Review by GodOfWarFanatic
"A sequel that was worth waiting for."
Gears of War 2, surprisingly, was way better than the first game. As you may know, I was not entirely enthusiastic about the first one. All though the basic premise of the second installment is the same; I must say that I loved it. Despite having the story being basic with weak dialogue, the intense action and the longevity of the campaign made it worth putting money out for.
The Locust are back; but now, they are sinking entire cities. So Delta Team go straight into the hallow to find out what the seismic activity is coming from. There is also a sub-story; Dom is looking for is wife throughout the whole ordeal. So really, it's as much as Dom's story as it is about Marcus' story. Overall, it is more interesting than the first installment, but still nothing special.
The original voice-cast is back. So you'll recognize the familiar voices of Marcus, Dom, and Cole-Train, among others. The in-game sound effects are good too. But one thing I was disappointed in was the dialogue. I felt a lot of was un-needed and just put there so you could get through a cut-scene, especially with Cole-Train, all though his witty dialogue can be occasionally humorous. But I still love the sound of a chainsaw ripping through flesh, the sound when a head explodes when you shoot somebody with a sniper rifle, and in general, the sound of bullets puncturing bodies. One really cool, but pointless, sound-effect that I love is the higher-revving sound of the chainsaws. When you hold B to rev up the chainsaw bayonet, you can press the Right Trigger, and it'll sound like you're revving a two-stroke dirt bike in neutral for a couple seconds. I constantly did this when I had the chainsaw bayonet revved after I found out about this.
The graphics, just as the first game are impressive with detail, that is. It still shares the same boring and dull colors from the original game. But the detail is definitely improved in this sequel. Otherwise, they look the same. I also saw guns going through solid objects on multiple occasions and you get stuck behind invisible walls throughout just two little nit-picks. The physics are definitely incredible. I also love the destructible environments, all though I'd wish you could destroy everything that is possible to destroy (or at least most of the stuff). Like some couches you can saw in half; others you can't. Again, Gears of War's graphical detail was incredible, just imagine that with even more detail and a tad more color. Basically, unless you pay attention to the level design a lot (and/or the detail difference), they look the same to me. But then again, there are always more things going on at a time in this round.
One thing I love about the physics, aside from the incredibly realistic water physics, is how you can keep shooting enemies limbs off, even when they're dead. It's just hilarious watching their body parts move everywhere when you run into them. Ah maybe I'm a little sick, but who cares.
This game hosts the same run-and-cover system used in the first, which is utilized so well. All though repetitive, it's more essential in this one, giving it a more intense and realistic feel (usually on the harder difficulties). It also creates more strategic game play. Both partner and enemy A.I. is more realistic. They cover in the necessary situations, they are more aggressive towards you, and they just do whatever needs to be done to survive. Definitely something I, and most people should love and want in video games.
In the first game, you could just run through bullets and get to different cover right near your enemy. You did not worry about the precautions because unless you were on like Insane, you would survive. This really made the original too easy, which was one of the main factors that made me disappointed with it. Well now, this is not a problem. Epic added what is called Stopping Power to the guns. If you continuously keep getting shot with a machine gun, you'll move slower (eventually making you stagger). If you get shot by a shotgun (depending on the range), you'll stagger immediately. Now this make not be attractive to you, but if you understand what realism this adds, you'll appreciate this addition. I sure do.
Another addition is the Meat Shield. When an opponent is knocked down, but not dead, they crawl if they're near death. Instead of curb-stomping them, or doing another move to kill your helpless enemy, you can grab them and use them as a shield. One thing I did not like about this is you automatically switch to your pistol. I mean guys on steroids in armor that probably weighs more than the human wearing it, who can climb over most things they can cover behind (which Marcus referred to as a hard maneuver to do in full gear.), they should be able to hold a shotgun, or a Lancer with one hand.
There are also standard shields (well, not really standard so to speak, but they're metal) carried by huge guys who carry large mace-esque things. When you grab these shields, you can plant them in the ground, or walk with them. The nice thing about them is you are virtually invincible whilst holding them, unless an enemy comes up to you from behind, or from the side.
A third most noticeable addition to the sequel is the chainsaw battles. There's nothing really worth getting excited over. It's just a chainsaw battle. When you and your enemy have Lancer's, if you try to cut them in half, they'll put up their Lancer and see who's the stronger one. In this little-mini game, just rapidly tap B and there ya go. An addition they should make to make the chainsaws more exciting is to let you control where it goes through the body with the right analog stick, but maybe I'm asking too much
There are also new weapons, like the mini-guns, Mortar guns, and Flame-Throwers. Personally, I love the Flame-Thrower. Usually, in games, I hate using them because a lot of the time, I'd just get burned with the person I'm trying to kill. In Gears of War 2, it feels much more smooth and you don't get caught in your own crossfire. The Mini Guns are definitely a worthy feature. So are the Mortar's, but I still don't get the aiming system with them, it was always inaccurate of where I aimed it. But if it hit the targets, it worked beautifully.
The campaign, in general, is much longer. Thank God. In the first Gears of War, you could beat it in less then six hours your first play-through, and less than four your second time around. This time around, it is around a 10-12 hour campaign, depending and skill and the difficulty level, which is great longevity for a shooter. Also, co-op is still here! I love how you can start your own campaign, play for a while, and then start right back where you were with a friend, no matter where you last let off in the story. Another interesting and worthy feature added into Co-Op is you can pick individual difficulties. So say you want to play competitively and you want a challenge, so you want to play on Hardcore or Insane. But your friend over here isn't and wants to just breeze through and wants to play on Normal, or something. Instead of you two having to compromise on which difficulty you guys should play on, you can just pick whichever difficulty you want.
Overall, there were some disappointments in this installment, but it is far superior to the first, which is what I expected. The campaign is a big improvement, and since that is what matters most to me, that along makes me have a positive attitude towards this game. Along with the sheer brutality and carnage you can unleash, plus the feeling of intensity throughout, but that's beside the point. If you're a fan of shooters, specifically third-person shooters in this case, and you'll play the campaign once, and then be done with it, rent it. If you're a multiplayer nut with games, you'll play the campaign multiple times, and loved the first one; this is a worthy addition to your game collection.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/17/08
Game Release: Gears of War 2 (US, 11/07/08)
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