Millions of gamers around the globe have defined their love for Gears of War by focusing on one solitary figure – Marcus Fenix, the leader of Delta Squad. And, after two years, the highly anticipated sequel to Gears of War has finally arrived. The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) needs you once again. Are you up to the task?
Gears of War follows humanity’s struggle for survival against the seemingly unstoppable alien race known as the Locust Horde. Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad are part of the resistance force pitted against this vicious enemy who threaten to take over the entire world. The last beacon of hope for humanity is the city of Jacinto and this is where Gears of War 2’s story begins.
One of the main reasons why Gears of War is so much fun to play is the incredibly immersive storyline in campaign mode and the intense action of the multiplayer online game via Xbox Live. In Gears of War 2, these important elements have not only been expanded, but have been drastically improved upon.
This time around, the campaign focuses on more than one character. As interesting as Marcus Fenix is, we are now allowed to see beyond the leader of Delta Squad and into the experiences of other characters in his team; in particular Dominic ‘Dom’ Santiago, who is struggling with the frustrations of being unable to contact his wife, Maria. During early training sequences, we also meet a brother of fallen Delta Squad member Ben Carmine, who was killed in the campaign mode of the first game. Thankfully there are plenty of new Locust Horde minions to take out your revenge upon, such as the Kantus, which throw nasty ink bombs and prove particularly difficult to kill.
It goes without saying that the weapons in Gears of War are a fundamental part of the fun. The Lancer gun, which introduced a Texas Chainsaw Massacre style of mayhem to rip your enemies to shreds, became one of the most talked about aspects of the original game. In Gears of War 2, the weapons have been improved to enhance the gameplay in both campaign and multiplayer modes. New methods of dealing out death include flamethrowers, ink grenades, mulchers (like a mini-gun) and mortars. The carnage that ensues is highly graphic, so expect lots of blood and gore - which explains why it’s rated R18.
The campaign mode is undeniably good but, for real gamers, online multiplayer is where it’s at. With 10 new maps added, five refurbished original maps and several different multiplayer game mode options to choose from, Gears of War 2 has never been so much fun online. Three of the most popular multiplayer modes have been retained (Warzone, Execution and Annex) and new game modes Wingman, Guardian, Submission, King of the Hill and the insane Horde mode have been added.
Horde mode is one of the best online multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had. The object is simple: your team must survive wave after wave of the vile Locust Horde. Up to five people can co-operate in a match and you can vary the difficulty level from Casual through to Insane. There are many achievements to be gained in this mode – the best being awarded for finishing all 50 waves in Horde mode on any difficulty. Each wave increases in ferocity and volume until you’re frantically fragging in every direction. In this mode, the emphasis is most definitely on teamwork because you cannot survive without good strategy.
Wingman is also an interesting new multiplayer option that pairs you up with another player against four other teams (10 players in total). It’s essentially a ‘two versus two’ competition of skill and teamwork. The multiplayer game has two options for choosing your online opponents. You can either choose Private Xbox Live (which allows only friends to join) or Public mode, which puts you into a random pool of players on Xbox Live based on your skill ranking. Your ranking is improved by winning online multiplayer games. Your rank is also affected if you leave a game halfway through or play poorly in general. This is considered a ‘True Rank’ system and is very similar to the excellent ranking schemes used in other online multiplayer games such as Halo and Call of Duty.
The Party play system has also been overhauled and now includes up to five players per side (previously it was only four). With so many different game modes to choose from, Gears of War 2 is one of the best value-for-money games on offer this Christmas. The original Gears of War is now two years old and is still one of the most popular online games on Xbox Live. Now that Gears of War 2 has arrived, the fun factor has just been increased exponentially.
If you enjoy shooting games that push the online experience to the absolute limit, then Gears of War 2 is the game for you. For those who feel a little daunted by the extreme online competitiveness of games like this, you can breathe easy. Gears of War 2 allows you to acquire all the online achievements without ever having to play against the ruthless gamers who haunt Xbox Live looking for fresh newbie victims. So nobody has an excuse not to enjoy this amazing game.