Review by Groves22

"Gears of War 2 - Action Packed Bloody Mess!"

The long awaited sequel to the smash hit Gears of War has finally arrived. Epic released the monster, Gears of War 2, on November 7, 2008. To be honest, this was the first game I went to the midnight launch for. And as a father of an 8 month old baby, and a job in the morning, that should say something, right?

Let me just get this out of the way first. When I first played Gears of War, I hated it. I had it for 4 days and sold it on eBay. Why? I don't think I really gave it a chance, because I was more into “realistic” type gunfire. GRAW2 and Rainbow Six: Vegas were what I was playing, and what I liked at the time. I then bought Halo 3 and then Army of Two, and got used to the amount of bullets it would take to kill a man. I was willing to give Gears of War 2 a chance now.

So far, it hasn't completely let me down. There are some things that annoy me, which I will get to, but the good is definitely better than the bad/annoying! I really can't compare this to the first, due to me never playing it, but I will rate this game for what it is, Gears of War 2.

The controls are rather simple to use and do not feel too clunky. The standard RT to fire and LT to aim is present. The A button while held will make you run or when tapped take cover behind something. B is your melee, while X is your active button. The D-pad is your weapon selection and the RB is your active reload. Also on select weapons, you can press the RS while aiming for zoom.

The weapons in the game all serve their individual purpose, and all have the correct times to use them. To start, everyone (SP or MP) starts out with a Lancer or Hammerbusrt (AR), Gnasher (Shotgun), Smoke grenade, and pistol. Throughout levels of the story or placed in spawn parts of a MP map you can acquire 2 other pistols, sniper rifle, torque bow, boomshot, mortar, mulcher (chain gun), poison ink/frag grenades, boomshield and a flame thrower. Every gun, obviously, has its faults and strengths, but if used right can be deadly.

The Lancer comes equipped with a gas powered chainsaw. While you are close to an opponent, you can hold B and cut them in half. However, if the other player has the chainsaw revving, you will enter a chainsaw duel. This duel will have both players mashing B as fast as they can to win. Whoever presses B faster, cuts their opponent in half. While this is going on, you are still vulnerable to attack, however. You can also tag walls with any grenade you have equipped. So if you want to fortify the entrance into your hiding spot, you can place a well hid grenade to either kill or hinder the opponent.

There are several ways to execute players in Gears of War 2. You can press the X button the curb-stomp the downed enemy. You have the option of pressing B, to do a quick strike to the back of their head. And you press Y, which will have you flip the downed enemy, and finish them off with 3 punches to the head. Also with Y, certain guns have a certain animation instead of the 3 punches. Finally you can press A to pick the downed enemy up and use them has a shield, a meat shield. From there, the body can fall apart by taking gunfire, or you can simply press X to snap their neck and move on.

The audio and visuals of Gears of War 2 seem to be on par with what I expected. Each gun has it's own unique sound, which you can hear all the way across the map. An example, you can hear when someone is about to fire the torque bow, with its unique sound or a mortar shell being fired into the air. You can hear footsteps, and they change based on the ground. You can also hear the characters interact or make noises while running/firing their weapons. The game also has some environment destruction, while not like Battlefield: Bad Company, it is noticeable and fits in nicely with the game.

Now on to some gameplay…

The very first thing my brother, brother-in-law, 2 other friends and I wanted to do was play Horde mode. Once we got home, after midnight mind you, we all hopped on and started a game of Horde. Horde is a new game type added, which received a lot of hype, from what I read throughout forums. It kind of reminded me of Defend mode from GRAW2. You and some friends have to fight off 5 10-wave attacks from various members of the locust army. Each wave you will see more enemies, along with bigger enemies. Once you complete the first wave of 10, it starts all over, but the enemies will get harder. For example, the enemies could take more damage, deal more damage, and be more accurate. In order to complete wave 50, you need teamwork!

Other game modes you can choose are Warzone, Execution, Guardian, King of the Hill, Annex, Submission and Wingman. Warzone and Execution are virtually the same, except in execution, you have to kill your opponent by executing them or with a one-shot kill. King of the Hill and Annex are similar, except the “hill” in annex will move after so many points have been earned. Guardian you have a leader, and until the leader is dead respawns are active. Submission has a neutral AI which needs to be downed and carried to the destination. Wingman is a 5 two-man free-for-all type game.

Overall the online is enjoyable, but there are some minor annoyances with it. First, you can't choose the game type you want to play. You choose a group, Elimination, Territories, Wingman, or Horde. From there, players in the lobby vote on which game type to play, out of 2 random from the group. Then the players vote on the map, which is kind of like most shooters out today. What really makes me mad is if I want to play guardian, and I get stuck playing a game mode I don't want. I will stick and fight through it, but some gamers will just quit and leave, making it a handicap match, which sucks!

The matchmaking is also not the greatest, right now. You can wait anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes to be put into a lobby. However, if you have a group of 4 other friends to play with, it is normally under a minute to find a game. There are also several glitches found which are ruining the gameplay online. If you can deal with those 2 issues, you won't have a problem with the online gameplay. But like any game, be prepared for some matches to have more lag than others.

The single player campaign is about 8-10 hours long. There are 4 difficulties; Casual, Normal, Hardcore and Insane. The insane difficulty is unlocked after you beat the game on Hardcore, which reminds me of Army of Two. There is also a co-op mode, where you and a friend can go through the entire game together over Xbox Live or locally on your own machine, with split-screen.

I'm not exactly sure how the story ties in with the first, but not playing the first Gears, didn't really leave me on an island not knowing what is going on.

If you're an achievement junky, this game should produce an easy 600-750 points through one run through of the SP and playing local matches with friends for some other achievements. There are about 4 achievements that will take a little longer than others, which include; 100,000 kills (Seriously 2.0), Play 1999 rounds (Party Like It's 1999), Win 10 rounds as leader (name slipped me?) and 10 meatflag captures (name slipped me?).

Since playing Gears of War 2, I have bought the first Gears and will give it another shot. I really enjoy playing the game with friends and the amount of blood and gore just adds to the enjoyment… Is that so wrong?!?


Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/01/09

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

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