Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2 includes all of the original game's strengths, includes new gameplay elements and dials up the action to 11 for good measure. The end result is a game that has to be experienced firsthand if you really want to know how great it is

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Gears of War 2
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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  December 2, 2008

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Key Specs

Number of players: 1-2
Online play: Y
Price: $73

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The original Gears of War (GOW) was one of the Xbox 360’s launch titles and thanks to its superb audio, awesome graphics and action-packed, fun and addictive gameplay, it quickly became a hit. Two years on its sequel, Gears of War 2 (GOW2), includes all of the above but also includes some new gameplay elements and dials up the action to 11 for good measure. The end result is a game that has to be experienced firsthand if you really want to know how great it is.

The game’s campaign kicks off six months after the detonation of the Lightmass Bomb at the end of the first game. The bomb destroyed most of the Locust Horde but, unfortunately for humanity, the bomb also vapourised tons of the underground liquid Imulsion, which resulted in the spread of a fatal disease, known as ‘rustlung’, throughout the already diminished human population. On top of that, the Locust Horde has stepped up its attacks and is now sinking entire cities. Even the once impenetrable city of Jacinto is being threatened which prompts the COG to make a last stand, by taking the fight to the Locust.

Players once again taken on the role of Marcus Fenix who along with the rest of Delta Squad are being sent underground via ‘Grindlifts’, to attack the home of the Locust, known as the Hollow. Other returning characters from the first game include Dominic ‘Dom’ Santiago, Damon Baird, Augustus Cole and others.

The original GOW didn’t give very much background information on the game’s characters or on the Gears of War universe and unfortunately it’s more or less the same story with the sequel. While GOW2 does fill in some of the blanks and sheds some light on some of the characters, as well as the war with the Locust, it ultimately leaves yet more questions unanswered. Could this possibly hint that a third Gears of War game is in the pipeline? This reviewer certainly hopes so.

As far as gameplay is concerned, GOW2 sticks to the same formula as the original though there are tweaks, which make for much better overall gaming experience. The cover system has been jigged so you can move along surfaces more accurately, the weapons are slightly improved making them more balanced (and fun) and, the revival system too, has been tinkered with. Whereas before, if you took one too many shots, you’d collapse in a bloody mess on the floor and would have to wait for a teammate to revive you, GOW2 allows you to crawl towards teammates (or safety) by mashing on the controller’s ‘A’ button. Overall GOW2 feels like more of a refinement than a revolution but the team wasn’t too concerned with this because this game is an absolute blast to play.

One area in which GOW2 differs from its predecessor noticeably is in terms of environments and scale. Whereas the original never really made you feel small in the game world, GOW2 will expose you to massive outdoor spaces and, since you’re going underground, caverns large enough to swallow entire cities. The first time you venture underground and get a view of just how massive the Locust’s stomping grounds are, you’ll no doubt feel chill running down your spine. Moreover, by the time you’re done, you’ll have come face-to-face with massive monsters (level bosses) that can only be killed from within and you’ll have had to kill multiple Corpsers and Brumaks and much, much more. (The first game only exposed you to one Corsper and, if you played the PC version of GOW, just one Brumak.)

Thankfully, GOW2 has a kick-butt array of weapons that Marcus and crew can call upon which when coupled with the new gameplay tweaks, makes the game fun and challenging without being frustrating. The assault-rifle is still the weapon of choice for most of the campaign though you’ll also come across a flamethrower, a high-calibre chain gun, mortar weapon and of course, making a return appearance from the original, the Hammer of Dawn super-weapon.

All-in-all the campaign can be completed in about 12 hours on the normal difficulty setting and it’s a heck of a ride from the get-go. The game’s audio and graphics are faultless and in the end, GOW2 only has one real short shortcoming in the form of its annoying driving controls. Driving the Centaur tank, we found the controls were clumsy and got us killed a few times in certain parts of the driving segment of the game. Ultimately, this driving sequence makes up just a tiny portion of the game, so GOW2 is worth your un-divided attention.

For: Action, action, action. Once you start playing Gears of War 2, the action never lets up until you complete the campaign; it will blow your mind.
Verdict:If there’s only one game you can buy over the holiday season, Gears of War 2 has to be it. It’s easily one of the best game titles of all time.

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