Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) Review

By Josh Di Falco 08.07.2017

Review for Gears of War 2 on Xbox 360

The Delta Squad are caught in the midst of this seemingly never-ending battle against their fellow planet-dwellers, the Locust. Led by Marcus Fenix, the team seeks to defend the last remaining major city, Jacinto. Epic Games' big epic action title Gears of War 2 improves on everything that the original had to offer, and more. This third-person tactical shooter keeps true to its roots with the cover-based tactile shooting, as it makes its way to Xbox One.

If there is ever a video game series out there that makes butchering through waves of enemies with a chainsaw-equipped machine gun enjoyable, it would have to be Gears of War 2. On the cover, this action game looks like another gut-busting and blood-spewing slaughterhouse of fun. However, upon further inspection reveals the underlying aspects of a tactile shooter. Simply running out into the open fields with guns blazing is a sure fire way to quickly perish under the hail of bullets, and as such, ducking in and out of cover is a requisite to conquering the Locust Horde.

The story continues on from the first game, though it can easily be picked up by new fans due to how loosely it really ties into the first game. Understand that at the least, the Delta Squad are defending humanity's last hope of survival against the underground-dwelling civilisation of the Locust. The Delta Squad is led by Marcus Fenix and is accompanied by his best friend, Dom Santiago, while the 'Cole Train' Augustus Cole and Damon Baird return from the first game. The four characters work well together, and the dialogue sequences between the four of them are a major improvement over the first game.

Screenshot for Gears of War 2 on Xbox 360

The original game barely did enough to create the need to actually care about their safety and well-being; however the emotional beats in this game and the subtle dialogue quips that illustrates the greater impact that this war has had on their lives turns them into more than just generic action heroes. Baird is still the wise-cracking hothead who always has the perfect responses to even the direst of situations, while Cole's overabundance of enthusiasm and energy is a delight at the frontlines. Dom's character development seems wholly reliant on bouncing off Marcus, though the biggest gripe with Marcus is that he is simply a grunting yelling machine who doesn't connect well with any of the others. Why Dom or any of the others constantly put up with Marcus is anyone's guess. Marcus still sounds like he really doesn't give a damn about anyone else but himself. Really felt for Dom in this game, as his relationship with Marcus feels impacted by Marcus' inability to show compassion to him at times, even though Dom would do so for him.

The game plays the exact same to the predecessor, with the main focus relying heavily on the tactical-shooting aspects. Because of this, every single battle arena is cleverly laid out with strategically placed covers that are mandatory to a sense. As previously mentioned, this isn't the type of run-and-gun where Marcus can soak up plenty of damage. If he is caught out in the open or unawares, he will die very quickly. The cover system is vastly improved, though there are still the occasional annoyances when Marcus will just stand up from a cover for no reason, or he will back up against the wrong wall rather than the intended one. However, for the most part, the system works well.

However, this isn't a sole-player shooter, as the squad of four can plough through waves of enemies as they work together as a team. While the team-based aspect is strictly just finding faster ways to gun down the enemies, the AI partners do a fantastic job of actually helping. There have been too many games before where the AI partners never seem to score a hit, and leave all the work to the main player, however Gears of War 2 does a brilliant job of getting them to actually seem alive and fluent. The AI partners are vastly improved, and can more than handle their own in a firefight. It truly feels like they are played by humans, and it helps in bridging the friendship between the four of them.

Screenshot for Gears of War 2 on Xbox 360

Unfortunately, the game employs a recovery mechanic for when a partner goes down in a fight. If Dom, Baird or Cole falls in battle, Marcus or another squad member can rush over to recover them. However it is inconsistent with Marcus, because if he falls in battle, his teammates never get the opportunity to recover him. He is just dead, and causes a restart of the battle which is annoying, and puts the whole dependency on Marcus. Due to the close squad-based mechanics of the game, it would have been a greater addition to allow for Marcus to be recovered also. But alas, it wasn't to be.

The weapon wheel returns, with four slots for two big guns, a pistol and a grenade slot. Don't fret about holding on to the important weapons, as the weapon drops are so frequent and the important guns or required guns are usually placed right before they are needed for certain sections in the game. While normally this kind of mechanic would be frustrating, in Gears of War 2 this is duly needed due to the exorbitant amount of gun fights, and trying to focus on not using all the bullets would just slow the game down. As such, the frequent weapon drops and bullets mean that the shooting never has to stop.

In addition to the main weapons, special weapons, that doesn't take up a weapon slot and are generally very limited in use, can also be used when found. For instance, there's a Gatling Gun-type of weapon that slows down Marcus' movement, but can open fire a clean barrage of bullets that can bring down even the greatest of the beasts in a matter of seconds. These weapon placements are also strategically placed to ensure that Marcus always has access to them right when the game is about to pump out a heap of enemies.

Screenshot for Gears of War 2 on Xbox 360

Every so often, some games feel the need to mix up the known gameplay with minor excursions that employ transports and vehicles. Gears of War 2 has hits more than misses, as the Centaur Tank feels as clunky as it the name suggests. The Tank controls are questionable, as the gun only shoots in the direction that the camera is facing, however it only drives in the direction that the camera is facing. The inability to swing the cannon around while trying to outrun the enemies makes this entire vehicle feel irrelevant. But the game more than makes up for with other transports late in the game. Without trying to spoil the fun, these sequences are bombastic in nature, and has the ability to cause as much carnage and chaos as possible.

While the graphics are much improved over the first game, Gears of War 2 still seems to suffer from the same graphical cuts and slowdowns that its predecessor did. Whether this was in the original Gears of War 2, or whether it was introduced during the process of making it playable on the Xbox One, it is the lowest points of the game because it happens so frequently. The sound clips will also cut out mid-sentence, or just not even register a sound when it was supposed to. Some cut scenes just crumble completely, as the black screen appears while the sounds of the cut scene keep playing through.

The online portion of this game has seen better days, and trying to find matches nowadays is a long waiting process. Sure, there are some people who are still playing this, but not as much as its predecessor. Horde Mode makes its chronological introduction here, which is a survival-based mode where a team of players must defend against waves of oncoming Locusts. While it may have once saw better days also, Horde mode is now a barren wasteland of fun, and now has a true sense of loneliness with it.

Screenshot for Gears of War 2 on Xbox 360

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Gears of War 2 is a huge step up from the original title that gave rise to Epic's big blockbuster franchise. Improving greatly with the AI partners, combined with the open-world fight arenas and plenty of cover to hide behind, it shows why this game went on to become one of the best-selling titles. While online mode is non-existent due to the lack of players who are online, Horde mode can still be enjoyed in single-player format. This is a great game that players can go back to, while still being fresh for new players. Graphical glitches are prevalent, but aren't game breaking, as the story between the Locust invasion and the Delta Squad as humanity's last known hope for survival takes another turn.

Developer

Epic Games

Publisher

Microsoft Game Studios

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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