Review by TheRedneck14

""Bigger, Better, and more bad***""

Gears of War 2 was hyped up by CliffyB to be bigger, better, and more badass than the first game, and even though that was a bold thing to say at the time, he was right. Almost everything in Gears of War 2 was improved, and the people at Epic Games did an incredible job on the game that will probably take home most of the GotY awards this year. So, lets light this candle.

Story: 7

Those of you who read my review for the first Gears of War will know that I had to go on Wikipedia to find out some of the things that happened in the story because it was so poorly told that I had no idea what was going on sometimes. Luckily, this game doesn't have that problem.

Gears 2 takes place 6 months after the Lightmass Bomb was used to obliterate most of the Locust. The few remaining Humans on Serra are now suffering from a disease known as Rust Lung because of how most of the Imulsion [Serras fuel] was evaporated by the Bomb. The Locust have come back and they are now sinking entire cities, and the formerly impenetrable stronghold on Jacinto will sink if the Locust are able to keep doing what they are doing.

So, the game starts off with you playing as Marcus Fenix from the first game, along with Dom and the rest of Delta Squad [and a couple of other people in the COG army]. And the game is mainly about getting into the locust Stronghold and trying to stop them from sinking Jacinto, and that story is told pretty well.

There are also some more "emotional" plotlines in this game to make everything deeper and darker, and they work well, even though this is a game where you have a Chainsaw Bayonet. The main secondary plot is about Doms wife Maria, and some things that happened during that were really disturbing, you also get to see more of how the society of the Locust is, and how emotionally damaged some of the soldiers have become from this War.

But overall, the entire story just seems like it is bigger, and there is more going on. The first one just seemed like a little mission, but this one makes you feel like you are in a massive War. The only real problems are that the ending happened too fast and it was very disappointing, and there are some more questions the story makes you ask, like what are the SIres and what happened to Adam Fenix...

But, we are just gonna have to wait for Gears 3 to find out.

Gameplay: 8

Like I said before, everything in Gears 2 just seems like it was refined and improved. When you play through the main game, it still plays like the first game, but there are so many little improvements that make the game more enjoyable to play.

You are still playing through chapters, the game is still a 3rd person shooter, you still need to use cover effectively to play the game, and you still get to use a freaking Chainsaw.

Most of the time, you will be going through a linear path and you will have to pop into cover and shoot at the locust, but there are also some levels that do different things. One of them has you inside of a Giant Worm [it is also the most disgusting level in my opinion] and you have to run through its Digestive teeth, you have to outrun some of what it is digesting, and you have to tear the arteries of its three hearts open... you didn't see anything like that in the first game.

The biggest improvements to me were in the AI and the Cover system. Your squadmates are now much smarter, and you are not letting them get killed and doing everything on your own anymore. They are finally able to hold their own in a fight, and luckily they are also able to revive you if you get knocked down. The Cover system also seems more natural now, and it is easier to move in and out of cover.

You also get a few new things that are fun to use, like planting Grenades on a wall and using them as mines, a Flamethrower, a Chain Gun, and 11 different execution moves that you can use on a Crawling locust.

The only real disappointments to me were the last chapter and the Vehicle levels. Although the level where you got to ride a Brumak was fun, the tank level had awful controls, although the level where you flew the Reaver was alright, you just couldn't move the damn thing around very well. And the last chapter just felt like it went by too fast.

But overall, the game is more fun to play than the first one, and that is what counts.

Challenge: 7

Gears of War 2 seems like it is easier than the first one to me. Maybe because I have played through the first one already, so I knew what I was doing more than I did back then, or maybe Epic made things easier. But all I know is that I beat Gears 2 faster than I did with Gears 1. Even the final Boss was wimpified, it only took me 2 ******* minutes to beat it [even on the highest Difficulty level], but in the first game General RAAM took me 30 or 45 minutes to beat...

Although, you still need to be patient for some of these levels. You can't play Gears of War like most other shooters, you need to stay in cover a lot and you should take your time with killing the enemies so they don't overwhelm you.

Controls: 8

As I have said, everything just feels better in this game.

You just need to know how to stay in cover and shoot accurately and after you get the hang of the controls that is easy to do. And it should not be too hard for you to learn how to use the controls, there are even prompts on the screen when you can do some of the actions like opening doors, picking up weapons, or stomping on someone's head.

The only real problem is that Vehicle Controls still suck. The Tank is a pain in the ass to drive in a straight line.

Graphics: 9

The little improvements to the Unreal III engine have made Gears 2 look so much better than the first one.

