A 5 Game Crash Course for Girlfriends
Aside from being an amazing person for putting up with you and how much weight you’ve put on since you guys got together, your wonderful girlfriend just doesn’t share your desire to sit in front of an HDTV screen for eight hours straight. Here’s a list that won’t change that, but it’s a start to getting her gaming with you for at least part of an hour. Because you really shouldn’t be sitting in front of that screen for as long as you do, fatty.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (Xbox 360, 400 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live Arcade )
This is a good starter game for introducing the dual analog sticks your significant other will have to negotiate her brain around. Left stick controls the avatar’s movement, right stick controls the direction the blasters shoot (pew pew pew). The game itself is still deceptively beautiful and really needs to be enjoyed on a high definition display so you and your gal can marvel at the brilliant neon colors and the subtle ripple effect that occurs when firing your weapons. The beats are sick and the little competition you two will get out of such a simple little game will have you coming back time and again. You really should already own this thing anyway. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is rated E for Everyone.
Limbo (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, 1200 Microsoft Points on XBLA and 14.99 USD on PSN Store)
If your broad thinks games are just exercises in male fantasy where brawny guys with guns save porn stars and kill other brawny guys over and over, Limbo will at least prove it’s not all Michael Bay machismo out there. Limbo is a striking piece of video game with its moody monochrome styling and muted atmosphere. It’s a puzzle-platformer so the skills gained here will help with one of the other puzzle games on this list. Limbo’s a 2D sidescroller so it’s the kiddy pool to the deep waters of the three-dimensional spaces she’ll be plunging into in the other games later on. Don’t forget to turn the speakers up on this one and maybe keep a light or two on, because this game gets creepy-scary in a good way. Limbo is a single player endeavor so Progressive Man suggests that you take the lead and switch off every few puzzles until she’s ready to stop sharing. Limbo is rated T for Teen.
Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3, 19.99 on Amazon for the Director’s Cut)
Like Limbo, Heavy Rain will help dispel the perception that all video games are Call of Duty-esque shooting galleries. If Call of Duty is a Michael Bay movie, Heavy Rain is a David Fincher film. Unlike film, the dark noir type story of Heavy Rain is affected by your choices and performance in the game. Heavy Rain promotes exploration, puzzle solving, and quick reflexes as the game throws quick-time event after quick-time event at you. A lot of the gameplay is fixed camera so we’re still in training wheels territory with exploring 3D space. Both you and your girlfriend should be playing detective and trying to figure out who the Origami Killer is. And remember; only one of you can do the David Caruso style one-liner. Heavy Rain is Rated M for Mature and features nudity. Yeah, digital naughty bits. But it’s tasteful. Mostly.
Portal 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC/Mac OSX, 29.99 USD on Amazon, 19.99 USD on Steam*)
The story and writing are great, the gameplay and puzzle solving are finely tuned and unique, and this is the game where your girlfriend’s hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness abilities are going to be put to the test. Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle platformer. Instead of shooting a gun to kill other players, the user shoots a “portal gun” to make portals in order to solve and overcome increasingly harder puzzles and obstacles. The game even has a co-op mode that can be played splitscreen. A warning though, if you’ve already played the game or figured the puzzle out before your chica, watching her try to figure it out can be agonizing, so get ready to exercise some restraint and show the girl some patience and let her figure it out at her own pace. *New PS3 copies contain voucher codes to free Steam versions. PS3 users can also play co-op with Steam users. Portal 2 is rated E 10+ for Everyone 10 and older.
Halo 4 (Xbox 360, 59.99 USD on Amazon)
So now your girl has got a few games under her belt and she’s not the helpless player constantly pointing the gun at the ceiling and twirling in circles. But she’s not quite ready to go solo in a hardcore adventure. That’s where Halo 4’s co-op campaign comes in. Take point early on and show her the ropes as she covers your six (and probably kills you a few times while she gets used to the frenetic action). Then ease back there, cowboy, and let her decide how you guys are going to get around the next few baddies. Or help her out by playing decoy to the big alien bastard in the room so she can get around and assassinate its ass. Let yourselves get pinned down so you can fight your way out, guns blazing, together. And then high five her when you guys do and tell her she’s a badass, because she is and you’re one lucky sonofabitch. Good thing to note is that all the Halo shooter games have co-op campaigns, so if you don’t have Halo 4 (and why don’t you?), any Halo except Halo Wars will be good to go for some Mr. and Mrs. Smith reenactments. Halo 4 is rated M for Mature.
This selection of games will hopefully get your girl experienced enough to try out more hardcore fare like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Mass Effect, etc. It’s important to note that as you guide your lovely lady’s hand, you do so with a lot of patience and understanding. And be ready to make a deal with her to get her to plop down on the couch with you. Hey, learning salsa ain’t all that bad, right? Remember to shake those hips.
By Jeff Le