Review by RorschachZERO

"Gears if War 2: Too Much Hype, Not Enough Delivery"

So, Gears of War 2 was probably the most anticipated game of 2008. Fans of the original Gears of War desperately looked forward to the continuation of the story, new online maps, new characters, new weapons, the new matchmaking system, and the newly fixed shotgun and so forth. So the question really is did Gears of War 2 live up to the hype? The answer is not really.

On the campaign front they just went over the top. The boss fights are really out there, the bosses reminding me of such bosses found in Ninja Gaiden 2 and God of War. The new characters were not very memorable and didn't really get developed at all so there was no real connection to them. I also noticed a few glitches here and there like that at some points doors you need to kick open would be invisible. The ending was very anti-climactic and disappointing. The parts in the campaign that really got fans excited was the parts where you would get to ride certain Locust controlled "vehicles" (can't go into detail for spoilers sake). The experiences were disappointing as well and had some awkward control schemes. Epic also, for whatever reason added totally useless and unexciting things to this games campaign. For example at one point the player and another squad mate must grab either side of a box and maneuver it to a door. The way they set up the controls player could sit in one spot and spin around in a circle for 20 minutes before they figure it out. This game's campaign was however longer than that of Gears 1 and had much larger scale battles which I enjoyed. The game went into more detail about the Locusts and their origins and such which was good. The whole side story about Dom and his wife was boring and unneeded.

So, now the multiplayer. First I'm addressing the problem that is STILL the shotgun. The shotgun still gets an unrealistic amount of range. The claim that the lancer's new "stopping power" is the solution to the "run up to everyone and one hit them" technique, but sadly you can shoot a lancer towards all your flanks at once so people still just run up and one hit shotgun you. The new maps are cool and have some neat features like a avalanche that periodically falls and kills all in its path and laser doors. The new versions of the old maps are really nice, and I find myself liking the new models more than those of Gears 1. Epic also decided to add a new problem to pal around with the shotgun. This problem would be the now overpowered chainsaw. It is now VERY difficult to make someone revving their chainsaw flinch and you will most of the time end up getting chopped in half. This causes for extremely boring online matches in which everyone just runs across the map and chainsaws the entire opposing team. To this I ask: Why, Epic, did you try to fix something that wasn't broken? The new weapons vary in usefulness. The mortar and mulcher guns add a significant edge to whatever team has them in their possession. The boomshield was an interesting concept but is overall pretty useless. In my opinion the best new weapon would be the Scorcher flamethrower, it's powerful without being totally overpowered. The gun specific executions are fun and creative, but that just isn't the selling point of a game. Epic also made it so weapons cycle each round. Where one round you find a torque bow, in the next round it will be replaced with a longshot. This is a welcome change and adds a less monotonous feel to a multiplayer game. The addition of the "meatshield mechanic is actually helpful and will definatley save your life in certain situations. Oh yeah, and you can take pictures after you die. Wow.

The new matchmaking system is foolish. The way it works is you go into a lobby and find a team of 5 players or friends. The team is then transfered into a new lobby with another team of 5. From here the game will display two game modes, for example Warzone and Execution. The players then vote for what mode they want to play. Then, it will display 2 maps and you would then vote for your preferred map. Afterwards, you pick your character and gun (lancer or hammerburst) and the game will begin. So no longer can you pick the game type you want on the map you want. It's totally up to chance and can throw you into a game you really don't want to play. But, the best part is (sarcasm) that once you're in the game you can't leave. You either have to play through it or return to the Dashboard. The Gears 1 way of finding matches was so much more effective.

Now onto the best part of the game, Horde Mode. In Horde, a team of 5 player takes on 50 waves of increasingly difficult Locusts. Teamwork is ESSENTIAL in this mode, which is a refreshing change. You will get totally engrossed in holding off the locusts from killing your friends and entering whatever kind of stronghold you and your friends decide to keep. There is no one way to play Horde either. You can simply run around the level Rambo style killing Locusts or you and your friends can combine your efforts and gather is one spot, forming kind of a central base, and hold off the Locusts there. The experience is different each time and never really becomes monotonous. You will find yourself getting excited and desperately trying to get to wave 50 and WILL devote hours of your time to it. I found myself droning through the many hours it took to get through the campaign mode but with horde, you'll be having fun for hours on end. This is by far the best addition to this game, but sadly, the rest of the game does not keep up to par with this wonderful game type.

So, is this the sequel to Gears of War we've been hoping for? Not quite. The problems with multiplayer and campaign really shine through and make it not feel at all like Gears of War, but something is the genre of Kill Mythical Creatures with A Super-Chainsaw game. Is this game worth your $60? Sadly, not really. Perhaps they should have put more thought into what a real sequel to Gears of War would be and just made us wait a bit longer. Problem and all, I gave this game a 6/10 because the problems overwhelm the good qualities and make this game an unexciting experience. Maybe next time Epic, maybe next time.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/10/08

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

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