Gears of War 2: Review
An “Epic” Sequel
Gears of War 2 is almost everything you would expect when you want to play a gory shooter filled with chainsaws and blood splattering against the screen, or is it? This time around there’s a lot more to Marcus and Dom than simply ripping the locust to shreds with chainsaws and ducking behind cover in a cloud of bullets. In this sequel, Epic gives you everything you experienced from the first game and more. On top of the aggressive shooter style gameplay that Epic dishes out so well, we also see a cinematic style of game that really highlights what Gears of War 2 is all about.
As the game starts you watch a cut-scene with a woman in the background saying something about the end of the earth or whatever, and C.O.G. soldiers are fighting off a wave a Locust once again. As the gameplay begins you are charged with training a new rookie named Carmine. This is basically a training session for those who are either rusty on the game or who have never played Gears of War, and before you know it you are right back into the same action as in the previous game. You learn quickly that the Locust army is stronger than ever and they have a new secret weapon to sink cities, and the last beacon of hope, Jacinto, is next in line. The C.O.G. (Coalition of Ordered Governments) is making its last stand against the Locust, and they are taking the fight to their doorstep and invading their stronghold. It of course is up to you to save humanity.
It all sounds like a typical story, but Epic has done a much better this time around at making the story a little more engrossing and persuasive. While this background story is going on, the game is highlighted by Dom’s search for his wife who has gone missing. Throughout the game you really feel for Dom, and as the story progresses you get a deeper understanding of just how much he is hurting. Without giving away too much of the story, I will just have to say that it’s nice to find a game that really knows how to make you truly hate “bad-guys”.
Like I said before, this game is pretty much the same style as Gears of War, but it does bring in a few welcomed changes. They have added a few extra characters which mix it up and provide some interesting dialogue, though I feel that they are not truly needed in the game and were simply added to give you more characters to choose from in Multiplayer. New weapons have also been added and make the game experience much more pleasant, you can expect to wield a Flamethrower, and even a Mortar to name just a couple. A lot of the weapons have even been upgraded or changed in order to make up a larger variety of weapon types, and you can bet that you will never feel like you are lacking a good arsenal. There are now finishing moves that you can perform when an enemy has been taken down and is crawling on the ground. With eleven different finishing moves, you can do anything from beat your enemy in the face, use your shotgun to hit their head like a golf ball, or pick them up off the ground and use them as a “meatshield”. That’s right, this time around you can have some cover when walking around out there in the middle of a gun fight. The new system allows you to pick an enemy up using the A button and hold them in front of your body to use as a shield to protect you from gunfire. On top of using an enemy as a shield, one of the new weapons in this game is a large metal shield that you can hunker down behind as you crawl towards the enemy, unfortunately you will only be able to use your pistol though.
The engine also runs a lot smoother this time around with only a few minor problems. You will now experience larger areas with a higher volume of enemies. This is even shown off in one of the later levels where you will be facing off against well over forty enemies at a time while riding a Brumak. The controls also run cleaner and you have a much easier time sticking to the walls that you actually meant to take cover behind, as opposed to the previous game where you would end up taking cover behind a wall that exposed you to the enemy instead. The engine has been tweaked allowing for some better textures and better load times, but there are still problems with watching the textures load when a level starts. While this is doesn’t take away from the gameplay, it still would be nice to see this fixed in a future game.
Gears of War 2 offers up a pretty good multiplayer experience, and it’s easy to spend hours sitting back playing with your friends or matching up online. There are a wide variety of game variants to play through such as Warzone, Execution (where you must execute the enemy to kill them), and Wingman (where you partner up in twos) just to name a few. The multiplayer is good but it doesn’t stand alone like Halo 3 multiplayer. In fact, if you’re going to buy the game, make sure that you are going to enjoy playing the campaign and don’t expect an amazing online multiplayer experience. With that said, multiplayer isn’t completely lacking in this game, in fact, it does have one of the best, if not the best, multiplayer modes in gaming history. That’s right everyone, I’m talking about Horde, a game where you fight off up to 50 waves of progressively harder Locust enemies on a multiplayer map. If you choose to play online you will be matched up with four other people and placed on a multiplayer map and the waves will come at you one by one. As the wave numbers go higher so do the difficulty of the enemies. After ten waves, the cycle starts over and the enemies get a boost of strength, defense, and accuracy. If you play locally on your own Xbox then you have the choice to play Horde by yourself or with up to four other people. Horde is ridiculously hard and that is the exact reason why people get so addicted to it. It also gives the game a great sense of teamwork because it allows you to work together against a brilliant AI. In so many ways, I would have to say that I would have probably bought Gears of War 2 for Horde only, but let’s not take away from how well the campaign was designed.
This game is great, and is worth every penny, even when it was full price. The campaign is very fine tuned as opposed to the first game, and the multiplayer is very good overall, and Horde takes the cake. There are a couple of things that could use some work, such as dialogue and texture loading, but so much of the game is great that you are never really bothered by those insignificant issues. The design is great and Epic is, well, “Epic” at what they do. Go out and buy this game very soon, because the Horde won’t wait around forever.