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Hulk rambles about Gears of War 2 a bit.

Hulk pretty bored while working today.  Hulk felt like rambling about Gears 2 but none of Hulk's Gearhead buddies are available right now.  So next best place for Hulk rambling is to blog.  Be forewarned, this post very long and have borderline wall o'text paragraphs.

For those that not know, Hulk was a very high level Gears 1 player back when Hulk played it a lot which was most of 06-07.  Hulk played a lot of good people and handled everyone.  Hulk's usual teammates all live too far away from each other that it would have been impractical for us to put together some kind of tournament team.  But if that would have been viable, we could have easily walked away with plenty of tournament money.  That along with all of the bugginess and lag in the Gears 1 multiplayer eventually drove Hulk and friends away from the game.

Now that Gears 2 is out we've never really been able to get everyone back together to really put some play time in.  On top of that some of the people we used to play with seem to just be too stubborn to adapt to Gears 2.   They got by in Gears 1 based on their wallbouncing shotgun skill, whereas in Gears 2 that isn't as viable.  It's more tactical and in a lot of ways more "noob friendly".  So instead of being a helpful teammate, they end up just running right out and getting chainsawed and then complaining when the smooth moves they were trying to pull off didn't beat the guy that just started playing and that just held down B and ran at them.   Hulk wishes they would learn to adapt, but due to real life stuff they really don't have the time to play as much and to develop the new skills.  Plus they're just stubborn assholes that enjoy pissing Hulk's friend off.  But that is another story.

Despite the lack of good amigos Hulk has still been able to enjoy the multiplayer a bit.  However it's really only fun for Hulk when playing with 4 other people that know how to play well and know how to play as a team.  Which is something Hulk rarely ever has available.  Under normal circumstances it's just Hulk and a friend as the two good players on the team, with three of our friends filling out the rest of the group all of which tend to suck or lack the ability to listen.  So we end up winning 2  and losing 1, or a ratio similar to that.  It's been very difficult to put together consecutive wins since the game is much more team based now and unlike Gears of War 1, one or two guys really can't consistently wipe out the opposing team without help.  So when we run into the teams of 5 decent players, we may be able to beat them all individually but since the game essentially boils down to 2 vs 5, we can't always get the wins.

However this all changed lastnight when we managed to group up with a couple of old friends, one of which brought along another friend that's good at the game and knows how to work as a team.  FINALLY, Hulk had his warbound again to help Hulk SMASH puny humans.  HULK SMASH SO MANY PUNY HUMANS lastnight.  It was glorious.  Perhaps best of all was the NXE allowing us to just group chat without having to listen to the shit talking from the opposing team.  Hulk was losing interest in Gears 2 until this session lastnight.  Now Hulk's desire to play has been renewed and hopefully we can get this team rolling all the time.

Just some random thoughts about various other new things and changes in Gears 2.....

Shotgun: The damage is fine, the rate of fire is fine.  This gun itself doesn't need to be changed.  Currently it is probably the weakest weapon in the game but that isn't because of the weapon itself.  It's due to the chainsaw currently being overpowered.  Nerf the chainsaw and the shotgun becomes a good weapon again.  It won't be great like in Gears 1, but it will be good.  Which is how every weapon should be.  Every good game has balance.  Just because the shotgun was considered overpowered in Gears 1, does not mean they should now make it shitty.  The shotgun shouldn't be "punished" for being good in the first game.  The game just needs to be balanced in a way that the shotgun is now just a "good" weapon instead of a "great" weapon.  But as is it is a "shitty" weapon that is only used for clean up when enemies are already down or if someone is engaged in a chainsaw duel.

Chainsaw: Let's be clear, Hulk doesn't whine about the chainsaw like most do.  Hulk rarely even dies to it now that Hulk understands how it works.  However with the way the chainsaw is currently setup in Gears 2, it takes away balance from the game.  To fix this, just return it to the Gears 1 days of when someone is shot while revving it, they will get stunned.  Problem solved.  No other changes needed.  For the most part this will almost completely balance the game in Hulk's opinion.  Every weapon in the game will then be balanced, and it will make the game require more skill again to get kills.  CliffyB often stresses in interviews how he wanted players to have to flank around and earn their close range kills instead of rolling at someone with the shotgun.  But in their attempt to solve this they just unleashed an even worse, less skillful monster.  Players no longer have to skillfully maneuver around their opponents and have solid aim with the shotgun, accounting for bullet lag and such.  Instead they just walk directly at their opponent while holding down the B button to suck them in for a chainsaw kill all the while soaking up bullet after bullet.  Take away the overpowered chainsaw aspect and people may actually have to start staying behind cover and shooting with the lancer.  What a novel idea that would be.

