The first Gears of War was an absolute blast to play and fans will be delighted to know that with new weapons, new enemies, and new moves, Gears of War 2 is even more fun.
The shooting mechanics are incredibly solid. Left trigger aims and right trigger fires, which are the standard shooter controls, and hitting the A button will cause your character to take cover against whatever he/it is next to. From cover, you can blind fire by simply pressing right trigger, or hold left trigger to pop your head out and aim. While the latter is more reliable, it's also a lot riskier.
People have complained that the A button does too much for its own good. Along with taking cover, you can also hold it to "roadie run", which is a ducking sprint maneuver, pull an evasive roll, and you'll also use it in a few context-sensitive roles. While this is a lot of functions for one button, it rarely posed a problem for me and I was able to hold my own, even on the higher difficulty levels.
One of the great features from Gears 1 that makes its return is the active reload. When you hit the right bumper, a reload meter will appear in the corner of the screen, depicting a marker moving across a line. If you simply let this go, the weapon will reload automatically. However, if you hit the right bumper a second time while the marker is over the small white area, you'll perform a perfect active reload, in which your character will reload much quicker than normal and your next clip will be more powerful. If you manage to catch the marker in the gray area, you will reload slightly faster than normal. However, if you attempt an active reload while the marker is in the black area, the gun will jam and it will take longer than normal to reload. Admittedly, it's a pretty complicated feature for a simple task like reloading, but when you're in the heat of battle and your blood is pumping, it feels empowering to nail a perfect active reload and hectic when you screw one up!
I can't say much without pushing my Gears of War 2 review into spoiler territory, but the new set pieces and vehicle segments add some variety to the fun, and with the exception of one tank segment that I find slightly boring, they all work pretty well. Mix these in with the great gameplay aspects carried over from the first game, such as the ability to complete the campaign co-op, and Gears of War 2 is some of the most fun that you'll have on the Xbox 360.