By brukaoru 20 Comments
A big thanks to everyone who let me participate in the Bombing Run, which allowed me to get footage for my video!
Text Version of Review:
Gears of War 2
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
1-2 Players in campaign, number varies in multi-player modes.
ESRB Rating: M for Mature, recommended for ages 17 or older.
It's been six months since the events that took place in Gears of War, with the lightmass bomb destroying many locust forces. However, the many locusts who survived have come back stronger than ever, and have begun sinking entire cities. Jacinto, the only safe haven left on planet Sera, is now endanger of being destroyed.
In this third person shooter sequel, the core gameplay has been retained with improvements and the inclusion of additional features. Along with Casual, Hardcore and Insane difficulty, a new difficulty entitled "Normal" is also included, which seems to be for players who want something more difficult than Casual but not as intense as Hardcore. Players once again take on the role of Marcus Fenix, or Dominic Santiago in co-op. The artificial intelligence has been enhanced and offers a much more challenging experience for players. Team mates are much more helpful than they were in the first game and the locust horde seems to be as tough as ever. Players can still hold on to four different weapons at any given time. Life is the same, with the crimson omen filling as players take more damage. The active reload system is still in place, where a perfect reload timing will give players a boost in the damage they can inflict.
New abilities include using downed enemies as meat shields, performing executions and crawling. Using a meat shield will protect players from oncoming fire. Performing executions allows characters to kill a downed enemy with their fists or bash their heads in by making one of their weapons serve as a baseball bat. Both teammates and enemies can now crawl to seek someone to revive them, which helps players avoid enemy fire when trying to revive a teammate.
There are a number of new weapons, such as the flamethrower and the mortar. Additionally, the returning weapons have been upgraded to deliver more impact. If two characters are revving their chainsaws at the same time and come into contact, a chainsaw duel will take place and requires players to tap the B button rapidly in order to win. Gears 2 features new types of enemies and much larger scale battles. There are only a few breaks in between intense combat, however the game will frequently save automatically after almost every battle, so dying at an area doesn't feel too frustrating.
The vehicle that players will have to navigate at some point in the game has the ability to shoot and drive at the same time, unlike the Junker in the first game. The controls for the vehicle are pretty easy to adjust to, the left analog stick moves the vehicle and right analog stick is used to change directions. Players can also use short boosts to move quickly. The health of the vehicle is similar to the characters, if the vehicle takes damage and players can avoid any further damage, team member Baird will be able to repair it.
The story line is much more in depth compared to the first game. There's more background information presented this time, diary entries found with COG tags and other interesting collectibles throughout the game give more insight to past and current events within the Gears universe which really helps flesh out the story. Players may be surprised when they see the dramatic twists that take place.
The same voice actors reprise their roles for their characters in the sequel, and keep with the spirit of saying witty dialogue. The sound effects, even for the returning weapons, have been enhanced and sound more momentous. Many fans did not find the music in the first game to be very memorable, but a new composer, Steve Jablonsky, (who is known for his work in The Transformer movie), gives the sequel a different arrangement of orchestra sounds, and a much better tone for the dramatic sequences that take place.
Even though Gears of War was one of the best looking games when it released, it wasn't very colorful. Gears 2 takes a more colorful palette, with more details in the environment, using much warmer colors as opposed to the gray hues in the first game. Character models are also more detailed. Still keeping the same gore factor in place, blood will still spatter across the screen when taking damage, body parts will fly if hit by a frag grenade or turret, and heads will spew blood when shot off.
Co-op returns in Gears 2, allowing two players to tackle the main campaign together over Xbox Live or, if on the same console, in split screen. Multiplayer modes that return in Gears 2 are Warzone, Execution, Annex, and Guardian (formerly known as Assassination). In Warzone, a COG team is up against a Locust team. The goal is to simply eliminate all members of the other team. If killed, players have to wait until the next round before they can play again. Execution is almost identical to Warzone, except players will automatically revive if killed. Annex has players win by controlling a fixed capture location long enough to collect points, the first team to reach the target score wins the round. Guardian has one player from each team selected to act as a leader, whose goal is to stay alive for as long as possible. If the leader dies, the team loses the ability to respawn.
Some additions to multi-player include Horde, Wingman, Submission and King of the Hill. Horde Mode is cooperative, where up to five players can band together to take on fifty waves of locusts. The difficulty will steadily increase which can make it a challenging run through even on the easiest settings. In Wingman, up to five two-player teams can compete against each other until one team reaches a set amount of points. Submission is "capture the flag" with a twist. The "flag" happens to be a Stranded character who is armed and dangerous. Teams have to capture the "flag" and hold him there for a set amount of time to win the round. King of the Hill has players control a fixed location and retain control long enough to collect a number of points, with only one location per round.
Anyone who was a fan of the first game shouldn't be disappointed by the sequel. While keeping the core gameplay the same, the sequel adds many enhancements and features that refine it that make it even better. A more in depth story line helps to answer questions posed by the first game and also gives insight to the main protagonists. New multiplayer modes add tons of replay value. Not to mention better graphics and some battles being grand in scale, this sequel definitely delivers.