Review by Bloatedcow7014
"Have I played this before?"
The first Gears of War was an amazing game; I know because my friend and I beat it in a day, about 8 hours straight. It brought so many new qualities to the shooting franchise; I was stunned by the awareness of the AI and the graphics. New and innovative weapons, tactics, and enemies were all presented in such a way that makes the game unbelievably good. However, these aspects were not improved upon at all in Gears 2. Only a few new, but generic and typical, weapons were introduced: such as the flamethrower, burst pistol, and a mortar.
Set 6 months after the first Gears, Marcus and Dom set out to destroy these Grubs once and for all. Marcus returns with his badass attitude and raspy voice to command the COGs once again. Dom, whose wife was captured earlier, seeks to find his wife and exact revenge on the Grubs. They meet up with old friends and then proceed to continue their campaign.
One of the things that captivated me were the graphics. The cutscenes were beautiful and well rendered. Since Gears 1, the graphics were improved tenfold. Increased lighting led to more realistic shadows and characters, as well as more refined appearances of them. Also was its ability to render hordes of actors within the engine. The Unreal 3 engine used is clearly a cut above the rest, each expression and detail of the character was accentuated and almost looked real.
Though I'm about to contradict myself, I really enjoyed the gameplay as well. Gears 1 brought a new way to play a shooter game that I had never seen or experienced before; and it brought it with force. The acute details of approaching the firefight really make this game. The Gears franchise invented something new and instead of trying to change it for the better, they kept it the same because, simply, it worked. Why try to change something that isn't broken?
Fun-factor is an essential part of any game, and this game delivers in spades. About 11 hours of non-stop fun contribute to the Singleplayer Campaign. Nearly every second of the game, my button was on the trigger killing some baddies. Mindless killing is what it is.
Aside from Singleplayer and co-op, this game's multiplayer is very enjoyable. I experienced no lag or delays during any of my games. Plus, it's always fun to team up with people from around the globe to kick some alien ass right? The new modes like 'Guardian' and 'Wingman' really make the online experience a more enjoyable one than from the first. But by far the best is Horde, which I alluded to earlier. Teaming up with 5 guys to kill wave after wave of bad guy blood.
This game brought same bad luggage with it as well. One of the many things that irked me was the [lack of] difficulty. My friend and I both put it on the 'Hardcore' difficulty, because the hardest difficulty was blacked out because we had to beat the game. Anyway, the entire game was too easy; enemies that could have torn me apart had decided to just smack me with their fists so I could kill them with the shotgun. If it wasn't for our recklessness and carelessness, we could have died less than 10 times the entire game combined; it was that easy. And on a sidenote, the last boss literally took 10 seconds to kill, it didn't even hit us once.
One of the most annoying things in a game is when the characters explain the plot to each other, instead of the actions playing out the plot. As with Gears 1, the game makes almost no attempt to explain what caused the war or how the Locusts got there. That system only works if the game is from the 1990's because some of the consoles did not have the space, or if the game is called Contra III. From playing both Gears, I can safely deduce this: Aliens landed on Earth and the first attempt at killing them was futile, and now we are fighting them again.
Normally I wouldn't care, but the voice acting was just atrocious. Clearly the voice actors were just reading from their cards on the first day. Not only that, but the dialogue was redundant. It was as bad as visiting a movie set when the guy is first going over his lines. At least a half a second past between each word spoken, and it was spoken in a dumbfounded tone. And to add gasoline to the fire, each character had to throw in their 0.02$ whenever possible. Cole was the stereotypical black man, while Marcus was all "eyes on the prize" man, and Dom just had to make pun after pun.
The one thing I could not stand was the unbearable, striking resemblance to the plot of all the Halos. Chapter after chapter, scene after scene, bad pun after bad pun, I was reminded of Halo. This borrowed so much from the Halo series that it's disgusting. Everything about this game screams Halo. It's a copout, the developers took the easy way out: take an existing plot and then tweak it and call it new. Allow me to explain:
Marcus and Dom are the Master Chiefs. Anya is Cortana, Jack is 343 Guilty Spark, the Locust and Lambent is the Flood and Covenant. The queen of the Locust is the High Prophet of Truth. The plot is to destroy the aliens before they enslave and kill of humanity. Even many of the puns of the chapters are similar. Halo (at least Halo 1) sometimes used puns before the beginning cutscene of the chapter, and sure enough Gears 2 follow the exact same footsteps.
I may have missed some, but in no way am I exaggerating any of this. When you play the game and realize that the Halo plot was put in and names were changed, I'll be the one saying I told you so.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you're looking for Gears 1, you'll be in luck. Almost nothing is changed from the first installment, but that is a great thing. The first Gears did well in presenting a new type of shooter, and this one almost the genetic twin. The graphics are stunning and the same strategy is still there. If you're looking for a fun shooter to play with a friend, or even by yourself, this game should be up there with Goldeneye. It's always fun to kill zombies in various ways; the best is the curbstomp.
But if you're getting into the nitty-gritty, you may want to think twice about buying this game. If you're looking for a real challenge, then you'll be disappointed in this game. Voice acting a great tool, but only when used correctly and effectively. And plots shouldn't be explained between each character, they already know what's going on. And if you don't want to play a plot that's already been used, then Gears 2 is not your game.
If you buy this game expecting the creme de la creme, a top notch game that is 2 steps above the rest, then you're in for a rude awakening. This is a classic example that newer games aren't better just because they are new.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/10/08
Game Release: Gears of War 2 (US, 11/07/08)
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