I’m going to be that annoying cousin that comes out once a year to see the family for Christmas. Don’t pretend like you don’t know who I’m talking about, he’s loud, obnoxious, drinks a little too much and always says inappropriate things when your elderly grandmother is in the room. I’m going to come out and say Gears of War is the new franchise for Microsoft to hide behind and pretend it was all their idea. Gears of War instantly became the must have title for the Xbox 360, and really has been overshadowing Halo 3. Now we have the inevitable sequel at our doorsteps, the question is did they get it right?
Gears of War 2 (GoW) is what I would call a perfect sequel. It builds on the first one, and while not changing too much that people came to love and respect, still moves ahead in leaps and bounds that make you sit back and think how you lived without these new additions.
First thing that makes me happy to see is more development in the story and the characters. The story this time has the feel of an epic movie, of urgency, and I actually care about the characters unlike first time around. The game feels and plays like an action movie, with memorable characters, which is becoming harder and harder to find in games these days. Sure it’s no Bioshock, but GoW 2’s story definitely makes the first GoW mean a lot more which is great, it compliments its roots.
Controls are more refined, and while it still offers a nice little training exercise for new comers, if you have played the first GoW then nothing has changed in way of controls. The covering system is more refined, and using tables and desks as cover is really cool as now Marcus will flip them down and hide behind them.
Nice to see some new weapons, and more refinement in the old favourites, the Lancer is as badass as ever! The new Locust machine gun is a nice touch, the Longshot has a better scope and there are some very nice new weapons for you all to enjoy. Of course, all of these weapons are used by the Locust, and there are no shortage of new spectacular enemies.
Technically the game is great. The sound has been totally re-worked. The guns actually feel like they have weight and substance, the shotgun is a booming thunder of death, and the grenades wouldn’t be out of place at a rave club they sound so meaty. Graphically the game is stunning, but I wouldn’t say it’s 100% improvement on the original’s already fantastic graphics. Acheivements are put to great use here, with continual pop-ups at key moments to see how far along you are to obtaining it, for instance when I hit the 15 active reload mark it popped up stating “Once More With Feeling 15/30” which is nice to know when you are working towards them.
One of the scenes in the single player campaign is one of the most memorable I’ve ever played, so much blood, I seriously think the kiddies should be kept away!
All in all Gears of War 2 is Microsoft’s next big title, and it deserves to be the face of the Xbox 360. Improving everything from the first classic, but still feeling exactly the same in a strange new world, this is the must have title of 2008