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Gears of War 2 review

AT A GLANCE
  • Refined graphical effects
  • Awesome climactic battles
  • Brilliant revamping of mechanics
  • So big it's bloated
  • Cavern levels go on too long
  • Some weak story points

There’s a moment at the end of the second act of Gears of War 2 where, all of a sudden, the infamous Unreal Engine 3 ‘Meatcube’ demo makes sense. At that point, you’ll realize why Epic thought it so important to show Marcus Fenix blasting around a giant hunk of meat at the Games Developers Conference, and just why getting those wibbly-wobbly meat physics right were so important. Maybe at that point you’ll wonder whether the new power of Unreal Engine 3 is behind the design for Gears 2, or whether the design of Gears 2 is what made Epic evolve Unreal Engine 3, but whether the chicken or the egg came first, it’s clear throughout that there’s new technology behind the game.

The meaty climax to Act 2 is an obvious demonstration of the engine’s new power, but the signs are there throughout – meaty chunks can be shot out of the bigger Locusts, water and blood flows and pools more realistically, the environment splinters and shreds under sustained fire, and every act has at least one epic battle against swarms of Locusts. It’s all technology shown off at GDC 2008 and it has made Gears 2 a very different game.

In truth, nobody wanted Gears 2 to be a whole new world. Gears of War worked. The cover system worked, the guns worked, the linear stages worked, the roadie run worked, and the chainsaw on the end of the Lancer worked. Gears was never broken, and Epic have elected not to fix it, but that’s not to say the new tech hasn’t led to some new ideas. Gears 2 is a natural evolution, perfecting the systems which almost worked, scrapping the systems which never worked, and adding new systems – all of which work brilliantly.

What’s most surprising isn’t the things Epic decided had been ‘wrong’ in the original and ‘fixed’ in the sequel; it’s in the things that were almost right in Gears, and have been perfected in Gears 2. Suddenly, your AI partners are worth keeping alive – standing and fighting like men rather than collapsing and dying immediately upon glimpsing an enemy, and coming to your aid while you’re down. The roadie run is more precise – you’ll stick to the wrong cover less and snap to the right cover more. That cover system too, is better – you’ll snap in and out more fluidly and can take advantage of the environmental damage to whittle your enemy’s cover away and nail a crafty headshot. The same applies to the executions; it was always fun to stamp and squash a head, and Epic have spent the last 24 months perfecting the meaty squish with their updated engine, adding new animations and options for ways to dispose of (or make use of) a downed foe.

More Info

Release date: Nov 07 2008 - Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Epic Games
Franchise: Gears of War
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:
18+

85 comments

  • eee - December 9, 2009 6:13 p.m.

    I am a hardcore halo fan and I also love gears of war but Halo got a 10 and gears of war got a 9 suck it Halo haters
  • mjmont92 - December 7, 2008 9:40 p.m.

    Wow! Wow, wow. This game is everything the first Gears was and more, the graphics look beautiful, the enemies are smarter. The bosses are bigger, badder, and prettier (in a grotesque sort of way). The only drawback is the storyline could use a touch more depth, and the ending should be longer and a little more satisfying. I mean, after saving the entire world, you need a little satisfaction. Amazing game play, decent enough storyline -BIGGEST PROBLEM- is the multiplayer on Xbox live is slow as all hell. 9.5 out of 10
  • HotSht95 - November 29, 2008 6:48 a.m.

    "bloated" hahahahahahahahahahahalololololololollolololololollololologhahhhhahahhahhahahahhahahhahahahhahhahhahahahhhahahahahahaahha
  • MadCowDisease - November 28, 2008 2:29 a.m.

    Bought it based from this review, and I enjoyed it very much. Thanks for the review GR.
  • oreomonkey - November 17, 2008 10:56 p.m.

    GEARS OF WAR SUCKS- COD ROCKS
  • thedemonmar - November 15, 2008 5:33 a.m.

    man this game is going to kick lots of a$$
  • Jbo87 - November 12, 2008 3:35 a.m.

    I can't believe the biggest complaint they had was that the game was too long..... what? My biggest issue was the huge number of needless vehicle sections - the tank, the reavers and the fact that the last half hour or so is riding around on a t-rex wannabee. Just let us run, duck and shoot sh*t, its what made Gears great and I would happily play 8 'bloated' hours of that.
  • HotSht95 - November 10, 2008 12:31 a.m.

    tim lemon i know i can still love its just the fact that they didnt give GoW2 a 10 even though they gave the 1st one a ten which they say its better than the orinial
  • HotSht95 - November 10, 2008 12:26 a.m.

    now that i have and have beaten this game i can safely say a big 10 even in the review you say its a better game i dont get this review at all i got it launch day and have not put it down since story is much longer and more fun horde is the most addicting thing since.......Gears 1 and even multiplayer is better. More weapons, enemys and all along better gameplay and variety this deserves a 10 U guys are out of my circle of trust for video game reviews
  • jokast - November 9, 2008 8:10 a.m.

    THIS GAME LOOK AWESOME, BUT I WIHS TO HAVE A PS3 TO PLAY ALSO RESISTENCE 2 THAT ONE LOOKS GREAT TOO
  • elementaly15loa - November 8, 2008 3:25 p.m.

    i cant play multiplayer because of a firewall being to strict and my game keeps freezing when i play with bots. How can i fix this?
  • Timothy_Lemon - November 7, 2008 8:37 p.m.

    spidey wos did kinda suck. all other reviews i read gave it 5/6 scores. maybe the guy who reviewed it was a major spidey fan. gears 2 is sick would of thought a ten but who really cares, 9 still means you should play it and love it.
  • nazarene - November 7, 2008 12:32 p.m.

    lol, no mutiplayer was mentioned... 9.9!
  • Princeton12 - November 7, 2008 1:24 a.m.

    Resistance vs Gears!
  • HotSht95 - November 7, 2008 12:50 a.m.

    so let me get this straight spider man WOS got an 8 and this only got a 10 so ur sayin this is only 1 point better god even halo got a ten maybe because its not bloated WTF hahahahahahhahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahhaahahhahahahahahhahhhahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahhahahhahahahahahahahahahahahhaahhahaha this is y i dont listen to game reviewers say u guys talk about shit real gamers wouldnt even care about and then how did GoW 1 get a 10 this has a longer story more enemies, guns horde mode more multiplayer modes i know i cant change this review but still y'all should think twice about given GoW2 a 9
  • iESCAPEx - November 6, 2008 9:08 p.m.

    WTF only a 9 ?!?!? it deserves a 10/10
  • MuffinMan - November 5, 2008 9:09 p.m.

    FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MUFFINS!!!!!!!!
  • Defguru7777 - November 5, 2008 1:29 a.m.

    Couple of complaints: 1. Where's the Horde/Multiplayer review. 2. You didn't even bring up Chainsaw Duels. 3. You didn't expand on the vehicle bits. 4. If it's anything like Fallout 3, this should have gotten a 10.
  • Donnagen - November 4, 2008 6 p.m.

    i have been reading a lot of your reviews in other publications! WTF is up with that (eg Fallout 3 in the PS3 magazine) are you owned by one corporation that shares all its reviews?
  • Bant - November 4, 2008 4:29 a.m.

    to*

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