It’s been a couple of years since the first Gears of War and since then, lots of games have copied some of its innovative features – particularly the duck and cover gameplay mechanic of diving behind walls and popping out to take your shots to take out the bad guys.
Jump into Gears of War 2 and you get more of the same. The gameplay mechanic itself is exactly the same and luckily, developers Epic have a few new tricks up their sleeves to keep the game feeling fresh.
Since the last game the Locust Horde have been getting even stronger so this time Marcus, Dom and their fellow members of Delta Squad take the fight to them to wipe them out once and for all. Immediately you’re faced with all the big creatures from the first game. Corpsers and Reapers appear almost right from the off and we’re introduced to some new aliens to blow into the middle of next week. There are the Tickers, basically running landmines that charge kamikaze-style towards you, and also the Brumaks, basically massive locusts with guns on their backs and each arms. Of course, you’ll need some new firepower to take these down so now there are mortars to get to grips with and flame throwers to make them all hot under their reptilian collars.
There’s also the ability to now use a downed enemy as a meat shield, and use shields found on the floor. These mean you can advance with cover and use a pistol to take down your enemies which does change things significantly in multiplayer.
There’s also more variety in the gameplay. Some levels are on rails as you gun down enemies from vehicles, there are levels where you almost exclusively use your chainsaw in melee combat which you’ll never get tired of, and even a level where you have to make your way out of a giant worm sort of like a cross between Inner Space and Jonah from that book. There’s also a tank-driving mission which is probably the most disappointing as its turning circle is rubbish, resulting in frequent restarts when you fall off cliffs etc.
I’ll be brief with multiplayer as it’s so big and it’s ever-evolving. Playing campaign co-op is great fun as always and there’s a new Horde mode where you must fight waves of enemies as a team. Then there are the multiplayer deathmatch modes and team-based games which, apart from Horde mode, I can’t try out as multiplayer matchmaking seems to be broken at the time of reviewing.
Still, it’s another slick package that delivers both in single and multiplayer modes (when they get it working). There’s plenty of replay value to keep you playing well past your first single player campaign.
Gears of War 2 gets a monstrous 9 out of 10 – if you own a Xbox 360 then Gears of War 2 is an essential for your collection, true fans of the game should get hold of the Gears of War 2 Limited Edition before stocks run out.