Gears of War 2 Review - Welcome Back to Sera

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Welcome Back, Cogs

At the end of the first Gears of War, Marcus Fenix, Dom, Baird, and Cole traveled deep underground to detonate a lightmass bomb in the middle of a Locust hive, in hopes that it would eradicate their enemies forever.

They were wrong. The Locust survived and their more of a threat than ever.

The Locust have been sinking cities all over the planet Sera. Jacinto, the planet’s last bastion of hope, is now under threat. The fate of humanity rests on the shoulders of Delta Squad.

Sit back and prepare yourself for my Gears of War 2 review.

Gameplay (5 out of 5)

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.

Graphics (4 out of 5)

When Gears of War hit in late 2006, it set a new benchmark for graphics on the Xbox 360. While Gears of War 2 may not have as much of impact, that’s more of a statement on how fantastic games look now than it is a bash on the visuals of Gears 2. Overall, the game looks phenomenal. The set pieces are absolutely breathtaking and, aside from a semi-redundant underground level, the level design is great. The characters and textures look good and, unlike a lot of games, don’t absolutely fall apart under close scrutiny.

Multiplayer (5 out of 5)

While Halo 3 and the Call of Duty franchise are locked in a neverevending battle for the top spot on Xbox Live, I feel that the Gears of War 2 multiplayer isn’t getting the love it deserves. While both of those games may provide more robust multiplayer features, the sheer fun of Gears of War 2 multiplayer absolutely commands attention. Nevermind the awesome versus with over half a dozen game modes, the game also features horde mode, where you and up to four friends take on wave after wave of Locust hordes. Each wave is tougher than the previous and there are fifty waves in all, making completing horde mode an absolutely epic undertaking.

Overall (5 out of 5)

Gears of War 2 is a must-own title for the Xbox 360 and that isn’t something I throw out easily. The campaign is a deep and engrossing and one of the best co-op experiences around. The Gears of War 2 multiplayer is some of the best around and is even good enough to give Call of Duty and Halo each a run for their money. If you haven’t picked up Gears of War 2 and are reluctant to do so, you can probably pick up the first Gears of War on the cheap. I can guarantee you that it’ll wet your appetite for more.