|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Epic Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 7, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (12 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Also, sound effects and voice acting are spot on. Some examples include the muted thud of bullets striking a grub's chest, the jangling of equipment during a Roadie Run, the satisfying crunch of a finishing move, and the visceral sawing sound of the chainsaw bayonette. All the effects are great! Plus, the voice acting is hilarious! The characters always have lowbrow one-liners that fit the game perfectly. Granted, sometimes during cutscenes, the content of the dialogue doesn't match the characters' personalities. But contrived writing aside, the voice work is admirable.
Finally, and most importantly, the game is incredibly user-friendly. Epic Games lets you play Gears anyway you want. You can start a Solo Campaign, play split-screen co-op locally (individual players can even set their own difficulty settings), invite players into your game through online request, etc. Players can drop in and out at any time. Plus, they can even practice competitive multiplayer modes by themselves on the Training Grounds by playing against A.I. Also, private multiplayer sessions can be rounded out by adding bots to the mix. I simply can't overemphasize how cool all this flexibility is! Moreover, it all works to perfection; you'll never have problem. In an era in gaming when split-screen co-op seems to be going the way of the dodo, Epic proves it's just a matter of taking the time to get the coding right.
Outside of the enjoyable solo and co-op campaigns, the multiplayer modes are outstanding. All the modes you loved in GoW are back in GoW 2. They include variations on Team Deathmatch, War (Capture), King of the Hill, etc. Plus, there are a number of originals to the mix. Wingman pairs up players in up to five two-player teams. Teams duke it out in a series of rounds. The team with the most total points (awarded for kills and winning rounds) at the end, wins. Guardian selects one player from each team to be the leader. As long as the leader doesn't die, team members can continually respawn. Once the leader is taken out of commission, the end is very near. Submission, much like Capture the Flag, has teams attempting to collect a flag (of sorts) and bring it back to a zone of control. However, this flag is actually an A.I.-controlled combatant that will attempt to evade capture. Players will have to immobilize the flag and carry him back to the zone as they would a meat-shield in the campaign mode. Finally, the aptly-named Horde mode allows up to five players to get together and blast through wave after wave of ever-more-difficult enemies. Players revive at the end of each wave, but if all players die during the same wave, you lose. Talk about addictive fun! All in all, there are eight multiplayer modes (Warzone, Guardian, Wingman, Submission, Execution, Annex, King of the Hill, and Horde) outside of the campaign that are all worthwhile and will keep you gaming for months, possibly years to come.
Gears of War was one of the very best games of 2006 and Gears of War 2 is one of the best titles in 2008. The combat is fun and accessible, the gore is over-the-top, and the story's spiked with humor (though not always intended) and provides for a non-stop, action-packed thrill ride. Still, whereas the original title was groundbreaking, GoW 2 is simply a honed, rehashed sequel. As such, players who were unimpressed by the first entry will likely not enjoy this game either. Fortunately, Gear-Heads and those who just want to grind through some great environments packing heat and take out baddies in a font of gore are in for a treat!
CCC Editor / News Director