Gears of War 2 Review
Gears of War 2 box art
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.

Gears of War 2 screenshot

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.

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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!

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

The shiny visuals and fluid animations are outstanding. The game is only mildly marred by the dumb human character designs and occasional framerate drop and temporary freezing.
The controls are accessible and engaging to all skill levels, and the cover mechanic is near-perfect.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are spot on. The voice work, while frequently unbelievable, is a hoot!
Play Value
There is a lot to love about this title! The Solo and Co-op campaign flexibility is unparalleled, and the nicely implemented and varied multiplayer modes will have you gaming for a long time. There are some who simply won't "get" GoW 2 though.
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Unparalleled gameplay: Gears of War 2 takes the award-winning gameplay of the original and improves upon it in every way. The genre-defining cover system is further refined, making the "stop and pop" gameplay more intuitive. Dynamic cover is given new meaning as downed opponents can be picked up and used as shields. The intimate violence of the battlefield is heightened when combatants engage in chainsaw duels. Destructible environments and vicious new finishing moves add to the over-the-top experience.
  • Jaw-dropping visuals: Gears of War 2 continues to raise the graphics bar through its breathtaking visual effects, made possible through advances in Unreal Engine 3.
  • Expanded cooperative play: Team up with a friend to fight through the harrowing story of Delta Squad in the enhanced campaign mode, now featuring drop-in/drop-out gameplay, as well as individual player difficulty options. Or recruit four friends to battle in the new game mode "Horde," where you'll fight together to fend off a seemingly endless onslaught of Locust forces to attain the highest score.
  • Fierce and varied competitive multiplayer action: Gears of War 2 features eight distinct multiplayer modes, including the new Wingman, Guardian and Submission modes, where up to 10 players choose a side and pit their courage and battlefield mettle directly against others. In addition, multiplayer bots are available to sharpen your skills offline or to fill out your online private matches on Xbox LIVE.
  • Party system and skill-based online matchmaking: New to Gears of War 2 is a party system that allows players to form a full or partial team with friends and continue together from match to match without the need to reform after each game. Gears of War 2 also supports a skill-based online matchmaking system, powered by TrueSkill, which groups players of similar skill level together in competitive multiplayer matches.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 1080p (Full HDTV).

  • Screenshots / Images
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