Gears of War 2 - 360 - Review
The Xbox 360 is home to a great number of exclusive titles that make gamers glad they picked Microsoft’s console over Sony's or Nintendo’s consoles. Among the unforgettable exclusives, Gears of War was a game that was beautifully savage and loads of fun to the point that its influence is felt in the new crop of third-person shooters. If the first game was a real Must-Have for any Xbox 360 owner, Gears of War 2: Limited Edition is the game that will make the Xbox 360 this year’s real Must-Have console.
The first game introduced us to a world that has seen a war that ravaged the beautiful cities for years when, one fateful day, brutish creatures seem to rise from the ground to wipe humanity off the face of the planet. Heroes were born on what is now known as Emergence Day; among them is Marcus Fenix who was released from prison to join the battle. In the end, Marcus and his men managed to infiltrate an important underground point the Locust Horde called home.
Yet even after securing a major victory, the Locust Horde mobilized in a manner the COG and everyone in Sera weren’t expecting. Once again, Marcus and Dom find themselves back in the frontlines to push back against the legion of Locust. This time the human resistance means to take the fight to them as whispers of a Locust Queen are heard and revelations are made about the origins of the Horde. In the meantime, the battle is on and we follow Marcus to Jacinto where the fate of humanity lies.
Much like the first game, Gears of War 2 does not mess with the controls and many of the weapons from the first game make a return. If it isn’t broken, why fix it? This will be good news to returning Gears fans but also new gamers who are experiencing the game for the first time. The pick-up-and-play mechanics leaves room to concentrate on the battles and believe me you’ll be glad no real changes are made. You can still rush to cover, digging in on a hard surface in order to take cover from enemy gunfire. You can even swap weapons on the fly via the D-pad as well as slam your weapon into your opponent’s face. Oh yeah, they brought back all the cool weapons from the first game as well as introducing new assault rifles.
Oh, but things are also different from the first game as well. Creatures that had minor roles are now part of the starring lineup and the Horde attack in large numbers as well. New Locust also make an appearance, many of them will have you dropping your jaw. I’d be spoiling things if I mentioned a few of the big surprises the game throws at you but expect there to be more of everything and nasty new threats that will have you glad there are frequent checkpoints. You’ll be glad there’s enough firepower to help you push back the enemies that will - later in the game - come in great numbers.
On top of that, the chapters are longer and there’s no shortage of variety to keep the action fresh and exciting. You’ll be manning a chain gun aboard a floating transport in order to provide cover for other transports (including airships) and there are some great moments that highlight many of the other new features, such as mobile cover. Another new feature is introduced when the enemy manages to take you down. Oftentimes, when you go down, it doesn’t often mean you’re dead but rather wounded enough that you can crawl to safety to regain your health. You can also grab your enemy, use them as cover, and then execute them in some interesting new ways.
Part of what makes Gears of War 2 such a rich experience that rivals the original is that the action sequences is cleverly well paced. There’s also a far more involving story that fleshes out the characters in a more meaningful way. Dom’s desperation is heartfelt as he wonders about the fate of his missing wife and the mystery that is Marcus unravels a bit in this game as well. There are a few issues that do keep this game from being a perfect 10. For starters, the framerate does tend to stutter but it’s nothing that is too bad. Also, the cover system still isn’t quite as perfect at times but then again it’s not a major flaw that will get you killed.
Speaking of framerate issues, Gears of War 2 contains a rich and completely satisfying multiplayer option that does suffer from a dip in the framerate. Again, it’s nothing bad but it pops up now and then and it’s hard not to ignore. Still, this is a minor gripe compared to the fact that the online and offline multiplayer is a blast. Co-op play is back and you can play the game with a friend using a single console or online. The online multiplayer game contains eight game match types, each one unique and fun in its own way. Submission, for instance, is the game’s Capture the Flag mode where you have to secure a specific point in the map. Execution is a variation of Warzone where in order to kill your enemy you have to disable them first and then fire a shot into their skull before they revive themselves.
The Limited Edition version of the game includes exclusives for the multiplayer game such as the much-appreciated Flashback Map Pack that includes past favorite maps from the first Gears game. It also includes a download for the gold-plated Lancer assault rifle that, I must say, gives its user quite an advantage. Aside from coming with a steel case, the Limited Edition also has a bonus disc filled with behind-the-scenes extras and there’s a hardcover book with art. Is it worth the extra money for the bonus features? My wallet will have to stay thin because of my love for the online multiplayer extras that add more to the experience.
On the visual front, Gears of War 2 will not fail to astonish. It’s hard not to fall for a game that just pushes the limits of the Xbox 360 the way this game does and if you’re playing the game with an HD setup then you are in for a visual treat. Everything from the great character models, beautifully detailed backgrounds and gorgeous visual effects, this game will definitely make your retinas very happy.
Aside from the great visuals, there are some great sound effects to go along with them. It’s great to hear the wind howling through the remains of an old building and the metallic clink of empty bullet castings as they drop on concrete. The soundtrack, provided by Steve Jablonsky, is beautifully cinematic and will not fail to get your heart pumping in all the right places. Then there’s the voice acting that is still good.
Gears of War 2 will rock your world in ways that will make it hard to want to put down your controller. Yes, it’s bigger and yes, it’s better but isn’t that what a great sequel is suppose to be? In its Limited Edition package, gamers will get enough goodies to bring hardcore Gears fans tears and believe me when I say that I don’t often recommend the more expensive Limited Edition packages too often. In the end, we are left with a game that will be very hard to top but in the meantime, this is the game that will be spinning in my Xbox 360 for a long time to come.
|Review Scoring Details for Gears of War 2|
Like the first game, Gears of Wars 2 uses the familiar controller scheme that works beautifully in this sequel as well. The game manages to tell a great story once again while playing up the awesome action that often has you going up against hundreds of enemies. Welcome to the suck, soldier, you’ll be very glad to be back on these frontlines.
You know you’re playing a game made for high-definition the minute you see the opening cinematic and it’s hard not to be impressed with the game’s environments that are simply stunning. The character models still look damn good in action and the visual effects are downright impressive.
Once again, the voice acting is top-notch throughout the entire game and the music will keep your adrenalin pumping. On top of that, the sound effects are wonderfully detailed so make sure you play this game with a good sound system hooked up.
Fighting the Locust Horde isn’t easy even in the game’s medium difficulty setting so you’ll be glad the checkpoints are appropriately placed throughout. You’ll also find yourself in moments where good tactics will make the difference … especially around the Brumaks and the Skorge.
Bigger and better in just about every way, Gears of War 2 isn’t short on jaw-dropping moments or great new features. The Limited Edition version of the game comes packed with loads of goodies worth the extra dough such as the bonus DVD with interesting features, a cool hardcover art book and a steel DVD case. There’s more … this version also includes exclusive downloads for the online multiplayer mode such as the gold-plated Lancer assault rifle and the awesome Flashback Map Pack.
Some framerate issues blemish an otherwise smooth online multiplayer and co-op action. Up to 10 players can take each another on in eight different multiplayer game match types. The maps make these great modes even better and thanks to the Flashback Map Pack, you’ll also play through a few favorite maps from the first game.
Gears of Wars 2 is what epic masterpieces are made of and on top of that it raises the bar for all action games on the Xbox 360. It’s an over-the-top, action junkie’s dream come true that easily surpasses the much-loved original that still haunts the dreams of all Xbox owners. In other words, Gears of War 2 definitely should be on the very top of your Must Have list.