Planting Smoke/Frag/Ink grenades:  Hulk likes this idea, however there are a few minor flaws in the execution of this.  For starters, if you see it on the wall it shouldn't take more than 1-2 shots to detonate it.  However currently it can take close to half a clip to detonate one.  That's just annoying really.  Also with the current setup a player can plant frag grenades on certain areas of a corridor where their opponent has no chance of being able to shoot them.  This can effectively cause ridiculous stalemates where one player won't leave and the other can't enter.  An easy solution is to slow the detonation down.  Currently as soon as you are near it, boom it detonates and there is really no escape.  While what they should have done is given the player a chance to roll away as soon as they hear the beep to escape the explosion.  Or at least figured out some sort of system similar to COD4 where you can set off the mine but still have time to step away from the blast radius.

Smoke grenade stun:  In Hulk's opinion it's a good idea, but again just needs tweaks.  The blast radius for it should be reduced significantly.  For it to hit someone they should have to be right on top of it or quite close.  There are far too many times where a player is very far from it but still gets caught up in it.  This can often be attributed to lag, but it's still something that shouldn't happen and reducing the range would only help to remedy this.  There are also too many issues with the ragdoll physics causing players to stay down for much longer than they should be, particularly when on some sort of an incline like stairs.   Also there are cases where the smoke explosion will catch someone just right and make them fly into the air, often into areas they shouldn't have been able to access.  All of this too can be solved just by changing the stunned effect from them flailing around on the ground, to them still standing but just grabbing their head similar to the frag stun effect from Gears 1, or the current teammate stun effect caused by the mortar.  The smoke grenades are the major reason that King of the Hill is probably the least fun of all the modes.  These tweaks could make it a little more bareable.

Flamethrower: Awesome.  More people should make this a priority weapon to obtain.  Hulk has noticed that most people tend to overlook it and don't really consider it to be on the same level as a boomshot or hammer of dawn.  These people are very, very wrong.  Obtaining this in Wingman almost always insures a win.

Boltok Pistol (Revolver):  Extremely underrated and rarely used online.  Active reload and it fires very quickly, downs people very fast.  Shouldn't be overlooked.

Weapons spawn cycle:  This is a good idea, however there are some problems with the implementation.  For example:  On the map "Day One".   The COG team always gets the torque bow and hammer of dawn spawns.  Whereas the Locust team get the mortar and sniper rifle spawns.  On this map most players know how to avoid the mortar by now, and the sniper rifle has been severely toned down so it's not a major threat weapon anymore.  However the hammer of dawn and the torque bow are two very dominant weapons on this map and with the way the weapons cycle, one team will always have one of them while the other will not.  This isn't exactly balanced.  A similar example can be found on the map Subway.  One team (not sure which, but it's probably COG) will have the torque bow spawn at the bottom when they spawn bottom, and a torque bow spawn at the top when they spawn at the top.  Whereas the other team gets a sniper rifle when they spawn top, and the mulcher (chaingun) when they spawn bottom.  The mulcher is a nice weapon, but not for this map, particularly where it's placed at the bottom.  The lack of mobility is a huge hinderance and really makes it not worth picking up.  Especially since the other team will likely have a torque bow and a slow moving mulcher user is an easy target.  Hulk hasn't had a chance to test it much yet to see if the first spawn is always the same or if it's randomized at the beginning.  But so far it does seem like it's the same every time, and the COG will get the better weapon spawns every game.

Most of the things Hulk has mentioned probably seem like rants.  But don't take this as Hulk bashing the game.  It's just easier to list the few "gripes" that could use some changes rather than list the hundreds of things that they did right with the game.  This blog post was far too long as it is.