Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gears of War 2 Review

Back in the day, the original Halo was the game that helped sell the Xbox. And the original Gears of War has been called "the 360's Halo." And although I never really got into Gear of War's multiplayer the way I did with the original Halo, Gears of War was a great game that I actually played twice... once single player, once co-op.

Now, the thing about Halo was that I actually didn't like Halo 2, and I liked Halo 3 even less. So there was some concern going into Gears of War 2 about the "Halo effect," that had me wondering if I'd even like Gears of War 2. In fact, I'd even decided not to buy it for that reason.

But a friend of mine did buy it and promptly beat it, and since he's not on Xbox Live he brought it over for me to play. A few rounds of Horde got me back into the "fire-from-cover" style of Gears of War, so I decided to borrow it and play through the campaign.

I can safely say the Halo Effect doesn't apply to Gears of War. In fact, Gears of War 2 is a major improvement on the original. Everything that was good about the first one still applies. You still have cover to hide behind. You still have hordes of enemies to kill. Late in the game, you'll still get to waste enemies with the Hammer of Dawn. Cole is still unintentionally (or maybe intentionally on the developers' parts?) funny. And most importantly, you still have a gun with a freaking chainsaw on it. Oh, and the one truly bad thing about the first one, the Kryll, are gone. Not a Kryll in sight.

What elevates Gears of War 2 is that it's not a game that's content to rest on its laurels. The good stuff's still there, the bad stuff's gone, PLUS improvements were made. Level design in general has been improved. The levels are longer, and they go through many distinct and unique environments. There are more vehicle levels, and no Kryll means they're actually fun. The only vehicle sequence I didn't really care for was the Reaver one. The story is also greatly improved from the first one. I'm not ashamed to admit that I didn't even know, after the first Gears of War, that the game was set on another planet. I still have questions after Gears of War 2, but they're more, "So how does so-and-so fit into all this?" and less, "So why am I shooting these guys again?"

Finally, I'd never really enjoyed the first Gears of War for multiplayer. There was nothing wrong with it, but there was nothing that really stood out about it, either. Although it was released later, Call of Duty 4 provides about the most fun experience you can have with the usual first-person shooter modes. Gears of War 2 solves this problem by giving you a new multiplayer mode, the aforementioned Horde. The rules for Horde are simple... you and your friends cooperatively take on wave after wave of Locusts, each wave more challenging than the last. The goal is to simply survive all 50. To do so requires a level of skill on the parts of all the players, as well as genuine teamwork. If you're playing with a bad group, it can be frustrating, but if you're playing with people you really gel with, Gears of War 2 is almost worth buying just for Horde.

Ultimately, if you played the first Gears of War with feelings ranging from, "It's pretty good" to "Best Game EVAAAAR!" then you should definitely check out Gears of War 2, as it's an all-around improvement on a good formula.

Final Score: A

1 comment:

Alloreshadow said...

yea i dont think gears of war is anything like halo. i dont understand people who say it is. i personally LOVE the halo series and i LOVE gears of war. each is different enough to hold its own. i cant wait to get GOW 2!!