Despite it's problems, the power of Gears can't be denied
Two years have passed since we first witnessed the emergence of the Locust Horde on Sera and fans have been clamoring for more ever since. It’s no surprise a game with such insurmountable success would get a further installment with such high expectations. Surely Cliffy B’s constant interviewing and Epic’s stellar track record mean the game is tantamount to success. Right?
Just like any sequel before it, Gears of War 2 builds upon the story laid out from its predecessor, which isn’t much. The Gears launched what was thought to be a successful attack against the Locust only to now find out that it didn’t stop them. Instead the Locust are now focusing their attacks on Jacinto, humanity’s last safe haven. In retaliation, the humans opt to take the offensive and bring the fight into Locust territory deep within the Hollow and perhaps locate the source that’s been sinking their cities.
Much like the first, Gears 2 tells its story laconically. Its mysterious fashion and anti-climactic revealing process lead its fans into conversing about what turns the story will lead to next, who the Locust really are, etc. Complementing this, the story accompanying Dom and his incessant search for his wife Maria is extremely emotional and well played. Unfortunately the lack of complete information makes the story feel rather empty and will leave you scratching your head when the credits roll.
One of the biggest highlights is the updated Unreal 3 Engine which has significantly boosted the quality of the campaign. The visuals are unparalleled with incredible detail riddled all throughout the dilapidated cities and vast expanses of the Locust underground. All of which are just a few locations you’ll visit compared to the look-alike environments from the first. The environments themselves are gigantic and loads of Locust and their angry creatures can all fit on the same screen at once. Cooperative play also returns and remains the definitive way to experience the campaign, especially on Insane.
Of course, the most popular feature of Gears has always been the multiplayer and it also has received a makeover. Matchmaking has seen an overhaul and now functions much like Halo 3. People can vote on a map, gametype, select their character, and a Lancer or Hammerburst as their starting weapon. The game also keeps track of all your stats and sports a simple ranking system along with bots for online/offline play. New weapons have also been introduced along with completely new and unique executions, some specific to certain weapons. New game modes include Wingman which pits you in a 2v2v2v2v2 match and Horde. Horde itself is a survival game where five-players cooperatively try to make it against 50 waves of increasingly tough Locust. It’s just amazing how the multiplayer component can be so enticing yet so broken.
Epic’s slogan “Bigger, better, and more badass” as cliché as it sounds is actually effective at describing the game. Not only for the positive features but for the issues bundled with it. When the game launched it was practically impossible to find a game with less than a full room. The stats that are recorded are meaningless as the host can dump the room by quitting or the opposing team can quit with no repercussions whatsoever. Lag can be absolutely atrocious at times, but perhaps the worst fault is the shotgun. Firing from the hip makes the bullets hit the ground right in front of you unless of course you or someone near you is the host. Old glitches like the weapon slide also make an appearance and completely break the strategic values of the game. Fixes have been made but the scars will never fade.
Gears of War 2 is a fantastic game well worth the purchase. Its replayability is that of the top tier shooters and the campaign is well-crafted. The multiplayer has issues that should have been taken care of but when it’s working properly you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more addictive experience. In all of this one thing is for certain; Epic’s track record for creating highly addictive yet complexingly faulty material is now truly apparent.