It goes without sayings that Gears of War 2 is a great game. Epic has taken Gears of War and improved every aspect that could have used some tweaking, added a whole pile of new enemies, weapons, game modes, and completely changed the landscape. At the same time, expanding Unreal Engine 3’s capabilities to allow for bigger and more brutal battles. Gears of War 2 steps it up a notch on every level, and just like its predecessor, will remain in my collection indefinitely.
Delta’s Back Baby, Whoo!
I fuckin’ love these guys! Gears of War introduced us to the bulky foursome that we quickly adopted as our new best friends. In Gears 2, the familiar and war-torn faces of Delta squad return, and I guarantee everyone who played the first game had a smile on their face when Cole made his triumphant entrance. This time, Delta are more closely connected to those they rely on and cross paths with along their journey. A couple characters from the first game that weren’t really developed are much more prevalent this time around, and a few new faces make an appearance as well. As you would expect, there are more than a few memorable one-liners that will make you laugh each and every time. “What do I look like, a fuckin’ botanist?”
In Gears of War, we got to know each character as a unique individual. This time around, character traits are reinforced and we see a more personal side of Delta. The main story is what you would expect from Gears – find a way to destroy the Locust. But along the way, you get side-tracked into some character driven arcs that are quite surprising. I was almost shocked at one scene and the emotion it invoked, which is easily one of the most memorable moments in recent games. Along with further developing characters and moving the main story along, we get some answers into the past as well. We learn more about the history of Sera and its people, and of course, the Locust infestation.
Speaking of which, yes, the Locust are back. This time, we see an absolute ton of variety in the enemy forces we’re pit against. From knee high creatures, to human sized, and of course the towering beasts that fill the entire screen. The big baddies that we caught a glimpse of in the first game are common place in the sequel. I lost count of how many Brumak’s I took down over the course of the campaign.
Genocide Never Looked and Sounded so Good
Gears of War set the bar (really damn high!) when it comes to graphics on a console. Not just the Xbox 360, but the current generation of game consoles. But as great as it looked, you could see the hardware struggling to churn out every detail. Not this time! It runs smooth as butter during cut-scenes and the most action packed battles. Speaking of which, battle sequences have gone from a 4 or 5 Locust affair, to dozens on screen at a time. Close quarter fire-fights can get pretty heated when you have a dozen Locust bearing down on you from all angles.
I can’t express how ecstatic I was to learn that Steve Jablonsky was doing the music for Gears 2. As much as I loved the original score, I knew Steve would do a great job, as the work he did for Transformers is one of my favourites. Sure enough, the music that accompanies the mayhem is just fantastic! There’s hints of the original themes in there, but it’s definitely much more full and varied this time around. I will definitely be picking up the soundtrack, which just so happens to be coming out tomorrow.
I was pleasantly surprised to find no frustratingly hard boss fight at the end of the game. I had assumed I would be jumping on YouTube to figure out how to take down Skorge (the new RAAM), but there was no need. While there is a couple tough encounters with him, they are by no means as difficult as the RAAM battle.
Change is a constant theme in Gears 2. Epic obviously didn’t want to recycle any sequences from the first game and did a great job of keeping things fresh this time around.
The New Multiplayer
The changes made to the multiplayer side of Gears 2 are more than welcome! If you had ever jumped online with the original game, you would know that it is quite a different experience from the single player, which has a heavy emphasis on using cover. Everyone seemed to adopt the same tactic, which was cheap, frustrating, and not at all what Epic had envisioned for online play. With the introduction of “stopping power”, the old roll + shotgun trick is no longer effective. You simply can’t charge head down into oncoming fire, as you’ll stumble, drop your weapon, and quickly get chewed to pieces.
Along with some tweaks to the good old multiplayer modes comes a co-op mode called Horde. It pits a squad of up to 5 players against wave-after-wave of increasingly difficult Locust. For me, this is where it’s at! I’m not a huge multiplayer gamer, and simply don’t have the time to invest in a game to really get good at it. With Horde, you’re fighting along-side your friends, working together to take down the onslaught of enemies. You have to use squad tactics and communicate constantly to ensure survival. It really is a lot of fun!
Never Any Doubt
It’s not often these days that you can buy a game without the slightest bit of doubt. This year, we’ve seen some of the biggest franchises fall, and hard! I never had any doubt that Gears 2 would be “bigger and more badass” (in the words of Cliff B.), and satisfy on every level. It did that, and then some. It really is an amazing accomplishment, especially considering it’s only been 2 years since the first game.