Posts Tagged ‘ Gears of War

Back! Back, Foul Demon!

Last weekend, I had a burning desire to shoot some things. I mean, I wanted some aggressively stupid, smugly violent, thoroughly unredeemed murder to be happening on my television. So I journeyed forth from my apartment to the local GameStop, where I purchased Gears of War. I have always been curious about that series, but my lack of a 360 was always an insurmountable obstacle. There was a PC version, yes, but somehow I sensed something wrong with that concept. Gears was undeniably designed for the 360. To play it with a mouse and keyboard would be to miss the point.

Let me say right now that Gears actually surpasses any desire I might ever feel for the aggressively stupid and smugly violent. I know it’s an early-generation game, but its ugliness still boggles the mind. It’s world seems to have been conceived by some unholy combination of Albert Speer and Eli Roth, and the shooting actually seems to drag quite a bit. Far too many encounters degenerate to me sitting frozen in place, popping shots at enemies who are also frozen in place, trying to do the same to me.

That’s neither here nor there, though. Buying Gears of War at a GameStop in 2010 is an odd experience. The clerk looked positively stunned, and he cocked his head at me and asked, “Did you just get a 360 or something?”

“Yeah, finally got around to it. Trying to get caught up.”

Then the GameStop ritual began, the endless string of up-sells that makes each simple purchase a 5 minute transaction, while the line stretches out into the mall floor and parents finally give up and drag their children out of the closet-sized store.

I have often wondered, as I listen to clerk give the hard-sell to customers, how profoundly off-putting it is to have someone insist, wheedle, and cajole until you finally relent and subscribe to Game Informer. Sometimes they let you go in peace, but other times it’s like the clerks are on a mission to pack you off with a disc-warranty, a new predorder, a membership card, and a magazine subscription.

“C’mon, man, Game Informer will help you stay up to date so you know what’s coming out and what you need to get. C’mon, we both know you buy enough games to make this worth it.”

This time, however, I think I discovered the cross and holy water that stops the conscientious GameStop clerk in his tracks. As he started in on his pitch, I said, “Honestly, I don’t think any of that stuff would do me any good. I’m a PC gamer. I buy almost everything through Steam.”

“Oh,” the clerk said. “Steam, huh?” He admitted defeat and rang up my $7 purchase.