Late to the party: Gears of War 2

I don't have enough money to play all the games I want, due to having to eat food. I also like to have a roof over my head, and somewhere to plug in my PC and consoles. So I don't always get to play games when they come out. Which is why I am going to write a semi-regular feature called "Late to the party". As you probably already understood. Note, I do not promise I will write more of these, but I will try my best!

Anyway, I am starting off with a game I beat earlier today. Gears of War 2. And just to be clear, there will be blood spoilers.

Gears of War 2

Shoot everything!
Shoot everything!

I remember playing Gears of War when it first came out. I loved it, and I couldn't wait for more. I only played it for a few weeks after it came out, with some occasional co-op playing with my brothers the months after. Played one multiplayer deathmatch game or whatever, never touched that again. Not a fan of competitive multiplayer to be honest. And yet, when Gears of War 2 came out, I just couldn't muster the will to buy it. I can't recall what it was, maybe I had a lot of other games to play. But for some reason I did not buy it. Then it kinda felt silly to buy it a year later.

So when I watched the QL for Gears 3 last week my interest got rekindled. I promised myself that I would buy it if I found it for under 150 NOK. Luck will have it I found it for 100 NOK the next day. And so here I am., writing a blog about beating it. And I liked it.

As I said, I loved the first one. The feel of the combat, the grittiness, the blood and the feeling of "this is not going to end well". It all came back to me during my first hour with Gears 2. Let me break down a bit what I thought of it.

The graphics

Still looking damned good!
Still looking damned good!

Still looking good. The Unreal engine has it's own style in Epic games, and it really shines in this game. The architecture is great, Seran and Locust both. And if I am not mistaken there are a lot more nature in Gears 2 than there was in Gears 1. Vast areas with epic skyboxes. The caves are also everything from claustrophobic to grand caverns so large you cannot see the walls. I also still think the character models and facial animations are pretty good, at least they suit the voices of the main characters. You don't really need your heroes to be pretty looking to put it that way.

The sounds

While not as iconic as the Halo soundtrack, it still has its moments. I am trying to recall some of the music right now, and all I can hear is the "all enemies cleared" sound cue. I'm not saying the music is bad, far from it, but it is obviously not as memorable as other soundtracks, to me at least. The other sounds of the game however... man. The screams and curses of the Locust especially are really easy to remember. Weapons has the right amount of power behind them, and I really learned to fear the Tickers.

The story

You meet this lump of joy along the way.
You meet this lump of joy along the way.

I like the story. I had not read up on what happened in Gears 2 before playing it, but I knew a few things. I knew what happened to Maria, I knew there would be a third enemy (thanks to watching the Gears 3 QL) but that was about it. I am intrigued to see where things are going, what the deal was with the Sires, and why the hell the Queen is more or less human. I am happy to hear that Gears 3 offer closure in a good way, so I guess most of those questions will be answered eventually. But back to Gears 2. The story is as depressing as the first one, with humanity at the brink of annihilation. There is something I like about having a bunch of gruff heroes doing whatever they can to save humanity, even when doing so means sinking their final city into the earth. But hey, I am a sucker for drama.

The gameplay

Run over there, shoot some things. Run over here, shoot some more. You could probably sum up the gameplay this way. But man, you do some crazy shit along the way! I was expecting to drive some kind of vehicle, that is more or less required of any third-person shooter it seems. But semi-flying a Reaver? Piloting a Brumak? Riding an elevator sideways in a fallen-over building? Man, it's crazy!

The blood

Oh my...
Oh my...

I feel this need its own section. The blood and guts in Gears 2 is great. Sticking a Boomer with a Torque arrow in the gut, blowing him open to reveal his organs... brilliant. The few locations where I managed to blow up five or six Locust at the same time with a grenade was also damned satisfying. Limbs and guts raining around you while you roadie-run over to the next piece of cover. Just over the top enough to be kinda ridiculous, yet realistic enough to be kinda gross. Perfect balance anyway.


I kinda regret playing it now, as I really want to play Gears 3 right away. I enjoyed my run of it immensely, and I can recommend people to play through 1 and 2 before tackling 3. I played it on medium I guess, which means I didn't have much trouble with it. It all depends on what you want out of the game. Do you just want to get through it fast, mowing down Locust as you go? Go with easy. Do you want the feel of being vulnerable, having to use every piece of cover there is in order to survive? Go with harder difficulty. But that is always how difficulty work, why am I even writing this?

My point is, Gears of War 2 is still a great game. Huh, guess I could just have written that...