The Weekend Gamer
Thoughts on gaming culture, living among non-gamers, and growing up in the nintendo generation

Teaching My Wife Gears 2–Round 2!

Round 2 of Gears of War happened this week, with more mixed results.  The second level of Gears 2 is the now infamous on rails level that was demoed over and over earlier this year.  While it was panned for being a bit one dimensional, it was not without its challenges.  Two platforms side by side, moving both horizontally and vertically, and bouncing, is not the easiest environment in which to learn how to move and aim with two analog sticks, as Rachel quickly found out.

Gears is actually a pretty good game for her to learn the basic skills necessary to play an FPS for two reasons:

  1. Different difficulty levels for each player–this is the first game I’ve seen where one player can be on one difficulty level, and the other on another difficulty level.  It means that I can have a sufficient challenge, and at the same time, Rachel’s character is harder to kill, and is more lethal than mine.  What that means is that she can contribute to the action, without simply walking behind me while I do everything.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times when that does happen, but she’s definitely able to take part without feeling completely frustrated.
  2. Predictable Enemy AI–I hate to say it, but Locust AI is pretty straight forward on any difficulty setting.  They get behind cover, the pop up at set intervals, and then they pop up some where else.  If you flank them, they move to the next cover.  Sometimes there are scripted events, but for the most part, the pattern plays out over and over.  This is a good thing for Rach.  It means that she can stay in cover and work on coordinating the many motions and button presses that are required to keep your reticule trained on an enemy long enough to take them down.

That’s why an on rails experience like the second chapter that I described above is detrimental to Rachel’s learning curve. The game is controlling what gets thrown at us and at what speed.  In a normal level, we can progress as slowly and methodically as we like.

We did better once we hit the ground again, until we got to the first section in which we were asked to split up.  This of course illicited panic out of Rachel, with her moving to the rooftops while I went indoors.  With some careful and meticulous planning, we were able to navigate our separate sections–Rachel even managed to mortar open a rooftop for me, and then we faced our first boss fight.  Admittedly, Rach spent most of the time running in circles on her roof during this fight, but I was able to take it down and then we decided that was good enough for one night.



4 Responses to “Teaching My Wife Gears 2–Round 2!”

  1. o my friend the game is just getting started!

  2. I really did run around in circles in that fight. Our Saturday morning session went much better because I wasn’t thinking about 50 million other things I had to be doing.

    I’m still waiting for the game to become more fun/relaxing then stressful/panic inducing. We’ll see 😉

  3. Make sure you progress through the game slowly, Rachel. If y’all finish the game before those Twilight books come in, Brian might change his mind! haha

    Predictable AI is both good and bad. It means less replayability and fewer unique experiences. But prediction is necessary for strategy. If you had no idea what was coming, you wouldn’t be able to plan and coordinate.

  4. But how’s your reading of Twilight going?

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