Impressions: Gears of War 2

"Kiss the rings, bitch!"

Gears of War was a good game.  It was completely honest about what it was: a game aimed directly at teenage boys.  There was an apparent shallowness to the first Gears.  The single player campaign was fun but a bit vacant, with co-op making it a little interesting.  The multiplayer was fun too, but horribly one sided.  Which-ever team had host won the game and matchmaking was a strong “no”.  Still, Gears of War had a certain look and play style that was different and worth the time.

Gears of War 2?  Better.  Much, much better.  It could easily be the game of the year, and it is a pure and amazing example of how to make an action game.

Let me fill you in.  In the first Gears, Marcus Fenix and Dom go hunting after a weapon to kill the Locust, an underground race of thingys that like to kill people.  In Gears 1, you pretty much run around and kill dudes until you can’t anymore.  The boss fights and the encounters were all the same.  Gears 2 fixes that by amping up the encounters by ten.  The battles you get into are truly, uh, epic.  If you put the difficultly on heroic, you really wonder sometimes exactly how you will get out of the mess.  There are situations where you run out of ammo, surrounded by enemies and just have to fight as hard as you can.  It is awesome.  The single-player is a work of art.  So many times, you have to just stop and look at the scenes, look at the amazing scenery that you see.  And there is one whole chapter where you have to dodge stomach acid.  I

Hostiles, left!                              Yeah, no shit!

"Hostiles, left!" "Yeah, no shit!"

won’t ruin it for you, but it is a really great chapter.  Gears of War 2 doesn’t hit that emotional core that Epic was hoping for.  The characters never connect with us in that way.  The story is still a mystery as well.  Where did the Locusts come from?  What do they want?  And what about these “Glow-worm” Locusts?  The second game creates more questions than the first, and pretty much guarantees a third installment in 2010.  I already pre-ordered it.

Hate single player?  Fine, how about the most robust multiplayer game I’ve ever played.  You can play five-player matchmaking.  You can play two player duals.  You can play Execution, Annex, King of the Hill, Warzone, Guardian, Wingman or Submission on matchmaking or in custom games.  You can play with bots.  And these bots are so good that me and five guys played against these bots and LOST!  TWICE!  Don’t want to do any of that?  Fine.  You and five guys can play Horde, where wave upon wave of Locust enemies come at you and get tougher and tougher.  I started on level 1 on Heroic.  We all died on level 35.  It took three hours.  Epic gave us everything they could think of in a multiplayer game, and every bit of it is wonderful.

There are a few problems.  The net code is way better than the first game, but it still can be chingy.  Matchmaking sometimes takes a long time, and laggy games are completely unplayable.  Plus, the big-bad Skorge of Gears 2 is no way as badass as the Gears 1 General Raam.  But, honestly?  This is a must buy for anyone who likes shooters.   Gears of War 2 is the most fun I’ve had with a video game in a long, long while and everything about it is a pure gem. A+ for real.