Guest Author - James Shea
The prototypical third-person cover shooter, "Gears of War 2" is a solid rush of now-standard gameplay conventions and action movie dialogue. It has its charms, and is a pretty solid game, but isn't without its problems.
GoW2 operates under the same basic principles as the first game: you play as a bulky space marine, using cover-shooter mechanics to carve through waves of enemy monsters. Most shooting is either done "blind" (shooting from behind cover) or popping out and shooting. Like in the first game, there are a few things that separate it from other cover shooters. The first of these is the "active reload" system, where timing your reload properly allows you to do it faster or even improve the damage of your next magazine. The second is melee combat, most famously the "chainsaw bayonets" mounted on the standard assault rifle. However, for the most part GoW2's combat is formulaic, like the first.
There are a few new weapons to spice things up, though. These include a gatling gun (that must be mounted on cover and cranked to fire) and a mortar launcher (good at distances, but less so at close range). The action is intense and fast-paced, but the main issue is that even with varying weapons, you're still basically doing the same cover routine over and over and over. There are a few sequences to break up the monotony, but they don't disguise the fact that the main game is kind of simplistic.
Multiplayer is one of the game's strongest points. There are basically three kinds: cooperative, competitive, and horde mode. Cooperative refers to the ability to play through the campaign with multiple players. It's simplistic, but fun. Competitive refers to the standard set of multiplayer modes - deathmatch, capture-the-flag, etc. Horde mode is an expansion of cooperative mode that allows up to five players to try to survive against waves of enemies. It's probably the most interesting mode, and allows for the most strategic options (figuring out where to hole up, setting traps and killzones, etc).
The game's production values are good. It's visually exciting, if a bit repetitive. The guns sound neat, and there's certainly nothing more ominous than the revving of the aforementioned chainsaw-bayonets. Gears of War 2 is most fun as a multiplayer game - it's the kind of game where you can get some friends together and play all afternoon. As mentioned, it gets kind of repetitive, but the multiplayer experience is enough to overcome that.
We purchased this game with our own funds from a game store.
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