junior_ain's Gears of War 2 (Limited Collector's Edition) (Xbox 360) review

One of the most action-packed games of all time.

 Gears of War 2 is the direct sequel to Gears of War. It follows the footsteps of the previous game and innovates in aspects that really let you feeling that something has been brought to the table and nothing good about the last game was left out. Of course the main focus of the game is the same, start, pass through some chaotic locations, find some enemies, get cover and fight to proceed. The formula is still fresh and still delivers the fun needed.

The game still consists of 5 chapters and the whole experience is very brief, only lasting a maximum of 10 hours or a little more, anyone familiar with the gameplay of the previous game could finish the game in less than 10 hours easily. Maybe that's why sometimes you feel like this game is shorter than the first one, in the first Gears of War the whole gameplay was still fresh and now we pretty much have it nailed. The game is short, but while it lasts it never lets you down, and when I say never I really mean it. This can arguably be one of the most action-packed games of all time, the pace is always frantic and endless action will accompany you throughout the adventure from the very beginning until the very end. Needless to say that after you finish it for the first time you'll feel almost obliged to start all over again in a higher difficulty, the first game leaves a similar impression too.

The game is slightly less dark than the first one, but the locations turned out to be more exotic too. The  architecture is still very archaic and some pretty insane twists will be constantly happening. This time the story gets a little more attention, and you'll find some interesting cutscenes all over the game, some are somewhat emotional, along with the usual funny lines and story key facts. The voices used the the cutscenes and in-game are still top-notch, the voice actors are the same and again they successfully capture the essence of each character and portray to the screen with perfection.

The multiplayer continues strong, all the awesomeness of the first installment are present with some more-than-welcome additions. You can, before entering in any online match, train your multiplayer skill with bots and get to know the game modes, you choose the difficulty of the bots, the quantity, and start the match. The game modes are the following: Warzone, Submission, Wingman, Execution, Guardian, Annex and King of the Hill. Warzone is the usual deathmatch, two teams in one map, each team with five players, you got the idea. Submission is a little strange at first, you need to find, shoot and capture a stranded who will be around the map, get him and move the guy over to a specified location, the first team to successfully do that wins the match, so whenever you are killed you'll respawn instantly. Wingman is a mode that will separate the players in teams of two players, it's up to five teams each match, you and your team mate will be the same chosen character. The Horde is one of the most interesting modes, you and your team will begin in one map and fight hordes of enemies, the more hordes you beat, the harder it gets in the next round, pretty fun. In Execution you need to finish your enemy off after you take him down otherwise he'll just stand up again, a one-shot kill or any instant kill move will do the job just fine too, like the chainsaw or a grenade. For Guardian each team has a leader and as long as the leader is alive the whole team will keep respawning, if the leader is killed then the next time you get killed you'll be gone too, basically you need to protect the leader at all costs. In Annex teams have infinite respawns too, and to win you need to reach a certain amount of points, the points are received by dominating and holding position of certain locations. In the famous King of the Hill game mode you need to dominate only one location in one round, whichever team that manages to dominate the location wins the game, you get infinite respawns, except when defending a captured location. The game is shipped with ten different multiplayer maps.

The difficulty level can be compared with the one on the first game, you'll be forced to face occasions with hordes of various enemies to kill, some put you in a place with nowhere to run and things can get ugly at a higher difficulty setting. The Boomers are somewhat less deadly and some others creatures will debut to make your life living hell, like Bloodmounts, which are mounts with a drone mounted on, if you try to melee with one of these beasts you'll find big trouble, and they are no less deadly at long range so keep an eye out for them. The only downside in this department happens to be the absence of the Berzerkers, they were really cool and played a major role in the first game, they should have brought them back in the second installment.

The new weapons include a new grenade, the ink grenade, that besides exploding it liberates a toxic gas that will drain health of anyone inside the perimeter of the hit. The Mulcher, which is a heavy machine gun with rapid and destructive shooting. A flamethrower named The Scorcher, it does what any flamethrower would do. The Gorgon Pistol that does wonderful damage at close range. The Boomshield is simply a shield and if you want to use a weapon with it you are allowed, but it will have to be a light one, namely, a pistol. And for last but not least, the almighty Mortar Launcher, which is a somewhat cheap long range weapon, it shoots an explosive to the skies for it to form of a rain of fire, it is immensely destructive and acts at a determined perimeter, anyone inside that perimeter will certainly be reduced to bits, if you spot a wielder of this weapon in a place with no shelter at hand, you're pretty much screwed so the best bet is to kill the spotted enemy as fast as possible to get rid of this deadly menace. The Mulcher, the Boomshield and the Mortar Launcher are guns that doesn't occupy a place in your inventory, you basically get them and only will be able to use them as long as you hold it and still have bullets or missiles, with the exception of the Boomshield that allows you to hold a pistol as well. With the Berzerkers out, another gun that doesn't get any attention in the main game is the Hammer of Dawn, it is available at one point in the game, but it's completely avoidable.

The rest is pretty much the same, and not in a bad way since everything still woks perfectly. The gameplay still revolves around taking cover and shooting enemies that will, most of the time, be at cover too. The system worked in the first one and it only gets better here. The perspective is still in third person and the controls are the same as the previous one. Graphically it's hard to notice any technical improvement, maybe the experience acquired in the last project allowed the team to better use the tools at hand, and resulting in a slightly better looking game. Even though it's hard to tell and will ultimately be a matter of opinion.

Gears of War 2 takes a safe ride, and it should be this way indeed since the game still delivers and the formula still seems and feels fresh. The gameplay and game mechanics continue the same with a few additions that won't pass unnoticed, and will help you enjoy this game as much as the first one without feeling ripped-off by an inconsistent sequel that doesn't bring anything new on the table or simply by not finding any more fun in it. Gears of War 2 is a great action game, and a welcome addition to an already amazing series that will surely bring many good surprises in the future.

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