The best thing about the way everyone involved with Gears of War 2 keeps calling it “bigger, better, more badass” is that it makes me think we’re all talking about the Neo Geo, which everyone knows is “bigger, badder, and better.” After all, it’s 24-bits. I have no segue here. Let’s talk Gears 2.
You’ve probably all seen the video of Gears of War 2 that was released last week, which finally shows a bit of gameplay involving big derricks full of armed humans against the Locust horde, including a couple of brumaks and a whole mess of your regular soldiers. At Microsoft’s recent Spring showcase event, The Unsinkable Cliff Bleszinski was out west to show more of that same encounter to the press. It was my first time seeing the game in motion in something other than a streaming window. And yeah, it looks pretty amazing.
The huge battlefield we were shown makes “bigger, better, more badass” seem like an actual development mantra, not just slick talk. The core things about Gears of War appear to be roughly the same, like the ability to find cover, active reloads, and the way the game constantly points out objects in the environment and lets you press the Y button if you want to swing the camera around and see it for yourself. Though the game obviously isn’t final, and there’s still a lot that could change, things like the little gong-type sound that plays when you complete an objective or hit a checkpoint are the same. Overall, a lot of the things on display already felt very familiar.
The difference is that these defining mechanics are being placed into a game that, from hearing what the people working on it have to say, is much more ambitious than the first. It’s easy to see that the game operates on a much larger scale than the corridor-heavy action of the first game. As you’re rolling around in these huge derricks, you’ll see swarms of Locust soldiers rushing over to another vehicle and busting out grappling hooks in an attempt to hijack it. Only they’ll be tiny because they’re far away. You’ve seen the brumaks attempting to stop the human advance in this level, well there’s also a corpser–that’s the giant spider thing that you sent flying into the lava-like immulsion in the previous game–that pops up and impedes your progress, too.
At one point, your derrick breaks down and you have to guard the pilot, a conscripted Stranded named Dizzy, as he attempts to fix things up. This means you get out of the derrick and hit the ground, slide behind cover, and close up some old-fashioned emergence holes, just like they did back in the old days of Gears 1. After providing some cover for the repairs, you hop back on-board and seamlessly get moving again. It’s a small, but solid example of how the game will provide some minute-to-minute variety, something that representatives said would be a big factor this time around.
Of course, there are some new moves to play around with, as well. There will be new execution animations for the different weapons, and new weapons, like a burst pistol that seems to pop off five shots every time you pull the trigger. Vehicles will play a larger role, and you’ll be able to ride around in more of them, as well has use some of them for cover, from the sounds of things. You’ve probably seen the new chainsaw clashes, where you’ll need to mash the B button to come out on top. Players are no longer invincible when sawing enemies, so you’ll be happy to know that the chainsaw clashes don’t leave you exposed any longer than an unopposed sawing would.
That sounds like the sort of thing that would come up in a conversation about multiplayer balance, but no one’s getting too specific about multiplayer plans just yet. I will say that the demo we saw was launched from a menu screen marked “campaign lobby.” This is just me speculating here, but two-player games don’t need lobbies, you know what I mean? So my guess is four-player co-op. The one bit of info we did get is that co-op players will be able to play on different difficulties, which sounds a little weird. The player playing on the harder setting might have less health, or weaker weapons. Also, this would have an effect in sections of the game where the players split up.
So there’s plenty that we still don’t know about Gears of War 2, but if the whole game offers that sort of “big battle” feeling shown in the level on display, it’s probably going to be pretty rad.