Home Literature Stories Movies Games Comics News Discussion Forum
  Science Fiction and Fantasy News
Esslemont's Stonewielder Prologue and Cover (07-26)
Deals and Deliveries (9!!!) (09-12)
Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead by Steve Pe (09-12)
Iron Man: Femmes Fatales by Robert Greenberger (09-12)

Official sffworld Reviews
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber (05-29 - Book)
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent (05-25 - Book)
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig (05-21 - Book)
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith (05-17 - Book)

Site Index

Official sffworld Game Review    Bookmark and Share

Gears of War 2

So here we are again, ducking for cover as the next wave of Locust charge eagerly into our guns. Though the fanfare is slightly reduced for this second iteration of the Gears saga, it is no less important for Microsoft and Epic in showing the advancement that can be made between first and second generation titles, as well as how strong the franchise actually is.

Gears of War 2 is, in essence, more of the same, why change a winning formula after all? However, the scope of the game and its clear intention, if you’ll excuse the pun, of attempting to be an Epic is more fully realised this time around. The battle with the Locust is going badly, humanity being pushed inexorably back toward a desperate last stand. Into this bleak scene you once again take charge of Gear Marcus Fenix, sent on increasingly desperate missions with his fellow soldiers Dom, Cole and Baird, in order to blunt the Locust onslaught.

From the outset the difference between the first and second games is evident, whilst toward the end of the first you could only stare in disappointment as a scrap with the hulking Brumak was avoided, within an hour’s play of the second game you’ve accounted for at least half a dozen. Indeed, Epic’s Brumak contrition is genuine when an end set-piece becomes the absolute highlight of the game, incredulously turning the tables in a manner I defy anyone not to find ridiculously satisfying.

This raising of the stakes is a huge part of the appeal of Gears of War 2, what is now possible on the platform using the Unreal engine creates some staggering possibilities. For instance, the Locust have found a method of tunnelling under cities and collapsing them, this method is alive and gigantic. Needless to say it’s your job to put a stop to it, by, literally, entering the belly of the beast. Such ideas have given Gears of War 2 a greater diversity that shows, even though the formula is still cover-and-shoot, Epic have put a great deal of thought into new and satisfying ways in which to approach the convention.

Graphically the game is everything you expect, quality cut scenes give way to imposing environments and vertiginous vistas, detailed enemies swarm your position whilst your muzzle flare responds in kind. It is the classic shooter made blood-spattered beauty. There are new weapons, new types of enemy and a general raising of the bar in areas you’d expect improvement from. If there is a complaint though, it is that the nature of the story means a lot of time is spent underground and although these sections have been spruced up by a factor of ten from the original, they’re still a touch monotonous and boring.

In addition, the close combat in conjunction with a poor camera angle is still awkward and the grenades could do with a separate button. At times the fighting takes on a regimented approach; they fire, you fire, everyone has a turn. This serves to make the game less of a challenge as your accuracy is invariably telling, even against the large, lumbering behemoths. Your team mates are still part hindrance, part help, sometimes reviving you just when you need it, at others dragging their feet at the opposite end of a room or area. The interaction isn’t what it should be and a simple team direction interface wouldn’t go amiss in the inevitable third game.

The ending, when it comes, is a mixture of ‘woohoo’ and ‘oh, is that it?’ After a very enjoyable ‘I kinda hoped for it, but never expected it to happen’ moment, the end boss is disturbingly simple to the point of being a non-entity. Obviously the game has franchise written all over it and the multiple-chapter set-up doesn’t lend itself to endings, but it’s hard not to feel let down by the end sequence and brief post-credits suggestions.

Gears of War 2 is exactly what was expected, executed to a very high standard. There are fresh ideas entwined with the satisfying shooting of the first game. The storyline has improved somewhat though the overall direction it will now take is unclear and it still has the inevitable flaws of being stuck so rigidly in a single type of gameplay. The campaign mode is also a little bit short and easy but still one heck of a ride. If you didn’t like the first one, you won’t like this. If however you liked the first one, this is a serious step up. Boom.

Owen Jones © 2008

Sponsor ads



The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize!
05-31 - News
Stephen King's Joyland UK Promotion
05-30 - News
UK Publisher of Stephen King’s New Novel Unusual Promotion
05-30 - News
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber
05-29 - Book Review
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent
05-25 - Book Review
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
05-21 - Book Review
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith
05-17 - Book Review

05-10 - News
The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham
05-04 - Book Review
Galaxy's Edge 1 by Mike Resnick
04-28 - Book Review
Poison by Sarah Pinborough
04-21 - Book Review
Bullington, Beukes and Bacigalupi event
04-19 - News
The City by Stella Gemmell
04-17 - Book Review
Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
04-15 - Book Review
Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell
04-09 - Book Review
Frank Hampson: Tomorrow Revisited by Alastair Crompton
04-07 - Book Review
The Forever Knight by John Marco
04-01 - Book Review
Book of Sith - Secrets from the Dark Side by Daniel Wallace
03-31 - Book Review
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
03-25 - Book Review
Fade to Black by Francis Knight
03-13 - Book Review
The Clone Republic by Steven L. Kent
03-12 - Book Review
The Burn Zone by James K. Decker
03-06 - Book Review
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
03-04 - Book Review
Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri
02-28 - Book Review
Excerpt: River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
02-27 - Article
Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg
02-24 - Book Review
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
02-20 - Book Review
Evie Manieri Guest Post
02-19 - Article
The Grim Company by Luke Scull
02-17 - Book Review
Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein
02-11 - Book Review

New Forum Posts

About - Advertising - Contact us - RSS - For Authors & Publishers - Contribute / Submit - Privacy Policy - Community Login
Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use. The contents of this webpage are copyright © 1997-2011 sffworld.com. All Rights Reserved.