Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) Review

Summary [9.5 out of 10]

Gears of War 2 is not just a “bigger and badder” version of the original Gears of War… it’s a better Gears of War. Everything that was good, is now Great. Everything that might have been an lame or annoying is gone and to put icing on all of this, there are many intriguing story hooks and excellent monster design to make you go “WOW!” many many times.

The Great

  • Gorier: Headshots are a bit easier, chainsaws don’t lower when hit and grenade tagging is awesome.
  • Bigger: Huge indoor and outdoor levels covering everything from vast caverns inside mountains to huge open forest expanses with large-scale battles.
  • Friendly AI can revive downed players now, it’s not an instant fail if you are split up and go down.
  • Worm… that’s all I need to say. It was frigging awesome.
  • Fish Boss: Of all the “boss fights”, the Fish Boss was by far the best. Every person I played it with went “HOLY SHIT!” the first time they saw it. (Below is a pic of some other one so as not to ruin the surprise)
  • Tweaked cover system is completely non-intrusive. You don’t notice any tweaks to it, but it also never does what you don’t want it to… I don’t know how hard this was to do, but CliffyB was quoted at saying the cover system saw something like 300 modifications between Gears 1 and 2.

The Good

  • Campaign is a great length (about 10hrs) and looks great.
  • Story: Engrossing Lost-esque confusing hooks to the story that really make you sit up and go “Wait… what?! I’m confused, but this is also awesome…”. Unfortunately, nothing is answered by the end, all loose ends are left loose… but the journey is enjoyable enough that you don’t mind.
  • New heavy-weapon types are picked up as a 5th weapon and don’t replace one of your existing 4. Also the new weapon types are fun to use (mulcher FTW).
  • Death-progress indicator for downed players (to see how much time you have to get to them).
  • New multiplayer modes are really fun.  Wingman and Submission are some of the most fun I’ve had playing multiplayer in months.
  • Horde mode! (Up to 5-player co-op against wave-after-wave of locust)

The Bad

  • Driving level in the campaign.  At least this time you can drive and shoot, but driving over the ice lakes is really annoying and can lead to a lot of retries.
  • Flying level in the campaign is not polished has poor controls and both times are so long you are confused if you are suppose to be doing anything, or just living long enough to get to the next cutscene.
  • The new machine-gun-pistol is lame only because of the long delay between bursts. If that delay was cut in half, I would be perfectly happy with it.
  • The flame thrower doesn’t look like it fires liquidy napalm/fuel. It has more of a “orange smoke” look to it which was fairly disappointing. In my mind games nailed the flame thrower from Enemy Territory and beyond; this was a step back.
  • The shotgun doesn’t gib locust in Casual mode like it did in Gears 1… I miss that gut-exploding power.
  • Multiplayer lobby options – No option to ready up so host has no way to know if everyone is ready, No way to retain teams between rounds even in private matches, & No way to set a room to invite only.
  • Voice chat between rounds of a match does not let dead players talk to their loving teammates.  Shouldn’t we be able to congratulate them for winning/surviving?
  • The final boss fight is weak. Raam was a epic battle at the end of Gears 1, but the final boss in Gears 2 was a cake walk.

Conclusion [9.5 out of 10]

If you liked Gears, you’ll probably really like Gears 2. If you loved Gears, you’ll crap your pants with Gears 2 because it’s the same thing but polished way up.

Gears of War 2 won’t convert anyone that didn’t like the first title, but it’s exactly what any sequel should be (but rarely is): a badass improvement over the first one.

I can say at the end of Gears 2, I am genuinely interested in seeing where the story goes in Gears 3, which is not normally what one thinks of from a shooter.

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