An Alternative Take on Gears of War 2
I've read all the glowing reviews and I've seen my friends and family swoon over this game, the second in the Gears of War series. I'd played the first one, and it didn't really appeal to me. But the hype over the sequel (and a video I saw of the first vehicle sequence) led me to give Gears 2 a shot and the benefit of the doubt.
A friend brought over his copy for some co-op action, which is my favorite way to play action games. After spending some time on the multiplayer and the campaign, my failure to see the merits of this series continues. I really don't understand the hype. Sure, it's polished and many refer to the visuals as "beautiful" (if you can call a combination of splattering blood, hideous aliens, scarred faces, chunky everything, and a color palette of brown, brown, brown, and gray "beautiful"). Oh yeah, the protagonists do have those pretty little blue LED's all over their armor! I suppose looking inconspicuous has no place in the war against the Locust. This is all very strange. The heroes' armor is the same (lack of?) color as the environment, except for those blue lighties. Maybe I'm over-thinking the lighties.
Playing the campaign just got boring. Actually, I was bored right off the bat. I don't know what it is about the game that other people find fun, but the running to a broken hunk of concrete, taking cover, then shooting inaccurately until the alien is dead from the 4 out of 10 bullets that actually connected just isn't my idea of fun. And that lovely video with the vehicle sequence? Playing it wasn't as impressive as watching the video. It takes the game on rails and pushes you through a gauntlet. You can shoot at the aliens along the way, but it becomes especially difficult to target accurately when the thing you’re standing on lists and drops and sways while you’re aiming. At the end of this sequence is a cave stage with glowing blue mushrooms, which are apparently used to break the monotony of the browns and grays. Oh, except that they’re basically the same color as the lighties on your armor. So…scratch that. They don’t really do anything to break the monotone vibe established at the beginning of the game.
This cave level is the point at which I gave up, realizing the reason I’d played that far—because I thought my friend was into it—was moot because no one in the room was particularly enjoying the game. Someone might say that I didn’t give it a chance—that I should have stuck with it a little longer, etc. But why continue playing if it didn’t grab my attention in the first place? If the game gets better after this point, doesn’t it deserve demerits for not being interesting until later on? Yet the vast majority seems to be totally enthralled by the Gears of War experience. I just don’t get it.
Back to the elephant in the room, the graphics: yes, they are technically spectacular. The level of detail and the smoothness are astounding. There’s not a single flaw that I noticed while playing.
Well, no objective flaw. Subjectively, however…
What the hell is wrong with the humans in Gears? I get the aliens. You can make aliens look however you want to. But every living creature in Gears of War 2 could benefit from a visit to fat camp. Unlike on Earth, in the GW universe, when men get fat, the bonus adipose accumulates in their heads, necks, arms, chests, and especially their lower legs. They look like ménage e tois love children of Weebles®, G.I. Joes™, and the cast from The Chronicles of Riddick. They’re beefier than any NFL linebacker or Tennessee pro-wrestler ever hoped to be. And they’ve got beefy names like Tai, Dom, and Marcus Fenix. And they battle beefy enemies with beefy names like Locust, Reavers, and Brumak. They do it with meaty, thick weapons that include chunky chainsaw bayonets and hulking hunks of shotguns and beefy turrets firing large-caliber rounds. And they take shelter behind "meat shields"--their own term, not mine!
Geezaflip. I know pork is the preferred linked-wiener meat, generally speaking, but this is one testosterone-laden Pepperidge Farm© Beef Summer Sausage of a game.
The Gears of War series subscribes to the giant, armor-bound, thick-legged men newsletter started by Unreal Tournament and continued with games like Fracture. And Fracture was a turd, but at least its depositor had eaten his greens beforehand (think about it).
Gears of War 2, however, is a poo-colored borefest for me. I get that lots of people like it and would probably get mad reading my take on it. However, I am pretty tired of all the gushing over the series and wanted to provide an alternative take on it. I seem to be the only gamer I know (besides that one friend) who isn’t all about Gears. And you know what? Those friends who do like it can’t seem to give me any good reasons why they do…. Hm… “The graphics are amazing.” “There’s lots of blood when you chainsaw someone!” That’s about all I get. Maybe that’s about all there is to it.