Gears of War 2 Review

I wrote this as a sample writing for an application to the site <a title=”” href=””></a>.  As such, it is not indicative of my typical writing style.  They had a strict 600 word limit, and absolutely denied the use of first person.  Oddly, they clearly state that they do not want opinion pieces, yet their Video and Online Games section is filled with reviews.

This review is, however, handy, and it should be a nice introduction for author and audience alike to how I intend reviews to work here.  Each post will have a Good and Bad bullet list, along with an recommendation on who should buy and who should rent the game.  Hopefully, this will satisfy in lieu of a numerical score, which I am loathe to hand out.  So here we go:

Fantastic set pieces in the campaign
Great overall package* and worthy (for most) of $60
Horde mode

Story is not quite as self-contained and satisfying as the original
The short game is still a nightmare when any sort of lag is involved.
The gameplay has evolved a bit, but anyone who did not like Gears 1 is going to dislike Gears 2 as well.


Buy:  Fans of the first one, stop-and-pop shooters, and most fans of shooters in general.
Rent:  Honestly, any 360 gamer who is not drastically opposed to violent games, shooters, or overly-macho-but-slightly-angsty sci-fi soldiers should give this one a spin in the drive.

Anyone who played 2006’s Gears of War will have no trouble picking up the sequel, but do not think that Gears of War 2 is a mere incremental release with new weapons and maps.  The story plays like a list of I-wish-I-could-have’s from the first game, the new weapons add plenty of spice to the solid combat, and the new multiplayer modes will keep you at the controller for hours.  Even with some lingering flaws left over from its predecessor, Gears 2 is one of the best experiences $60 can buy this year.

The campaign’s story digs a bit deeper into the war between the COGs of Sera and the mysterious Locust.  Gears 2 is the second step of an ongoing saga, so the story does not wrap up quite as cleanly as the last one, but it does contain enough twists that gamers will be eying the inevitable third entry hungrily, without making them feel cheated as Halo 2’s ending may have.  The campaign also plays host to some fantastic set-pieces and will surely light up the forums.

Whereas Gears 1 relegated huge beasts like Corpsers and Reavers to pseudo-boss battles, and only hinted at the mighty Brumak (not seen until the game was ported to the PC), Gears 2 throws these enemies at you regularly, and often more than one at a time.  Gone (for the better) are the Kryll and (for the worse) Berserkers, but the Horde themselves pick up the slack with much more diversity.  Enemies the size of Boomers, for example, now come in different varieties, including Grinders, who wield huge Mulcher cannons, hand cranks like old-school gatling guns.

The new weapons and gameplay mechanics, like meatshields and Lancer duels add some variety to the multiplayer game, but gamers looking to stick to what they know will find that gameplay is largely unchanged.  This does mean that issues that cropped in Gears 1 are still mostly present as well.  Host advantage has been reduced, but lag can still be frustrating, and the short game will still have newcomers scratching their heads and calling the Lancer chainsaw cheap.

While Gears 2 does introduce an interesting new mode where two sides fight to drag a Stranded character to their capture point (and the Stranded character is none too pleased with this), but the jewel of the new features is undoubtedly the Horde mode.  Here, gamers play cooperatively in groups up to five trying to survive progressively harder waves of Locust.  This mode is a blast to play, especially with coordinated teams, and you can expect to see elite players wearing their Hoard the Horde achievement (given for beating all 50 waves of Horde mode) like a badge of honor.

Gears 2 is not perfect.  Those who were turned off by the cover-centric gameplay will voice many of the same complaints here.  The do-it-all A button still feels a bit sticky, and despite the addition of some moving (and movable) cover, the game still encourages a turtle-style gameplay, rarely forcing players to rush or take chances.  That said, most gamers are going to find something they like here, and will keep liking it for a very long time.  Gears 2, like its predecessor, is one of those games you put on top of the 360 while you try something else, just to put it back in once that distraction is over.

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