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Gears of War 2 Review

gears_war2037
Genres: Action
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Review Date: 26-8-2009
Review Platform: XBOX360
Review Region: AU Available In Australia
Est Playtime: 9+ hrs
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Gears of War 2 continues from the first game following the exploits of Delta Squad during the war against the Locust. The Lightmass Bomb, from the first game, failed to destroy the Locust. Jacinta, the last human city, is now directly under threat from invasion so COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) launches a counter attack. Marcus Fenix and Dom are right in the thick of it as the assault begins. Domís wife is still missing and mystery still surrounds Marcusís father.

gears_war2017I had the misfortune of being introduced to the Gears of War series through the PC port of the original. It was buggy, didnít look that good, and was otherwise forgettable. This time Iím playing the game where it belongs on the Xbox 360.

gears_war2011Gears of War 2 like any sequel takes what the first did and tries to take it to another level. The game begins with the COG forces going on the offensive against the Locust horde. Dozens of huge vehicles set out from Jacinto with the player mounting the vehicleís weapons taking on the incoming Locust. Itís a cool sequence and things are shaken up by another vehicle getting taken over. As the player you have to take out this vehicle before it sends you off a cliff. I didnít really follow what was going on the first time, amongst all the action, so I failed. There are a number of timed events like this and vehicle sections dispersed throughout the game. Luckily the vehicle sections are streets ahead of the bat vehicle section in the first Gears. The grandiose scale present in the beginning doesnít last long and its back to just your squad of guys. It left me wondering what was happening to the rest of Jacintaís forces. Speaking of your squad they all make a return, Baird, Cole Train, and Dom are waiting to resurrect you if you get severely wounded. I still died a few times when they were off fighting or when I was just with Dom.

gears_war2025From what I remember of the originalís gameplay not much has changed. Itís still an action packed, cover driven slaughter fest which I greatly enjoyed. It seems to be an experience that works best with a TV and a controller. One feature I think was added to the gameplay is the ability to use fallen enemies as a human shield so to speak. Though I never managed to do that, I kept my distance popping up from behind cover to drill them. Anytime I tried to rush enemies I was quickly minced.

gears_war2038The gameís primary weapon is still the lancer which is an automatic rifle equipped with a chainsaw. Enemies can easily be sliced in half if you ever come face to face with one and sometimes you can get into chainsaw duels. Other weapons include: the sniper rifle, the shotgun, several pistols, the hammer of dawn (remote control for a satellite), the flamethrower, mortar, and mini gun. You can carry two weapons at a time as well as a pistol. The flamethrower was fun although I only found it on one or two occasions. Like Halo the mini gun is picked up from dead enemies and I loved mowing them down with it. I would have been happy with it permanently.

gears_war2032The gameís story is also a step up from the original. It tries to take a more serious or mature approach and I thought it was a bit late to do that now. I mean itís a game about big ugly guys, swearing and being macho; it was never that deep. I didnít really care what happened to Domís wife which is fair chunk of the story. That aside the game doesnít explain anything that happens. Why are the Locust taking prisoners? Why did I just go to that secret facility? It only raises questions and never answers them. A few other things that need mentioning are the well handled tutorial and the controls. The tutorial slowly introduces the games functions in an integrated fashion and can be entirely skipped. The controls are perfectly designed although I have a few nit picks to make. You should be able to select cover when youíre firing so when you finish you duck down. And pressing the cover button should remove you from cover; instead it has a tendency to activate leap. Youíre squad mates also have a habit of blocking you when thereís only limited cover. Additionally the game offers the occasional choice between two different paths, like taking cover in the hotel or rooftop. I imagine in CO-OP this feature would pretty cool with one team covering the other as they pushed forward. The whole game seems right for multiplayer CO-OP action.

gears_war2020Gears of a War 2 is about as good looking as you could expect from a game world that consists entirely of brown and grey. The convoy section at the beginning of the game stands out in mind as graphical high point. Although I never liked the vehicle designs, they look too chunky to be even able to move. Continuing the trend lately I donít remember the music. Thatís probably the way it should be in action game where the sounds of gun fire should out weigh almost everything else.

Gears of War 2 is an action packed slaughter fest thatís right at home on the console. The story is improved over the first game but itís somewhat missed placed and under explained. The scale of the action is also greater although this doesnít last long. The cover driven mechanics and accompanying squad mates lead to great fire fights, which is what really counts. Gears of War 2 is an action game done right.


   Excellent
 
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