Review by FriendlyGamer
A sequel not worthy of its title.
Gears of war was an phenomenal game. It wasn't perfect, no game is, but it did so many things right, it was hard to believe that a sequel could possibly improve upon it, without of course, jeopardizing the things which made it great.
Epic games went the extra mile, sure, but down the wrong road. They fixed what wasn't broke, broke what had been fixed, broke even worse what was already broken, and plastered this all together with very few genuine improvements.
Well at least I can start on a high note. Wait, no I can't. The blood in this game looks like pale clotted jam, and what's more, the textures have lost their dark, gritty detail, replaced instead by bright, bland shades of often intense colour, that have absolutely no ability to immerse the player and relate him/her to the so-called world of "destroyed beauty".
Character models are polished yes, but to the point where they now appear smooth and rounded, given a cartoon-like appearance. Gore effects have lost their edge aswell, enemies make an odd "squish" sound when blown apart, their body parts propelled upwards in a awkward curve before falling amongst the jam-like blood. Headshots are just as disappointing, a newcomer to the series might be satisfied, but the gore in Gears 2 is cringeful in comparison to what its predecessor had to offer. I bought a HDTV in anticipation for this game, I never anticipated that I would ever have to criticise the visuals like I have done.
Unfortunately, the sound is nothing to write home about. None of the background music was especially memorable and even more disappointing were some of the new gun sounds. They should have left well alone in this category, guns like the pistol, shotgun and sniper sounded awesome in Gears 1. The new shotgun now makes a deep thump when shot rather than a bang, and the pistol has exchanged its metallic sound when fired for something considerably squeaky.
The gameplay is perceived as "improved" by many people due to the inclusion of new weapons and subtle additions such as numerous executions, wall-grenade tagging, new enemies e.t.c.... Interesting as these things are though, they cannot compensate for the sluggish movement introduced into the game's engine, forcing you to run, roll and strafe at a much lower speed, like the air on Sera has for no apparent reason gained the density of custard.
This design choice may well been to make the game feel slower and more tactical either more in the campaign or online, or both, so that the game would be similar to how the developers originally planned the first game to be. Whatever the reason, for me, the action didn't flow as smoothly as it did in Gears 1, and bits of the campaign such as the tickers in the tunnel and the underground attack on the locust, did not stack up to some of the more memorable moments I can think of in Gears 1, which, as I now deeply appreciate, does not contain any walking tumors which surround and slap you like a gang of particularly violent chavs.
Take everything I've said I dislike about Gears 2 and chuck it into multiplayer. Then add some bland, poorly designed maps and lag. Next, pour in the various multiplayer modes and stir in some GOD DAMN BS, which should be a fine consistency of smoke grenades, messed up hit detection and glitches. Sprinkle this with frustration and remember to exclude the fact you can't choose what map and gametype you want to play.
There you have it, the dish called FUBAR.
As you will have gathered, I'm not a great fan of Gears of war 2. I don't like the way it looks, sounds, plays and the way it puts WAY too much emphasis on the story, which has never been that great since the start of the first game. Bosses were not that great in either of the games, which is why I did not bother to compare them. I do not recommend anyone to buy this game, rent it at the most if you really want to try it.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Gears of War 2 (EU, 11/07/08)
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