Gears of War 2 Review

02 December 2008 | Xbox 360 Review
Gears of War 2 is the follow-up to the enormously successful pop-n-stop shooter Gears of War. Developed by Epic Games and touted as “Bigger, Badder, and more Badass,” Gears of War 2 delivers with the same addictive gameplay and spectacular graphics, but its blemishes are more visible this time around.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
The gameplay really hasn’t changed that much since the first time around. You move in and out of cover with the A-button, aim with the left trigger and shoot Locusts with the right trigger. There are some great gameplay additions like the ability to grab a downed opponent and use them as a shield…and the OK chainsaw battles. The more important and necessary tweaks come in the form of giving bullets “stopping-power” which severely hampers shotgun bum rushes and making chainsawers vulnerable during the animation. The main campaign and story is also a lot better but still littered with some ridiculously cliche dialogue.

Graphics: 9.5/10
Unreal Engines still delivers in the graphics department and the animations, characters and levels all look spectacular. If you thought Gears 1 looked good, Gears of War 2 certainly won’t disappoint. The multiplayer levels have a fantastic variety of looks, lighting, and color palletes. Unfortunately that doesn’t translate to the latter part of the campaign where you spend a majority of your time underground in blase tunnels.

Sound/Music: 9.5/10
The voice acting is really good, but there is still some dialogue that is suspect. All the Locust talk is incredibly well done and the one-liners in multiplayer work well. The sound FX are fantastic. The weapons sound visceral and get your adrenaline pumping. The music is good but is dwarfed by the sounds of combat.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Gears of War 2 makes great strides in its multiplayer. It has 15 maps, a much improved spectator mode/camera, and some great new multiplayer modes (specifically Wingman, Submission and the incredibly addictive Horde mode). It also has implemented a matchmaking system…which was incredibly slow at launch and was recently patched…even still it pales in comparison to the matchmaking found in other games. The ranking system is also suspect since my fellow teammates and I have ranked up when we lose and ranked down after a win. There is still a significant host advantage, disconnects, and incredibly laggy multiplayer. Finally, multiplayer is in need of some sort of health bar…the red gear indicator is too subjective and there’s nothing more frustrating than getting killed because you judged you and your opponents damage incorrectly.
Average: 93.75%
Tilt: +0.25%

Despite its flaws, Gears of War 2 is still a vastly entertaining experience. Yes it can be frustrating at times. But regardless of how many times you get killed, you never want to put down the controller. When it comes to multiplayer, GoW2 is not nearly as technically capable or refined as Halo 3, but the game itself is still just as fun.
Verdict: 94%

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