And then, you lose. Brutal computer players bash you relentlessly with uninterruptible combo attacks, leaving you helplessly flailing in the air. Once the computer gets its first bitch-slap in, you can usually put the controller down and go get a sandwich, because the only thing you can do now is wait for the ambulance to arrive. The lowest Story mode skill setting is Normal; it only goes up from there.
To do well (let alone survive online in Xbox Live matches), you must learn how to counterattack. It's easy enough in theory but quite difficult for a casual player to pull off on purpose. Reading and responding to your enemy's moves roughly before they happen will come with practice; until you get the timing down, prepare to be abused. Of course, you can simply pair up with a clueless friend or three (try the four-player tag-team matches) and just mash buttons, and you'll have the time of your ignorant lives.
Of course, if your mashing becomes skilled enough to march through Story mode and beat the computer characters at their own petty, frustrating game, you'll be rewarded with sexy unlockable costumes and secret characters like Halo universe guest star Spartan-458. Who, by the way, looks like Master Chief on the outside, but is all woman on the inside. The more you unlock, the more enjoyable the other game modes: Time Attack, Survival, Team Battle, practice, and Watch Mode (because you know you like to). This is in part because of the fresh goodies and in part because you actually start to feel like you know what you're doing. Suddenly those cinematic smashes through stained-glass windows and bone-crunching tumbles down marble staircases mean something.