Review by ScifiNutter
"Not too bad, but it could have been better"
Nearly everyone playing GoW2 has at least played GoW itself - for this reason, I may speak in terms that assume the reader has done as such and I recommend to anyone who cannot understand to look at the FAQs of both games.
Now, let's get down to both the good news and bad.
Gameplay is essentially the same as the original game. Cover, aim, fire... they didn't even do the time-honored idiot's tradition of completely changing the controls, and that's not exactly a bad thing. You don't wind up pulling your nose hairs out of your ears in frustration trying to adjust to something dreamed up in some gamer's nightmare. The new environments are sort of nice, either being a hole in the middle of the Earth or a ruined city... say, that seems a bit familiar, doesn't it?
The new weapons are nice but the "new" enemies really don't seem to add much. Now you've got the "Grinder" who's basically a Boomer with a fez on carrying around RAAM's gun, some other Boomer using a flamethrower... and a Drone with a flamethrower. Whoopie. The Castor (at least, that's what a friend told me it was - the guy who screams and sends everyone and his brother coming to his rescue) is sort of different, and different is nice so I ain't going to wallop on his cheap close-range stun. Chainsaw battling is somewhat challenging and makes things a bit more interesting, if unrealistic, and the "meatshield" mechanic is very well done in my book.
Anyways, the graphics are just about the same, the soundtrack really hasn't made any major changes, and the story's just about the same as always: something an eighth grader wrote in the middle of the night. Admit it - there are a billion different ways that it could expand and become something worthy of entire novels. Their "additions" to it really don't add all that much - the attempt to pull on our heartstrings through Dom's search for his missing wife fall strait on their faces because there really isn't any characterization of any of the characters! The most you find in that department is a bunch of massive guys who have testosterone leaking out of every pore and eat entire Brumaks for breakfast with a bit of cliche sprinkled on top for a bit of "classic" flavor. Some people call it shocking, but shocking isn't necessarily good. I was shocked when a thousand volts at half an amp ran through my body, and that wasn't a good thing. Please excuse my wretched humor.
And, if you want to disprove the whole story bit, good luck - those of us playing it (excepting ME and a few others) don't give a flying rat about the story. It's simple: war against humans, people die, war against non-human humanoids, and it's humanity's last stand all bloody well over again.
I can't really talk a lot about the multiplayer, considering I've only started playing it, but a lot of the new things seem to be pretty interesting. New maps with time-sensitive recurring events, weapon cycling, and new versions of the old maps are welcome additions.
Now it's time for the bad.
There are a few annoying glitches that I've got to point out first. Remember the box glitch used to make RAAM unable to move? It works on you now, not the bad guys, and it crops up at the worst moments imaginable. It's especially bad during the extremely buggy fish boss fight. I'll tell you a story quickly: a friend of mine and I were fighting the fish boss. Because of this &*$#ing glitch, it took us FIFTEEN tries just to keep ourselves from being crushed by massive tentacles and massive teeth. The end. Also, enemies can sometimes walk strait through walls and kick your pasty rump into next week. Tickers are the prime example - another story: Same friend, we're in the Hollow with the broken grindlift, and clusters of Drones and Tickers start pouring out of the holes. Five minutes later: they've all stopped coming, but the bloody thing won't give us the sound that we've finished. We start wandering around, thinking there's some stupid sod who's crawling around on the ground, bleeding out. Well, jolly ol' me walks up to one of the walls when I hear one of those Ticker sounds just before the bloody thing pops out of strait rock, flaming as if nothing was wrong, only to find Carmine shooting it in the mug while I'm standing by the little bugger.
Oh, and the AI is so STOOPID it might as well be called a glitch! Then again, it never was a Nobel Prize winner, but that's beside the point.
From what I've heard and experienced myself, the multiplayer is still unbalanced and glitchy - the shotgun is still overpowered and the lancer, in response to complaints, is now also overpowered. Actually, it's the chainsaw on the lancer - in GoW, you could make someone using the 'saw flinch fairly easily. Now whenever you try, you just get cut in half because you're using something weaker than the bloody boomshot. Groups of people just run around sawing each other and shotty-rushing. The "new and improved" game room system is all a bunch of flying poo over most threads you'd encounter, not that I can disagree with them, and the people you find playing it are just about the same as every online game: a bunch of poo-flinging nut jobs with no social skills that don't include swearing profusely surrounding a few precious gems that are people who you actually want to play with.
I'll sum it up in a couple of sentences: Gears of War 2 is fun, it holds true to what made the original good, but it honestly should be better. It feels somewhat unrefined. It's good, but the point to having a sequel to anything is that the sequel is supposed to completely blow you away when compared to the original, not copy it down to just re-skinning an existing enemy and giving them a different gun!
Worth the $59.99? As a standalone game, yes. As a sequel, no.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/11/08
Game Release: Gears of War 2 (US, 11/07/08)
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