Review by prophet_of_cool

"These COGS have been polished, but there's still some rust here."

Introduction:

Due to the critical acclaim the original had, it's no surprise that Gears of War 2 has been getting a lot of attention in the run up to its release. Gears of War was the first must-have game for many people on their 360 and posed a significant threat to Halo in the race for “best 360 shooter”. Now, in many ways Gears 2 is everything a sequel should be, it's definitely a much bigger game than its predecessor in ways that game was lacking, however there are a few things in Gears 2 that make you wonder why Epic chose to alter them.

Gameplay:

As soon as you play you'll feel right at home here, this game plays even better than the original. The USP for Gears has always been the emphasis on taking cover, Gears 2 stays true to the formula and adds little tweaks here and there that make it as close to perfection as it will probably get. That's not to say that this game is just an upgrade, there's plenty of new stuff here to make you go “wow”. New weapons make an appearance as well as brand new executions and gameplay mechanics; the promoted “chainsaw duel” is definitely the most dramatic of them though; these are a great new edition.

The multiplayer has been significantly changed, Epic always stated that they didn't intend Gears 1 to be played the way it ended being played and Gears 2 makes sure you play a certain way. This creates a lot of problems when playing online, you'll definitely find people that are too stubborn to alter their ways, get killed and just leave the game. This is because of the addition of “stopping power”, this new mechanic lets you slow down players as they move by shooting them, never again will someone be able to roadie run shotgun you after you've put a clip of bullets into their face. The game also comes with a lot more maps than the original did and there is also a flashback map pack available for download that contains 4 maps from Gears 1. There are also several new game modes to sink your chainsaw into, the one that steals the show is definitely horde mode. In this mode you and up to 4 buddies can team up and take on 50 waves of constantly increasingly locust. This is a fantastic new edition to the multiplayer and is a very original take on cooperative online play.

Now let's talk guns shall we? After all a shooter is only as good as its guns and Gears 2 gives you plenty of them. The main new edition is that of mounted weapons, a mini-gun and mortar, they behave exactly how you'd expect them a mini-gun and mortar to behave in Gears of War. The mini-gun can take down the biggest enemies in mere seconds and reduce them to chunks. However the mortar takes a bit more practice to master, you have to line up your trajectory with the right amount of distance to make sure that you hit your target. Doing so is definitely worth it as one shot from this can take out entire waves of pretty much anything. The scorcher (flamethrower) is easily the best flamethrower to ever appear in a game, hitting the active perfectly will make your flame go faster and burn hotter, perfect for making grown men scream like little girls over X-Box live! (or making girls scream like girls, if that's your thing).

Difficulty wise Gears 2 is pretty much on par with the first, although normal mode bridges the gap between casual and hardcore this time, casual now being a “very easy” equivalent. All of these modes are quite well balanced, but seeing as games these days seem determined to make us break our controllers “insane” mode has taken a turn into cheapville. 3 or 4 shots will take you to the game over screen in this mode, it's still manageable though, as long as you're not doing an impression of Rambo, but coop is advised.

Graphics/Sound:

There's not much that can be said here, Gears 1 was a phenomenal technical achievement. Gears 2 looks and sounds even better in every aspect, this is easily the best looking game to come out in this generation and quite frankly, makes most games look ugly in comparison. However you will notice the odd texture here and there that isn't quite up to the standards of the rest, but taking into consideration how often this happens it's easily forgiven.

Sound wise Gears 2 is pretty much as good as it gets. The sound in this game is absolutely flawless, from the squelch of organs under your boots to the over-heating of the mini-gun, this game is easily the best sounding game to come out in a very long time, and is going to take some beating in this category.

Story:

Gears 1 was always criticised for having a very poor story. Epic have clearly tried to make the story in Gears 2 better, and they have succeeded, there's much more reason to watch the FMV's this time around than in the original. However, it does feel very forced on you as the gamer; the main story arc is Dom searching for his wife, which was only mentioned in the manual in the original game. To take it from that to a significant plot-line is a brave move and to their credit Epic pulls it off quite well, but most fans will most probably not care about the story, seeing as Gears 1 was all about the action. I mean you don't got to the same Chinese restaurant for 2 years and hope in the third they'll start doing Italian food now do you?...

Overall:

Gears of War 2 sure had a lot to deliver on because of the quality of the original and there's no denying the fact that Epic would never have been able to please everyone, but it's safe to say that they definitely tried their best in almost every area. The campaign in Gears 2 is easily one of the best in any modern shooter and still stands taller than most for coop action. The multiplayer is really the only thing that has undergone significant change and depending on what kind of player you are, this will be the deciding factor in whether or not you enjoy the game. If you like tactical multiplayer and objective based gameplay rather than just Rambo style running and gunning then you'll definitely enjoy what Gears 2 can offer you. However if you're a stubborn Gears 1 player that shudders at the sound of change, then you'll probably be annoyed at the changes, although it's nice to see a shooter with great multiplayer where that isn't the only thing on offer. The campaign is brilliant and like I said, depending on what kind of player you are, you'll either kind of enjoy this game, or you will seriously enjoy this game.

Overall score: 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/12/09

Game Release: Gears of War 2 (Collector's Edition) (EU, 11/07/08)


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