Sunday, December 5, 2010
Gears of War 2
My trend for videogaming follows two models. First and foremost, I play one game at a time, and I play it to completion before moving on. This way you're not having to learn new control schemes all the time, and the way games are made today, it's a complete story usually with a definite beginning and a definite end. The second path of gaming I follow is that I end up playing them one to two years after their release date. What this means is I usually can pick up a great game, such as Gears 2, at a fraction of the $60 pricetag these things have when they are first released. Just last weekend I finished the story Gears of War 2.
The one side effect to reviewing games a year or so after their release is that people paid to review such games have already done the job for me! Check out Gamespot's review here. This leaves me free to just give my impressions.
I loved the first Gears of War, but the sequel far outshines the original. Whereas the Halo franchise is a very polished version of the future, broad in scope, the Gears franchise is down and dirty true military sci-fi. You have a good-sized arsenal of weaponry, but all of it feels "real", no plasma blasters or the like, just good ole slug-throwers and shotguns. A nice nod is also the chainsaw bayonet that your primary rifle comes equipped with. Remember, "realistic" is a relative term in the future!
Gameplay itself is at least twice as long as the original, and features new members to Delta Squad that are really cool, although their roles aren't as prominent this time around. Also a strong showing of characters from the first foray make a return appearance.
The action takes place on one planet with fighting both in urban and open areas, in city ruins as well as underground and much more. Levels where you're not ground-pounding it on foot are also prevalent. One has you in a Centaur Mobile Tank, another puts you on a slow-moving mobile drilling platform that you have to defend, at one point you're on some flying creatures duking it out speeder bike style, and there's some PT boat combat thrown in for good measure to boot. None of these sequences take away from the foot-slogging though, there's still plenty of that, including the 'choose which path to take' options that I enjoyed so much in the first one. Do you go through the ruined building one room at a time, or stay to the streets? Do you provide covering fire from the elevator as the other squad advances down into the earth, or are you the other squad? The terrain, if you will, is drop-dead gorgeous, and the various environments are all very detailed and well thought out.
The antagonist race, the Locust, is revealed tenfold, thickening the overall plot considerably. Their hierarchy, troop types, and most importantly, their origins are all revealed in pretty grandiose ways. You combat more of the hulking behemoths this time around as well, and when those emergence tunnels open up there's a real sense of dread because you've no idea what you're going to be facing.
I know Black Ops is "so hot right now", but if you were on the fence when GoW2 came out, it's less than twenty bucks now and is one of the best military sci-fi shoot 'em ups I've played. For the non-videogamers out there, just do an image search on GoW2, there's plenty of good terrain ideas to be had, not to mention a few good scenarios ideas as well.