Review: Gears of War 2

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BODIES AS SHIELDS!!!

This won’t be a complete review because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. Like you, I’ve been waiting since I completed the first Gears of War, so instead, I’ll tell you what’s different. Cool?

But I can tell you that it’s everything I could have ever hoped and dreamed for. The reviews that came out earlier this week were spot-on with the scoring. It’s amazing, but there are a few things that are worth noting for the hardcore Gears fans.

I never, ever pay attention to the story the first time I play a game, so I won’t really get into it. However, I will say that Dom’s wife is a MILF and baby Gear Carmine has a gruesome death. He’s not as much of a pain in the ass as I thought he would be, though. He was a good soldier.

Tai (badass South Pacific warrior) and Dizzy (crazy cowboy) are some crazy mofos and a refreshing addition to the Gears cast. The “Cole Train” has one of the most badass intros I’ve seen from any game and/or movie. Baird also makes a return but not till much later in the game. BTW – you don’t ever want to get captured by the locust. They make you do some crazy shit. Tai knows, unfortunately.

I will say that the first 15 minutes of the game are the BOMB (f*cking awesome). I won’t giveaway the ending because that’d be a dick move and I want you guys to enjoy it as much as I did. I’m also fearful that Cliffy B will hunt me down and curb stomp me.

Anyway, remember the story I posted a few weeks back about how the gaming industry was sucking as much as Hollywood and how I thought that maybe there wasn’t any ingenuity left? Well, that’s kind of true, but let’s focus on what Ted Price from Insomniac said,

“The end result is usually a game that’s bigger, more polished and has more innovative features than the original game.”

And that’s just it; Gears 2 is a more polished and refined version of the original Gears. Some of the things I noticed are very subtle differences from the original and most of the changes are great while some annoy me just because.

The AI is much improved and the locusts don’t go down without a fight. They have the ability to revive each other, but so do you. However, the locusts have a new pal that can revive them when they’re near death (crawling) if he/she/it is somewhere within the battle sequence. So, to kill them you’re either going to have to shoot ‘em dead, curb stomp them or use them as meat shields. Going back to the curb stomping for a second. You either straddle said locusts and beat the crap out of them or you flip them over and stomp their brains out. Using them as meat shields when they’re semi-alive is AMAZING. But you’re stuck using a pistol, so it does have its drawbacks. They either die from absorbing all the gunfire or you snap their necks when you’re done using them.

My next point is super nitpicky but in the first Gears your Lancer Assault rifle aka chainsaw gun has a lot of kick to it, which makes it difficult to keep your aim on one target, but this time around it doesn’t have as much kick. The action is much smoother, but it’s easier to camp out and keep the locusts within your sights. Like I said, super nitpicky. Also, when you’re chainsawing an enemy you either saw from top to bottom or you go right into their gut and saw upwards. It’s pretty badass. Another thing worth noting is that when you chainsaw a box or thin membrane, you’re actually sawing through it this time whereas in the first one you just sort of stood there until things fell apart.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the vehicle levels in Gears 1 and I especially disliked the “kill the krill with a spotlight” level the most. The levels with vehicles in Gears 2, however, are way, way better and much more fun to drive/play. The Reaver ride reminds me of the Matrix and Return of the Jedi. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

Selecting which path you take is much more streamlined this go around. Instead of wasting precious seconds deciding which path to take you simply go that route without stopping gameplay. Thanks for that, Epic. Except the latter half of the game reverts back to the old way. Oh well.

So how’s the Unreal engine? The improvements seem pretty miniscule to me, but I wasn’t paying all that much attention to it. I recall Epic saying that they could bring on thousands of locusts at once, but you never ever come into contact with them when they do show up. It’s more for show. Epic kind of improved the cover system, but it’s more show than go as they say in the car world. Visually, cover begins to breakdown when you fire on your enemies, but it doesn’t actually go away. So, you can’t screw over the locusts by shooting up all their cover.

The graphics have been vastly improved and the new soundtrack by Steve Jablonsky is marginally better than the original. I have my makeshift gaming center (review on that later) rigged to my Razer speakers, so they’re almost at full capacity and it sounds fantastic.

Unfortunately I can’t comment on anything other than Solo Campaign so you may want to hit up the other gaming sites since they clearly had more than one copy and time to have a more extensive review. I can’t wait until my friends get GoW2 tomorrow. It’s going to be a fragtastic time. Nerdy, I know. I’ll have to warn the others about Tickers and Sires. I hate Tickers as much as I hate Wretches.

Epic has improved Gears 2 with subtle differences that make it standout from the original and a much better story (be it a sappy one that focuses on Dom…), but I have to say that everything about the game seems more refreshed and 10x better. Maybe it’s the fanboy in me, but any fan of the first game has to buy the sequel. In fact, go out to your local Gamestop or Best Buy or whoever that’s reopening at midnight tonight and take Friday off. I can’t wait for Gears 3 and whatever else Epic has in store for the Gears universe, but you can damn well be sure that it’s going to kick ass.

I don’t normally score games that I review other than a recommendation to buy or not, but I give Epic’s Gears of War 2 a 9/10. Why only a 9? Because Gears 3 will surely garner a perfect score with an improved Unreal engine and I want to piss off Cliffy B.

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