After months of my husband Patrick, teenage son Chris and I saving allowances, Christmas money, spare change and other sundry cash, we saved up enough to purchase an Xbox 360. It was part of a big lesson for Chris in the value of saving money and delaying gratification.
At some point during this process, I agreed to learn to play “Halo.” After all, it was reasoned, if I was helping to save up for the 360, I should learn to play one of the new games on it. Since the guys insisted that “Halo 3″ be the first game for the new system, I would need to learn to play “Halo.”
So, we finally bought the shiny new console, and for Easter, Chris received an additional controller and copy of the long-awaited “Halo 3.”
After Patrick and Chris played out the story for a couple of hours, it was time for my “Halo” lesson to begin. Since we only had two controllers (more are on order), and one belonged to Chris, he was put in charge of my education.
Instead of starting back at the original “Halo,” as I expected and which still looks much cooler on 360, the little punk opted to plunge me into “Halo 3.” Basically, I had no idea what was going on except that my character was Master Chief and that under ordinary circumstances (read: not me playing), I kick major alien tail.
Having watched four seasons of “Red vs. Blue,” I recognized the Warthog and energy sword, but I kept expecting Tucker to show up and say “Bow-chicka-bow-bow.”
Keep in mind that the last first-person shooter I played with any regularity was “Doom” on my PC back in college. With the Xbox, I’ve mostly played fighting games and a few sports contests. (I am a killer “Gladius” warrior.)
Fortunately, Chris was smart enough to not put me immediately into story mode, instead picking the versus mode that allows just the two of us to fight without a bunch of grunts and brutes to muddy the waters. Though those alien scumbags might have been more forgiving than my merciless offspring, who seemed to relish blasting me, sniping me, running me down with the Mongoose and jumping fatally onto my head while I was trying to learn to, say, walk forward, pick up a new weapon or turn into a tunnel.
Tired of his heartless antics and apparent inability to grasp the concept of scaling it back a bit for the rookie, I booted Chris to the bench and let the hub have a shot. Having coached me through gameplay before, he was more understanding and willing to give me a chance to get my wits about me. He at least had the courtesy to wait a moment before gunning me down when I asked for a reminder of what button to hit to swap weapons.
My one advantage at playing the game was my sharp eyes, so I was good at spotting all sorts of new weapons. Both Chris and Patrick would cruelly wait until I found something new, encourage me to try it out, and then kill me so they could snatch it.
After a couple of hours on Saturday, I was able to get the hang of moving and shooting and even got in a sweet kill by blasting Chris at long distance with a missile pod. It’s little moments like blasting your son’s character’s head off that make gaming great family time.
Chris and I also tried out the forge concept this afternoon, creating a level in which we were invincible and had access to every weapon. (We could also custom-color our armor, and considering my level of “Halo” intelligence, I went with Caboose blue armor.) We cruised along pretty happily, my confidence increasing, until Chris discovered that he could kill me with back attacks. The carnage once again ensued.
Maybe one of these days, I’ll learn to cover my back before he puts the gravity hammer through it. Until then, he better watch it if I ever get him roped into a round of “Gladius.” My undead summoner has a death head’s staff and we’re not afraid to use it.