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Gears of War 2 review

November 11, 2008

“Bigger, better, and more badass” said Cliffy B when he announced this sequel, and sure enough it is bigger, better, and more badass than the first game but it’s also familiar, pretentious, and occasionally ropey.

Don’t hit send on that hate mail just yet though because it’s only really bad on about three occasions in the campaign, and it’s only really bad because for the rest of the time it’s really, really good.

The lightmass bomb deployed in Gears of War has failed and the snarling locust hordes are back, complete with new creatures they didn’t see fit to use before while resigning others. The story tries to be epic but is often too big for its chunky boots; attempting to mix emotional anguish with testosterone fuelled carnage is admirable but comes off forced. Meanwhile locations and events fit like a jigsaw, events happen conveniently where you find yourself and you can forget about the bigger war happening around you.

But toiling on story details is pointless as the game mechanics are fantastic; the trademark cover mechanic works perfectly while new weapons and manoeuvres such as using downed enemies as meat shields gel seamlessly into the gameplay, making skirmishes in Gears 2 far more gritty and intimate than the first game.

However the multiplayer is the real meat of the experience, featuring a two player campaign, five player co-op against fifty waves of enemies, and a plethora of competitive game modes for up to ten players. Ignoring the long wait it takes to start a match, Gears 2 plays a better multiplayer than the first game in that it’s no longer an invitation to the shotgun party.

Despite some poor design choices, possibly attributed to a tight development schedule, Gears 2 triumphs as a fantastic game which doesn’t mess with the formula, but polishes its unique stop and pop mechanics until they shine.

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