Horde: Gears of War 2's most exciting multiplayer addition

[This is just one part of this week's mammoth Gears 2 coverage. Make sure to hit this link to check out what we found when we played through 80% of the game's first act, and here for our exclusive interview with Cliff Bleszinski.]

If we're being honest, multi-player was the part of the Gears 2 preview day we were looking forward to the least. It's not that we didn't want to play it. But with a healthy fat wedge of brand new Gears of War campaign to play, the promise of getting back into the story after so long away from Sera over-rode everything else like a steamroller over egg shells. A steamroller with chainsaws on the front, driven by a very heavy fat man.

But oh, how wrong we were. We'll level with you right now, Gears Of War 2's new Horde mode is affrontingly addictive. It's one of those "It's so simple, why wasn't it done years ago?" ideas, taking the basic team deathmatch and putting all the players on one side against ever-increasing CPU odds. Imagine Smash TV trapped in the body of Marcus Fenix and you've pretty much got it. Your squad of five human players is dropped into a multiplayer map and given a few seconds to fan out and take position. Then a wave of Locust will come in from the edges of the arena and you'll take them out as a team.

And then the next, tougher wave will come in and you'll do the same again. Indefinitely, until you die. And then you'll hit "Continue" again and again until it's 3 A.M. and you can't focus on the screen any more.

It's the little nuances that do it. Rather than just getting tougher or increasing in number, each Locust wave evolves the way your team has to play and forces a fresh set of tactics. It'll start out innocently enough, with only a few grunts and maybe a couple of Boomers to deal with, but by the time Gears 2's new Locust start being thrown into the fray your crew will be thinking on their toes, rethinking their weaponry and replanning their tactics with every new configuration of opposition. It's exhilarating, requires total focus and adaptability, and doesn't let up for a second.

Then there's the way the game handles player death. Only one player has to survive through a wave in order to earn the entire team a respawn in the next round. As such, the sense of cameraderie is intoxicating, as dead players watch their sole remaining team-mate battle on against immense odds, screaming encouragement for his Arnie-style, one-man stand to meet with success and pull them all through. And the way that eliminated players can watch the match through wide-angled, controllable cameras or patrol the battlefield in a first-person "ghost" view means that the team is never really broken up. Dead comrades are always able to look out for new threats and yell tactical advice and advanced warnings to their man. Heroes can be made in every round of Horde, but it never happens without the help of their fallen squad.

There's also a cool new addition to the recovery process when a player gets knocked down. Now, rather than just waiting for rescue, downed players can make an attempt to (very slowly) crawl to cover. It makes death by nearby Locust foot a little less instant, but the blood trail you'll leave behind will clue in observant enemies on where to look.

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  • Lavek26 - October 22, 2008 11:17 p.m.

    It stinks that its so close to endwars release and fallouts release
  • username80 - October 22, 2008 3:49 p.m.

    cant wait cant wait cant wait aaaauuuuuuuuggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh
  • oryandymackie - October 18, 2008 1:42 p.m.

    I'll be 'avin some of that! Looks well good!!! Come Novembertime
  • birdofprey - October 3, 2008 6:51 a.m.

    My friend hated Gears 1 (too hard for him) But he is willing to try Gears 2 just for horde I'm willing to try Gears 2 because it's freaking awesome on every level
  • skilz216 - October 1, 2008 11:58 p.m.

    this game is taking too long to come out
  • timp123 - September 30, 2008 9:38 a.m.

    I really hope that this has 4 player split screen, that would be fkn awesome
  • littlesatan - September 29, 2008 5:54 p.m.

    looks amazing, id pre-order it now, but im w8in for Microsoft to pick up my broken 360, which i ordered to be collected over 2 weeks ago, man, they are slow.
  • TheSuburbiaRuins - September 29, 2008 4:08 p.m.

    I'm so excited, I've already paid for the game. November is to far away.
  • victorg360 - November 3, 2008 3:09 p.m.

    in 6 days im going to be playing this game YES!!!!!!!!
  • xanderbetke - November 3, 2008 11:10 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: Cheers
  • omegashot104 - October 23, 2008 2:03 a.m.

    This game is gonna be soooooooooo badd ass i cnt believe it comes out in 2 weeks omg i w8can hardly
  • Gotxxrock - October 6, 2008 10:43 p.m.

    I've always harbored some illogical resentment for Gears. They take SO much from the 40K universe; the Gothic atmosphere, the chainsaw bayonets, the ridiculously heavy power armor, and a long list of other things. This game might purge that little thought of contempt however. I would be lying if I didn't say I was excited =D
  • skyguy343 - October 4, 2008 11:51 p.m.

    ironically, no comment
  • chester_spartan - October 3, 2008 4:47 a.m.

    I would honestly take my ps3 and chuck it out of an air plane if I could have this game right now.
  • Eo1spy - September 30, 2008 10:46 p.m.

    This same Multiplayer mode was in UT2004. Just without Locusts.
  • Juriasu - September 30, 2008 10:21 a.m.

    SHIT YEAH!!!
  • crazyqazqaz - September 30, 2008 6:47 a.m.

    Awww man!! I can't get this because all I've got is a Wii, which I'm not complaining about, but I totally want this game. I completed Gears 1 at a friends house and that was amazing. Guess I'll just have to wait for him to get it, which he inevitably will once I tell him how good it's suposed to be.
  • gilligan2021 - September 30, 2008 6:37 a.m.

    i no. i saw the article and shot clue juice all over my laptop.
  • lewis42025 - September 30, 2008 3:21 a.m.

    i'd give all uv ur testicles....and sumones arm omg, im so freakin excited for this now
  • gilligan2021 - September 29, 2008 11:51 p.m.

    thats funny cuz I'd give your left testicle too.