The levels look incredible, and there is some amazing architecture in the Human areas where everything looks like it has gone through a real war, and the underground areas where the Locust live really look like creepy alien temples, the inside of the worm looks disgusting [in a good way], and there is an incredible looking Forest level where you just want to look around and see all of the details that went into making this game look so realistic. And there are some incredible looking cut scenes where there are a massive amount of characters on the screen, and everything just looks more epic than it did in the first game.

The character models also look better, the Locust still look ugly as hell, and Delta Squad still looks like the steroid injecting giant badasses that they were in the first game.

The massive amount of gore from the first has also been expanded on. the screen still gets coated with blood, but you can now rip the Locust apart with some guns. You can fire a Chaingun at some of the bigger ones and watch their limbs get ripped off. Even though all of the blood that will wind up being spilt [and in one level, covering your entire body] looks disgusting, there is still some kind of charm in seeing the head of one of these monsters explode when you blast it with a Sniper rifle.

The only problem with the graphics is that the Unreal engine still has a lot of pop up, although they tried to hid it by making the textures fade in instead of just popping up out of nowhere. But that is the only problem with the Graphics, and if that did not happen I would of given this section a 10.

Sound: 10

Luckily the sound stayed at the same high quality it was at in the first game.

The voice acting is good, but it still has the intentionally cheesy feeling that the first game had. That may turn off some people, but you have to remember that this is not a game where you should expect anything too serious. Although the more dramatic parts of the game are done very well, like Chairman Prescott's speech in the beginning of the game. And John DiMaggio [Bender from "Futurama"] still does a great job at playing Marcus Fenix.

The Locust still have those disgusting growling noises for voices [some of them actually sound like the gutturals in most of the songs that new Metal Bands do... interesting comparison to me], and they sound like I would expect some ugly looking monster to sound.

The background noises help you get immersed into the game, and the sound effects like Brumak rockets going past you, the sounds of weapons firing, explosions, and the noise that you hear when someone's head explodes still sound great.

The music was the best part of the sound to me. I love epic sounding choral and orchestra music that sounds like stuff from "Star Wars" or some war movie, and the music in Gears of War 2 really delivers that feel. I liked almost every song I heard in this game, and the battle music made the game seem more exciting during the shootouts.

Overall, the game just sounds great in every possible way.

Multiplayer: 8

The Multiplayer was improved over the first game, but there are still some disappointments to me.

Most of the modes from the first game came back, and they are fun to play, but there are a few new ones like Submission where you have to use the Meat Shield move [picking up someone that is crawling around and using them like a shield] to capture someone and bringing them to some part of the level to capture the flag. Multiplayer in this game is all about working as a team, you have to know how to work with you squad to do well online, because if people are just going out on their own they will get their asses kicked.

I had the most fun on Horde so far. Basically, you are fighting through 50 waves of Locust, and each wave gets harder. So, you have to fight through 50 waves of these things, and you have 4 other people with you.

And this is one of those modes that has to be done as a team, because if you go out there alone you will probably wind up getting killed, and it is really tough trying to fight through half of a wave because the rest of your team decided not to play as one...

The biggest problem with playing online is that it can take a long time to find a match sometimes. I can usually find people in a few seconds on the basic modes, but on ones like Wingman [teams of 2] I just wind up waiting until I give up and try something else.

But, if you can't find people to play with you can still play with the Bots by yourself, although they aren't as much fun as a real human player.

Overall, Multiplayer is more fun to play now, but some people are still going to whine about some of the changes [look in the Forums, people hate how "weak" the Shotgun is now even though it works fine for me]. At least it doesn't seem like something that was put in at the last minute like it was with the first game.

Atmosphere: 9

The enhanced level of depth in the story, along with the beautiful graphics and the incredible sound just help you get more immersed into the story than the first game did. Although some things in the story just make you ask questions, you really feel like you are fighting in this war for humanity's survival, and that is what counts.

Replayability: 8

Multiplayer is fun, you can do the Campaign on Co-Op, there are some easy Achievements, and Horde is a great new mode that is fun to play. There should be enough to keep you busy on this game.

Pros:
Great Campaign, great Graphics and sound, fun Multiplayer, John DiMaggio, some of the bonuses for buying the game new were an entertaining way of screwing with used game stores, epic music, vastly improved storyline.

Cons:
More questions than answers, pathetic final boss, annoying vehicle levels, slow matchmaking on Multiplayer, graphical pop in.

Should you get it:
Gears of War 2 is definitely a game that any Xbox 360 owner should have in their collection.

Overall:

Gears of War 2 is one of the best games I have played on the Xbox 360, and it should be one of the top contenders for Game of the Year 2008. Even though there were some problems that annoyed me, they were mostly minimal things that don't detract from how great this game is.

9


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/17/08

Game Release: Gears of War 2 (Limited Edition) (US, 11/07/08)


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