Lead designer Cliff Bleszinski said months ago that Gears of War 2 was going to be “bigger, better, and more badass”, and now that we have spent some time with it we have to agree with him. This is a bigger and better game in every single aspect. The campaign feels more epic and is filled with jaw dropping moments. The multiplayer has been beefed up with new modes, and the addition of Horde mode as well as a training mode means that Gears 2 has plenty to offer both on and offline. This is simply a great game.
- Title: Gears of War 2
- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: Epic Games
- ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
- Genre: Shooter
- Pros: Great graphics and sound; Horde mode; co-op; training mode; same fun gameplay we love
- Cons: Vehicle sections
Features and Modes The story continues six months after the end of the first Gears of War. Despite setting off the lightmass bomb and putting a serious hurting on them at the end of the first game, the Locust have steadily been chipping away at the human defenses and the last city of Jacinto is on the verge of being taken. It is up to Marcus Fenix, Dominic Santiago, and Delta Squad to try and stop them.
The campaign is better than the first game, for the most part, and definitely ups the ante by giving you big weapons and big enemies to use them on fairly early on. Once again, you can play through in co-op mode, and in a great touch, each player can have a different difficulty level. The only downside is the occasional vehicle mode where you are just along for the ride or get sometimes get to drive, which just aren’t nearly as fun as the normal shooting gameplay.
Multiplayer has been given special attention with several new modes and maps. The player count has also been upped from 8 to 10. The coolest new mode is a capture the flag variant where the “flag” is a civilian armed with a pistol that will shoot anyone that comes close. It isn’t uncommon for the “flag” to have the most kills in a session, which is awesome.
Other additions include a training mode where you can play multiplayer matches against bots in order to learn how to play the game before heading online. The bots actually put up a pretty good fight, though, and training mode is pretty darn fun all on its own. The biggest new mode addition is called Horde mode. In Horde mode, up to five players team up to fight wave after wave of CPU controlled enemies. It combines the best parts of multiplayer with the teamwork of playing co-op in order to create one of the coolest and most satisfying modes to come along in a long time.
For the most part, the gameplay is the same as before. There are some definite improvements, but the stop and pop gameplay hasn’t been changed too much. It is still all about using cover, being accurate with your reloads so they go as fast as possible, and generally trying to think through strategies rather than running and gunning through every gunfight. And it is still all about making a bloody mess out of your enemies, which is just plain satisfying. New weapons include a flamethrower, mortar, and chaingun, as well as the ability to set traps by attaching grenades to walls among other new toys. The core gameplay of Gears of War is simply some of the most satisfying shooting on the market, and Gears of War 2 feels just a little tighter and more polished and better overall.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically, there are few console games that can match up with Gears of War 2 in terms of visuals. It isn’t as amazing and Earth shattering as the first Gears was when you first saw it two years ago, but that has more to do with the fact we’re all used to it rather than it not being impressive. New eye candy includes crumbling cover, better lighting, and better animation. The framerate is also rock solid throughout. One disappointment is that the different filters that were available for the visuals in the first game aren’t available this time around. It sure would have been nice to kick up the color a bit with the “Vivid” setting instead of the sea of gray and brown that the game normally is. It is generally more colorful than the first Gears, though, so no real complaints here.
The sound is also very good. Great music. Great sound effects. And generally great voice acting. It is pretty much all good.
Gears of War 2 is pretty much the perfect sequel to a game that was already very good. It packs a better campaign, retains the same great co-op play, introduces new multiplayer modes and maps, and fills content gaps with the Horde and training modes to create a game that will truly keep you busy for a long time to come whether you plan to play online a lot or not. There is just so much to see and do and it is all executed at such a high level that it is very hard not to be impressed with Gears of War 2. Everything is bigger and better than before, and Gears of War 2 is one of the absolute best Xbox 360 games on the market and we highly recommend it for a purchase.