Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gears 2: First Impressions

It's probably not fair to call this "first impressions", since I'm almost done with the single-player campaign. But it's the first time I'm writing about it, so...close enough.

The gameplay of Gears of War 2 is practically identical to the original Gears. If you're looking for something revolutionary, some new ground-breaking game mechanic, then Gears 2 isn't for you. If you just want a bigger, badder, better Gears of War...then rev up your Lancer, because Gears 2 delivers.

Everything I loved about the first game is back. You still get to blow up enemies with the Torque Bow, and the Cole Train talks trash constantly. But there are also new weapons, new monsters, and new vehicles. The engine has been improved so the areas are larger and have more enemies. Movement is smoother with a more intuitive 'A' key. Gameplay is once again varied, as you'll be fighting on gunboats, sky cars, and moving trains. Your AI companions are orders of magnitude more effective, almost too much so at times. There were a few battles where I wasted time at the beginning finding the perfect vantage point, only to discover the battle was nearly over once I set up.

The story is well-developed so far, although claims by the designers that it's deeper and more emotionally affecting than Bioshock are way off base. Interestingly, there is a level that is so reminiscent of Bioshock that I can only hope it was done in homage...because otherwise it's a direct ripoff. This broken-down lab houses genetic experiments, automated gun turrets, and spooky voice on the PA system. The entire feel of this level, including the lighting, colors, and sounds, is pure plagiarism.

I am, of course, loving the game. There's a new co-op feature called Horde that I'm dying to try out, and I'll be replaying the campaign on insane difficulty as soon as I finish on hardcore. Maybe it hasn't quite met my hype-crazed expectations, but it's still pretty damned good.


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