Last week Microsoft held an event devoted to letting people play through Gears of War 2. This was one of the first times that people were allowed to play through the game's campaign mode.
In short--because I'm leaving for the airport to head to Tokyo in a few minutes--Gears of War 2's campaign is largely what you'd expect, from a gameplay perspective. The new stuff, like additional weapons or additional maneuvers, is sprinkled throughout, but yes, you're still armed with a lancer at the outset. Yes, the game opens with an optional tutorial. And yes, it's quality stuff.
The game opens with one of the Carmine brothers joining Delta Squad. He's an absolute rookie, so this is how the game handles its tutorial--it's you as Marcus walking around with Dom and taking the rookie through a few basic moves, which is obviously designed to get you back up to speed, as well. From there, the Locust forces launch an assault on the hospital that your forces currently call home. It's here you meet one of the game's new characters, a spiritual, tattooed guy named Tai. From there, you know, you fight the Locust. The main difference I noticed is the one that Epic and Microsoft have been showing off all along--the game takes place on a larger scale than the original did. You might have to go back and play the original game to appreciate the game's differences right off the bat.
That also goes for the game's graphics. Sure, look at screenshots of Gears of War 2, and you might sort of shrug and make some derogatory "Gears 1.5" sort of comment. But when you compare the two games, it's easy to see that Gears 2 is, at times, a dramatic improvement over the original. Along with the size of the areas you're moving through, there has also been a very nice bump in detail all around. The improvements might seem subtle if you haven't touched the original Gears in a while.
Oh, and later in the game? You'll totally get to fly a Reaver. The context is something we're not allowed to talk about, but since the details surrounding it probably qualify as spoilers for the game's story, it's not something I'd want to get into anyway. It's a fun, great-looking sequence.
Then there's the multiplayer... but we can't talk about that until later in the month. Take a look at these new screenshots while I go stuff toiletry items into a bag and run off to Tokyo. We'll definitely have more in the weeks ahead.