Review | 2008.11.21

Ty and I just finished Gears 2 with some help from Kevin. It was a two-sitting playthough thanks to a midweek cold.

As expected, the game mechanics are pretty much the same as the first, the graphics have improved, and Epic has added a few more toys. Some of the levels are visually and aesthetically quite impressive. The level design hasn't changed, it's linear except each area has a few dead end branches to make you waste time scouring them, or wonder if you missed something important.

The ai is coming along nicely, and that adds intrigue to what might otherwise be a shoot-duck-shoot adventure. On the subject of switching up the trench/barrier gunfight formula, Gears does something well. The go-to methods for preventing players from camping are to surround and/or charge. It's a crutch for adding difficulty when your pretty graphics don't let you send endless hordes.

The baddies in Gears do sometimes charge, and often flank - which is much different from having them pour in from every direction. This game presents a number of scenarios where the cover moves or disappears. The ars reviewer was all hyphy about this. It's okay but I'm glad they didn't overuse it.

What's really cool is the introduction of mortars. Fearing the vertical element you can still snipe, but not with complacency. It creates a distinct disincentive to be co-located with your buddy. There's just a whole new dimension when you can be surrounded by cover, but not safe. And it works the other way when you pick up a mortar tube.

Let's see... Epic realized that if there's going to be a trilogy, they need a story so that's been added (ahem, Halo). The in-game dialog is good and sometimes humorous (Marcus = Bender), the cutscene scripts are horrendous.
Great fun and a fantastic application of the media room.

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