Review by laerfan

"Rev up those Lancers!"

As one of those few Xbox 360 owners who didn't immediately jump on the Gears of War bandwagon, I found the original initially quite dull and was not engrossed in any way. It felt sluggish to me and awkward, not the next-gen shooter I was promised. After some time and a few more attempts to be swayed by it, I finally got through the first few acts of the Campaign and thorougly enjoyed the second half of the game.

And now, Gears of War 2 has come along and it is my 2008 Game of the Year.

What have Epic done to improve the game in my opinion? It's quite difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is, as the game plays almost identically. Perhaps the larger areas, more variety in weaponry, more enemies and large scale combat has given Gears its true lifeforce, some I thought the original was keeping a lid on in many ways. The story is certainly a high point in this sequel, engrossing from beginning to end, and its blockbuster spectacle is unrivalled on any platform.

Gears 2 is also a much more balanced game, especially on Multiplayer and the new Horde mode is nail-biting in its ferocity. 50 waves of ever growing and increasingly difficult enemies swarm the multiplayer maps, and it's up to you (alone or with up to 4 buddies) to survive and conquer. Other multiplayer modes like the Meatflag variant are nice touches, truly inspired in some places and outlandish in others.

The games achievements are also quite fun to go for. Most are simply for passing certain stages, but there are others that will have you trying to master certain weapons for a certain number of kills and others will have you search for all of teh games collectibles, much like the COG tags of the original. And unlike achievements in some other games, even the hardest ones will come to you with a little time that you won't notice going by online.

For me, Gears of War 2 is the most improved sequel I've seen in a long long time. For anyone worried that it's merely a mission pack, you couldn't be more wrong. It's a refined, complete package, truly a landmark for the Xbox 360 and sporting the most amazing visuals Unreal Engine 3 has managed to date.

Even if you weren't overly impressed by the first game, this is such a class act, you will be won over, just like I was. Go on, rev up that Lancer and get ready for a gaming experience like none other!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/12/09

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

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