9.0

Gears of War 2 review
Gears of War 2: Epic did it again

The good:

Graphics- This time around, Epic has turned the best graphics on the 360, on there head. No game holds a candle to the level of detail in these visuals. Clean crisp textures, fluid and correct animations, to the most advanced water and lighting effects to date. The unreal engine 3.5 really cranks out the looks on this one.

Sound- Sound design is similarly well done. Weapons sound like you'd imagine, maybe a little weak at times, but they sound right to me. Some guns have gotten new sound files, like the Sniper rifle, Boltok and Lancer. Voice acting is done pretty well, again and the characters sound like they mean it. In short, the sound is pretty damned good.

Gameplay- Single player in Gears of War wasn't much to yell and holler about. You could only play campaign, after that if you didn't have live [like I don't] you were screwed. This problem has been fixed in Gears of War 2. Not only does the story mode actually have a story. But add-ons like A.I. fighters in all of the multiplayer options and the new mode called 'Horde', have basically remedied the need for Xbox LIVE. They have added much more playability into the title. Horde is awesome fun, for me anyway. And it can be challenging, assuming you're player with only two people on a single xbox and no one else. The addition of A.I.s in multiplayer also allow for some quick fun when you don't wanna get involved in an ongoing war for survival.

A.I. This time around the locust are still pretty smart. They make use of flanking a little more, and they act as a group, much more smoothly. But if you were to look at it on a single A.I. unit level. It has actually been dumbed down. They aren't as individual violent as in Gears of War. They, for the most part, find a spot and hunker down, and tend to try and stay under cover. While this makes it too easy to score one shot kills on them, it also reflects what they might do if they were real. Either way, the Locust Horde is still dangerous.

The bad:

Bugs- I've met a few bugs. The worst one is when I have mantled cover, and my character immediately re-mantles over it, the opposite direction. This has caused me to die once and cause some minor annoyances on other occasions.

Rail sections- This time around you get to drive three vehicles, one a tank, the other a Reaver and a Brumak. While the tank section isn't that hard, the Reaver section should never have been put in. The controls are clunky, and the guys at epic expect you to do too much while in a narrow tunnel. It just isn't easy to get out of this section of the game.

Summary:

Gears of War 2 has a bunch of new gameplay features, and a much better storyline than the first Gears of War. But it isn't perfect. While I do not have online, I have heard many times that it is very messed up. However Epic is also getting patches out to help and fix these issues.

Story mode is worth the time to play through, this time around. It focuses around hitting the locust back, and harder than before, stopping cities form sinking and finding Dom's wife, Maria. With a darker overtone and more meaningful plot pieces, the story is definitely there this time.

Multiplayer, from the system side is pretty fun. Aside from bots being too easy to kill at times, and the annoying tendency for them to blow your head off instantly, and out of the blue. Wingman is a very fun mode, even if you have to play with A.I.s

Now that we've talked about the multiplayer gameplay, what about single player? It's mostly unchanged from Gears of War [1]. Standing in the open gets you killed on harder difficulty levels, and the cover system works the same. It's a fairly standard shoot'em up 3rd person shooter, but it does it very well. And of course, with the story line this time around it's even better. But with refined cover mechanics, so sticking to cover when you don't want to doesn't happen as much if at all. And with the Unreal Engine running 30% better than it did in Gears of War, gameplay is smooth as silk, fast paced and just a whole shitload of fun.

Horde mode is easily the best add-on to the game. It is pretty simple, and shouldn't be too hard. But I think this hinges on you have 3 or more people playing. It is a bit repetitive but is good fun, and if you're playing alone, I am sure it can get pretty hard in the later levels.

All in all. I'd say go ahead and buy it. The story is definitely worth your time, and we'll see if Epic is gonna be able to patch up the multiplayer or not.

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