Xbox 360 Review: Gears of War 2

Bigger, better and more bad ass than the first Gears? You better believe it

The first Gears of War was nothing short of brilliant. It was fresh, it looked amazing, it gave birth to the cover system and had some of the best enemies ever conceived in a videogame. The sequel has been hyped up to be bigger than the sequel, making a longer campaign and improved multiplayer, I can gladly say that Epic has met those goals with Gears of War 2.

The story follows on 6 months after the Lightmass bomb went off at the end of Gears 1. The Locust are back and have brought a force with them that can sink entire cities. The city of Jacinto is the only human civilisation left and the Locust are trying to sink that too. That’s about as much as I’d like to reveal, although Dom does has a mission of his own, to find his wife Maria. I won’t spoil what happens, just prepare for a few unexpected twists and turns.

Gameplay remains the same, although controls have been refined more and weapons have a more satisfying feel to them. Locust enemies from the original return and some new ones like the tickers and grinders add variety to the standard enemies. Boss battles are rare, but fun. I do wonder though why the Berserker and Kryll are MIA in Gears 2. You’ll see plenty of Brumaks and Corpsers, although you’ll only really fight a few of them. There are more vehicle sections in Gears 2, but they don’t handle all that well, making it the more disappointing part of the campaign.

There are a total of 15 weapons in Gears 2, some variations of Human and Locust weapons. My personal favourite is probably the flamethrower, although you can’t beat the trusty Lancer. Chainsaw Duels add tension to the mix, although I only came across one in the campaign in a boss battle, I somehow avoided them throughout the rest. But rest assured, it’ll happen a bit in multiplayer.

The campaign itself is definitely longer than the first, how much longer? Well not much, although 4 difficulties and 41 collectables add a bit more replay value to the package. Then there’s the multiplayer itself which has the standard deathmatch modes, Meatflag (a variation of CTF) and of course, Horde. If you have been living under a rock, Horde is a mode where you and a group of friends tackle wave after wave of Locust enemies. It can get pretty tough as you all have to work together to survive but if you all die, it’s over. Its great fun and I suggest everyone tries it.

In both single and multiplayer, you can unleash a series of killing styles like decapitating an enemy with a sniper rifle, punching them to death and even the traditional curb stomp. You can also grab enemies who are close to death and hold them up in what is known as the Meat Shield, you can use them for cover and break their necks when they’ve outlived their usefulness.

Visually, the game looks simply amazing and load times are very short (especially if you save the game to your HDD with the NXE) Voice-acting is solid, even if a bit OTT at times. The soundtrack is superb as are all the usual noises, explosions, chainsaws, grunts, vehicles and so on. I can’t fault the audio if I tried.

The Verdict

Gears of War 2 is definitely bigger, better and more bad ass than the first game. It knocks it up a considerable notch, although the vehicle sections do let the campaign down somewhat, it’s still a solid game and a brilliant sequel. Go and chainsaw duel some Locusts!