I finally beat Gears of War 2.Â I played through the entire campaign on Hardcore difficulty, co-op with Detnap.Â Together we defeated the 5 Acts of the campaign, each more varied than the one before.Â For any fan of Gears 1, Gears 2 is a must-play, and easy to recommend to any fan of shooter mechanics.Â However, despite accessibility, Gears 2 is not as easy to jump into.
Gears 2’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness.Â Every few minutes you are doing something new and interesting.Â As a Gears 1 player, the set piece levels were incredibly fun to play, interesting to look at, and kept me engaged in the experience.Â But as a Gears 1 player, I also had 8 hours of the basic Gears 1 maps to ingrain the basics of “take cover” and “flanking”.Â I can easily imagine a new Gears 2 player to run through a burning building.Â It takes a Gears 1 player to realize you still need to take cover along the way and that you still need to fight with the cover mechanic; that the building will stay up for at least a few minutes to fight as you always have.
There are also more weapons this time around, each with a specific optimal usage/range.Â With how important the cover mechanic is, jumping from box to box, it makes your weapon selection even more important than your normal shooter.Â Enjoyably, ammo is much more common this time around, and your co-op friend is not regulated to using the secondary, crappier weapons this time around or you forced to carry both types of assault rifle, just in case you run out of ammo for one of them.
As mentioned before, the enemy stun animations which impede attacks are probably the biggest addition to gameplay.Â Concentrated fire is important, and you can stun-kill the larger enemies without as much needless rolling around and dodging.Â I have yet to see the effect in multiplayer, but in the bot matches I played I found it worked well.
The game is very visceral.Â Graphically there is little like it, and it is one of the few games left that actually “gib” your enemies (gib: blow up into little pieces, from a grenade or such).Â Chainsaws and various other implementations of victory in multiplayer matches are all as fun to use as they are useful.
Everyone talks about Horde mode, a 5 player co-op match against 50 waves of enemies.Â What people don’t mention is that any of the other multiplayer modes (5 people per team) can be filled out with bots.Â Gears 1 multiplayer was often very hard to play with an odd number of people.Â 3vs2 or 4vs3 was unbalanced and the larger team almost always won.Â Now, you can fill out with bots, so there are at least a few more meat shields running around.Â The max players per team has also been raised to 5 from the original’s 4.
You should probably play Gears of War 2 on your 360, or go to your friend’s house to play co-op with them.Â It is a great example of a well polished game: fun, entertaining, technically and artisitically pleasing to watch, with a wide variaty of options that can add replayability for a long time to come.