly reptilians on steroids. You basically have to mow them down by spraying bullets or sawing them in half with your conveniently placed chainsaw bayonet (you were right all along, USA Today).

Remember when USA Today posted this? That was hilarious, man.

You and your team of other extremely beefy dudes (that were definitely on the football team in high school) are directed by in-ear comm. devices to go through dilapidated buildings and retrieve vaguely important objects that are supposed to beat the bad guys. Or something like that. Insert techno babble.

Oh yeah, and you're supposed to collect a bunch of "cog" tags, apparently from fellas that were killed in action. But I kind of forgot about that until halfway through the game.

Mission by mission, your squad fails and only narrowly escapes death. It’s a real uplifting narrative. Pure gumdrops and unicorns.

The Good

Gears of War has some really neat things tucked in there.

Killin’ bad guys

There is something very satisfying and testosterone-churning about blasting big, muscly reptilian alien things to smithereens. Getting a nice headshot on one of those “Boomer” creatures, some of the bigger threats in the game, feels really nice. But really, this isn’t the type of thing I look for in games. I’m not inherently opposed to violence, guns or blood in video games, but this one boasts in its chaotic violence. Even though it’s just not my thing, I still enjoyed it.

Mechanics

Combat was just pure fun. The mechanic of finding cover, peeking out to shoot, diving and using that awesome chainsaw bayonet made it a blast. At times, I was reminded of a polished version of those duck-and-cover shooter games in an arcade. You know, the ones with that metal pedal on the ground?

Characters

The camaraderie between the cast of characters was enjoyable. Whether they were busting each others’ balls or covering their backs, it was fun to watch them interact and dialogue.

This blends well with the co-op gameplay. While I played the campaign by myself, it seems like a modern day Contra: The kind of game you can play through in one night with a buddy and a couple 2-liters of Mountain Dew.

Yet, again. These characters are personifications of the kind of guys I would have difficulty interacting with in person beyond small talk. We’d have nothing in common. They’d talk about football, lifting weights and other super manly things and I’d be like “Have you seen La La Land?” or “Want to play Splatoon 2?” Either way, it was cool to look into their world.

The Bad

I don’t have too many complaints except that the game was not made for me. No matter how many people say how wonderful the series is, I had to acknowledge that I wasn’t the primary audience in order to enjoy the game. I could imagine someone who strictly plays first-person shooters needing to do the same thing for their first side-scrolling platformer.

Otherwise, some story and gameplay aspects could have been beefed up to get closer to what I'm looking for in a game. But that's all subjective.

The Verdict

Gears of War - Christian's rating

Takeaways

Playing something new can help you learn more about why you love gaming. It can help you find something new or experience a game that you never would have played otherwise. That’s exactly my experience with Gears of War. In fact, I may even finish out the series.

This doesn’t have to only be about gaming. Try something new. Go out on a limb and don’t be afraid of liking something that doesn’t match up with your personality or self image.

What game expanded your horizons?