I suppose with the world gripped by Gears frenzy I should probably explain why I’m not a fan of the series.
I have nothing in particular against shooters. I have nothing in particular against space marines, either — I have a copy of Space Crusade sitting proudly on my shelf as proof. But something about the first Gears of War really rubbed me up the wrong way after the “my GOD these graphics are nice even on a standard-def TV” shock wore off. I played it for a while and got a reasonable way into it before realising that I wasn’t really having any fun. The series’ oppressive brownness was getting to me, and what few attempts at humour there were in there just came off as silly action-movie posturing — I guess that’s kind of the point, but still.
Consequently, Gears of War 2 and now Gears of War 3 hold little to no interest to me. The first game didn’t make me want to get to know these characters any more, so why should I spend any more time in their universe? It wasn’t just due to the risible dialogue, of course — the infuriating bullet-sponge nature of most of the regular enemies in the game put me off somewhat, too, along with numerous sequences in which snipers could insta-kill you if you didn’t work out where the best cover spot was. Constant repetition of a short sequence in shooters is something of a bugbear for me, and Gears hit me right in the fury spot with one particular section.
Alongside all that, I’m not a huge fan of competitive multiplayer games (largely because I’m typcially crap at them) and it all adds up to a package that I’m not interested in in the slightest. I don’t begrudge people their excitement for the new game, but it seems that the days in which every triple-A title was an essential purchase for everyone are long gone — at least so far as I’m concerned, anyway.
I’m not sure exactly when this happened. I know it was definitely this generation, as I vividly recall throughout the PS1 and PS2 eras picking up the “essential purchase” titles almost as soon as they were released. Perhaps now there are simply too many high-profile, high-quality games being released to make this practical, perhaps I’m no longer interested in the “blockbuster” genre, or perhaps I’m increasingly disillusioned with ever-more underhanded tactics to get players to part with even more of their money beyond purchasing the game itself.
Whatever the reasons, as I say, I certainly don’t begrudge the Gears fans their upcoming fun-fest, but I’m more than happy with what I’m playing right now: Xenoblade Chronicles(awesome), Minecraft 1.8 (buggy but awesome), TrackMania 2 Canyon (aweso– you get the idea) and Wing Commander III (surprisingly still great). The fact that I’d rather play a Wii game, an indie game, a niche racing game and a space sim from 1994 is perhaps a sad indictment on the mainstream gaming industry, however.
Ah well. Horses for courses and other such clichés. If you’re playing Gears this weekend, have a blast. I will not be joining you!