Review by googleyahoo123

"Its Bigger, Better....but not QUITE so Badass."

Introduction

Gears of War 2 is a highly anticipated third-person shooter, sequel to one of the Xbox 360's best sellers: Gears of War. Epic Games is back once again to amaze, and this time they top their previous Gears of War accomplishments 10 fold. Gamers will be pleased to find most of the flaws of the first game are gone. Among this however, is a few un-kept promises by the producers, as well as new issues that unfold.

Story + Campaign

Gears of War 2 picks up just a few months after the events of Gears of War 1. With the lightmass bomb detonated, Delta Squad has dealt a large blow to the Locust forces, as well as completely eliminating the Kryll. This time, you have a new assignment: Strike the Locusts in their own home turf. To do this, the Gears use drills called "grind lifts" to project teams of 2 into the underground. And so, you resume the role of the tough as nails soldier, Marcus Fenix. This time however, the story gets more personal, as your partner, Dominic Santiago has a lead on his missing wife and vows to search for her. Epic Games has boasted on and on about how the story is more in-depth and personal, however it isn't the latter. Sure, you do search for a specific loved one as Dom, but really the story is primarily still about killing killing killing, gamers will see this as they progress through the game, where Dom's search is mentioned only once in a while. However, this isn't to say that it is a bad thing for some gamers, as the kill kill kill theme has worked before.

The campaign is beyond excellent, as everything is much grander in scale than the first game. The Reavers, Brumaks, Corpsers and a few new faces, previously only shown off in cutscenes in the first game, are all now fully fight-able, and they throw a lot at you. The level variety is also extremely vast.

Gameplay

The Meat of Gears of War 2. Truly, the gameplay is phenomenal in almost every aspect. The control scheme is well spread out, A being your motion commands, B serves as melee, X is the interact button (revive, pick up ammo), and Y remains as the point of interest trigger. LB is used to track teammates, RB is reload, the control pad changes your weapons, and LT aims while RT obviously fires your weapon. Returning from Gears 1 is the active reload feature, in which players manually reload their weapon, but if hit the correct time, you get a slight damage boost. In the previous Gears, the sniper rifle was abused by active reloading, and thus giving it such a power boost it downs an opponent in one shot. Epic has acknowledged this, and thus removed it. The shotgun is also nerfed, making it less effective, and the added "stopping power" (players slow down as they are shot) removes constant shotgun battles that plagued the first game.

Graphics

I'll keep this simple: It's Really. Really. Good. Possibly the best graphics on the Xbox 360 yet, rivaling Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty 4, and Fall Out 3. In comparison to Halo 3's graphics, it is leagues above it. The blood and gore we all know and love are still here of course. Note: There is an option to turn off the blood and gore.

Sound

From every reload, to headshot, to explosion, the sound is so realistic, that it does actually sound like a war. During firefights in campaign, appropriate background music will play to accommodate the situation. Voice acting matches each character very well and reflects upon their characteristics. Note: There is an option to turn off the foul language.

Multiplayer

This is where things go a little bit downhill and bumpy.

Let's start with the good: Gears of War 2 now supports a matchmaking system and party system as well. You can now easily play with your buddies on Live. Online also uses the Truskill system. Host advantage is nearly non-existent now too. All of your favorite gametypes from Gears of War 1 return, with a few new ones such as Submission(A CTF gametype where the Flag is alive and fights back) and Wingman( a 2v2v2v2 style execution gametype). Most of the weapons are more balanced now, so you can expect a wide variety of weapons being used and so, much more general fun.

Now the neutral: Players now do NOT have the option of selecting a specific game type or map. Epic Games has implemented a voting system much like Halo 3. Whether this is preferred or not, varies on the player.

Now, the bad: The most blunt fault of online, is not IN-GAME, but before. For the average connection, it takes about 10-20 minutes to find 4 other players to begin a game. You will find yourself reading the "SEARCHING..." text for quite a while when beginning a search. What's more absurd, is that this happens every match. It's ridiculous, its inexcusable. This sort of thing should not happen, and the "oh the game just released" doesn't excuse it because it is now 11 days after release and it still exists. Another flaw, is that Epic tried to resolve the "players quitting" issue, but made it worse. Instead of including a penalty, they simply removed the ability to leave a match. This is obsolete because 1) Players quit anyway, simply signing out of your gamertag or going back to the dashboard boots them out of the game. and 2) For people quitting for appropriate reasons, such as having to go out of the room for a while, so they do not hinder their team, cannot do so without signing out/in or going back to the dashboard. Finally, although mostly eliminated, Host Advantage and Lag still exist.

Horde Mode

Let's wash down the bad news with one of the best aspects of the game shall we?

Horde gets its own separate category because it is simply amazing. Horde mode is a 5-player co-operative mode where you take on wave after wave of increasingly difficult Locust. There are a total of 50 waves, and every wave brings more Locust variety and numbers. At every 10th wave, the numbers and variety reset back to those of wave 1, but the Locust get a damage, health, and accuracy boost. This cycle repeats for 50 waves. Horde mode itself feels like a whole new game because of the teamwork and defensive actions required to pass. If you play Horde as you play warzone or execution, you will not make it far.

Gamers who have skipped or plan on skipping games such as Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, and other "tower defense" or team-work oriented games will find Horde mode a nice beverage to quench their thirst for those types of games. In essence, Horde mode overshadows most of the flaws of multiplayer.

Conclusion

Gears of War 2 is an excellent game overall, and truly one of the best third-person shooters to this date. Players who've played FPSs can take a break from the run-and-gun and indulge themselves in a tactical, more team oriented shooter. As for fans of other genre, well, this may not have much appeal to them, but it certainly has enough variety that they should give a try.

This game is MUST buy for Xbox 360 owners, especially shooter fans. It is a highly recommended rent for players straying into the shooter category, and absolutely deserves a fair-shake in judgment from other players.

Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 10/10
Multiplayer(with Horde): ~9-10/10

Gears of War 2 by Epic Games for the Xbox 360 gets a 9, out of 10.


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

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


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