We've detailed the new weapons and enemies in our campaign preview, but it was only in Horde that we really got a feel for just how fundamentally both sets of additions enrich Gears of War 2. For example, right in the middle of a sound beating during a heavy fire-fight, we suddenly spotted a free Mulcher in the middle of the flak. As one of our team made a desperate recovery mission to pick up the potential tide-turner, two others ran out of their cover at the back to provide suppressive fire, giving our plucky weapon-stealer a chance to make it back alive under the slowing weight of the new gun. Sheltering his return with a hail of bullets, the wing-men provided staunch back-up as our hero clumped his way up to a sheltered sniping ledge in order to start clearing up the clogged battlefield.
Or there was the time things suddenly became complicated by the appearance of a couple of those mace-swinging trolls we've mentioned, immediately putting us on the defensive as we all eschewed the infantry and fell back to the shelter of a barn, before opening up every long-range weapon we had in an attempt to take them down before they could get close. Despite our best efforts, one slipped through and started tearing us to pieces in our tightly-packed hidey-hole. Shotguns and flame-throwers came out, but to no avail. We were hammered to death in no time.
Or how about when a couple of Kantus Healers turned up to the party and started undoing all our hard work by reviving their fallen Locust brothers across the battlefield? Our ground troops rushed in to re-deaden our previously-killed quarry. Our two second-floor snipers got to work softening up the Kantus from their hiding spots at the back of the map, taking it in turns to run down and revive striken comrades between reloads while scouring the streets for a mortar with which to make the job easier.
Tasks and roles constantly shift during Horde as each new enemy combination changes the face of battle. Without playing it, it would be easy to write off as a simple team deathmatch with bots, but in reality, the feel is very different. The constant "one-more-go" factor brought about by the progressively difficult waves is infectious. You'll continue and continue as each seemingly unbeatable Locust squad becomes a bitter rival, the growing grudge making your team ever-more determined to beat it. And once you have, you won't be able to resist taking on the next, more difficult set of opposition, always needing just one more victory for the glory of your squad. Horde becomes a matter of collective pride as your team becomes ever-more strongly bonded as a fighting force.
And given how quickly the challenge builds, there look to be enough battles here to keep you going for a very long time. We managed to get to around wave twelve during our day playing the game. Cliff Bleszinski admitted that he's only made it to wave twenty-seven. The test-team have got to wave fifty. Given what we went up against, we can only imagine that that level of play must start with the whole team being spawned inside a Brumack's mouth. And after a day of the glorious, bloody cameraderie of Horde, to that we can only say "Bring it on". Because that is indeed, our kind of sh*t.