The original Gears of War was arguably the Xbox 360's first killer app. Thats not to say it didn't have its problems, though. It didn't have much of a story, the cover system occasionally had its problems, and the online play was kind of a afterthought. Gears of War tries to makes vast improvements to these problems, yet doesn't succeed in all of them. All in all, though, it is everything Cliffy B said it would be. It is "BIgger, Better, and more Badass."
The biggest change made is the story. It's much more compelling than the first one was because it seems to succeed in area's where the original failed. Such as clarifying why the war is even going on, or what the character motivations are. That being said, it was a smart move of Epic to play the emotional card with Dom as apposed to Marcus. His search for his wife is moves the story along in a satisfying way and leads to some of story's best moments.
The gameplay has also had some tweaks made. In addition to weapon balancing, the cover system has been improved. You don't hit the undesired source of cover as much as in the first game. That being said, it did have have a weird habit of throwing me out of cover when maneuvering around cover. New weapons have been added such as a flamethrower, as well as heavy weapons like a mortar launcher and a chain gun that you can mount to cover. The biggest criticism about the gameplay I can make is the vehicle sections. These are just barely more fun than the one in the original. This is pretty disappointing considering how hyped a few of them were.
The online has also received some changes. There are new modes such as "Submission" and "Wingman," and returning modes like "Annex" and "Warzone" with minor tweaks. The most popular addition seems to be the co-operative "Horde Mode." IN it, you and up to four other player taking on 50 increasingly difficult waves of locust. These are all lots of fun, which makes it all the more disappointing that, as of writing, the matchmaking system is broken. It takes too long to find matches, with players frequently leaving due to the long waits. My advice, play with friends, it moves a lot faster. It also occasionally has some glitches when you do find a match. For example, in a game of "Guardian," I somehow was faced against a team of five, by myself, (As you can imagine, I got crushed.)
This game is perhaps the best example of of what the Unreal Engine 3.5 can do. The amount of detail shown in the environments is amazing. And the number of enemies that can be put onscreen at once makes for some battles of epic proportions. The score is good. The dialogue, which was a criticism of the original game, is still a little simplistic. But this is a minor gripe.
I had a lot of fun with Gears of War 2's campaign. The fun will probably continue when and if Epic puts out a functional matchmaking patch, (Which by all means, they'd be stupid if they didn't.) That doesn't stop me from giving it my reccomendation, though. This is a game that must be played.
Other reviews for Gears of War 2 (Limited Collector's Edition) (Xbox 360)
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