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Gears of War 2: Most improved sequel ever?

[This is just one part of this week's mammoth Gears 2 coverage. Make sure to hit this link to check out our experiences with the brand new Horde multiplayer mode, and here for our exclusive interview with Cliff Bleszinski.]

Gears Of War 2 was always going to be a tricky prospect for Epic. Just how do you approach the follow-up to such an all-conquering media behemoth? Do you take the 'more of the same, but better?' angle, safe in the knowledge that the original was good enough to coast by on, but risking Zelda-like criticisms of over-familiarity? Or do you throw in new ideas all over the place in an effort to move things forward, but take a chance on alienating your audience?

Thankfully, from what we've played so far - around 80% of Gears 2's first act - it seems that Epic has taken an intelligent and well-judged approach to its biggest ever sequel, straddling a satisfying line between both philosophies. During our play-through, Gears 2 certainly delivered us a comfortable framework that we could drop straight back into, but that framework also served as a foundation for a much more textured and multi-dimensional game all round.

Read on, friends, and find out why Gears Of War 2 might be the most rewarding action sequel we've seen in a long time.


The new weapons add a lot to the gameplay

There's a whole new heavy weapons class in Gears of War 2, and despite only comprising a total of three new death-bringers it brings a whole new dimension to combat. Much like carrying a gun turret in Halo 3, using any of these bad boys will considerably reduce your maneuverability, but the sweet, sweet pay-off comes in the shape of immensely upgraded punishment power.

First up, the Mulcher is essentially a hand-held troika, and as such has the most fitting name imaginable. A few seconds' burst from this thing and you'll reduce your target to a warm, lumpy Locust stew. It's an unbelievably satisfying pay-back weapon when you're fighting on the back foot, and makes you feel like Jesse Ventura in Predator every, single, time you use it. Like all of the heavy weapons, carrying it slows your walking pace to a crawl, but if you can make it to a safe vantage point the Mulcher can become a major tactical boon.

Next, we have the flamethrower, which balances its short range with a wide spread and fast kill-speed. It's maybe not the revelation many were hoping for, but it does add an interesting new 'wade in and mop up' element to Gears combat, which is great when getting unexpectedly caught at close range. Just be careful of the way the flame jet can obscure your view ahead.

And last, and probably representing the most radical change to Gears of War's weapon handling, is the mortar. Holding down the left trigger puts Marcus into a crouched position and sits the firing tube on the ground. From there, holding down the right trigger cranks up a guage measuring the distance the mortar will fire, and letting go releases the payload. At first it's as awkward to use as it sounds. Trial and error is really the only way to learn how to target it effectively.

But after a few practice shots you'll get the feel for it, and at that point it becomes an utterly deadly long-range tool. Remember those hairy times in the first game when a squad of Locust would be followed up by two or three Boomers at the rear? Much less of a problem now. Just grab the mortar, fall back to a safe aiming spot, let rip and tear the hell out of the back row before it even gets into the fight. It also works very well against Brumacks, but we're not going to spoil that one for you.

There's also a new grenade which lets out a lingering cloud of poisonous gas. Its primary use is to tactically limit space on the battlefield, and as such it's going to be an absolutely killer tool in multiplayer.

36 comments

  • SpikeDelight - November 1, 2008 3:50 a.m.

    I cannot wait for this game. Great article, GamesRadar!
  • superquin92 - October 21, 2008 9:02 a.m.

    cant wait 4 dis game 2 cum out. im still waitn 4 my 360 2 b fixd................
  • imfagentsamfisher - October 18, 2008 2:58 a.m.

    Looks good. Nothing mind-blowing, but still something quite enjoyable. I look forward to it.
  • TheGreatHobbe - October 11, 2008 4:11 p.m.

    Zomg by the end of november i'll be broke, but its worth it.
  • oreomonkey - October 4, 2008 4:22 p.m.

    GEARS OF WAR SUCCCKKKKKSSS!!!!!! cod4 is where its at
  • DavyDon360 - October 1, 2008 7:15 p.m.

    OMG!!OMG!!!this game gonna own all ps3 exclusives.....i am so getting this..
  • Patius - October 1, 2008 3:47 a.m.

    This looks good. I still think its odd that the humans are the bad guys in the game, and that you are playing as them.
  • Smeggs - October 1, 2008 1:05 a.m.

    Oh! I only got $60 and I was saving it to buy "L4D" since it'll be months until I can manage to rent it...but now Gear 2! T_T i can't decide!
  • RedX - September 30, 2008 10:50 p.m.

    i cant wait to pick this game up and ride a brumak!!!
  • EliteSoldierUnit - September 30, 2008 6:22 p.m.

    both.
  • ALF - September 30, 2008 3:14 p.m.

    It's either this, or World at War... I just don't know....
  • CandiedJester - September 30, 2008 11:57 a.m.

    I definately have to reserve this now.
  • timp123 - September 30, 2008 9:50 a.m.

    when I think of the 360, i think of this game.
  • flare149 - September 29, 2008 10:31 p.m.

    Sounds ok, it'll be good, but things are definitely going to be different now that it has actual competition and isn't just the only truly next-gen game out there.
  • ihitthedrum - September 29, 2008 8:29 p.m.

    I'm going to definitely reserve this. You can never get over the amazing amount of blood in Gears! That itself adds to the replay value. :P
  • quicksilver_503 - September 29, 2008 4:22 p.m.

    sounds pretty good
  • xanderbetke - November 3, 2008 11:13 a.m.

    Gears of War 2 Soundtrack feat. Devotchka Hi All, Devotchka’s soundtrack for the Gears of War 2 trailer has sparked questions surrounding the indie rock band from Denver, Colorado. Having the same song on the soundtrack for the film “Everything Is Illuminated” etched their name into the entertainment industry. Their distinct sound adds the finishing touch to entertainment industry. To thoroughly check out their song on iTunes follow this link: www.itunes.com/devotchka/howitends Cheers
  • sonuvabish02 - October 19, 2008 11:57 p.m.

    I have to say Gears 2 looks good but its not the most improved sequel. It looks more of a Gears 1.5 more than a sequel, the honor of Most improved sequel must go to Resistance 2. It is leaps and bounds more than the original and RFOM was pretty good. I see Gears 2 and COD:WAW in the same plane in terms of improvements from the last game, no huge change in either game.
  • jingneji - October 12, 2008 5:34 a.m.

    im glad i pre-ordered Gears but i shouldve pre-ordered the limited one so i can get the golden lancer code (first thing ill do 1. Story mode Co-op 2.Multiplayer 5vs5!!! 3.HORDE!!!
  • Bag-Head - October 6, 2008 5:15 p.m.

    dude gears 2 is going to rock i'm definitly going to get this game, im going to have to get 60$, soon.

Showing 1-20 of 36 comments

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