Gears of War 2’s biggest surprises

Earning Achievements is addictive

The best Achievements make you replay and experiment with a game, even after the final cutscene has ended. The first Gears, for example, guaranteed that everyone would try playing Dom in co-op at least once. The second Gears of War runs with that idea, using Achievements to create a constant minigame within the bigger game.

Roast a baddie with the flamethrower and you won’t earn a reward, but a popup will inform you that you’re a step closer to “Smells Like Victory” (kill 30 enemies with the flamethrower) and “Variety is the Spice of Life” (kill using all 15 weapons). The “Seriously 2.0” Achievement, meanwhile tracks your slow but steady progress towards 100,000 total kills in single player, co-op and multiplayer combined. Will we ever reach that magical number? Probably not, but knowing we annihilated almost 2,000 Locust in a single day is still a neat bit of trivia.

Oh, and the points are better distributed this time around, too. Beating the original on Insane, in co-op, with every tag collected, would only net you about 600. We earned over 300 playing alone, on Normal, with tons of collectibles left behind. An encouraging sign for Achievement whores.

Collecting “tags” is addictive

Why? Because the hidden items scattered across Gears of War 2 are no longer tags. They’re “war journals,” and they’re crucial to filling in the corners of the game’s universe.

You’ll find faded newspapers, with articles about Emergence Day and the soaring price of imulsion. You’ll find ambulance logs, detailing the symptoms of a gruesome new disease, and doctor’s notes, pinpointing the previous game’s lightmass explosion as a probable cause. You’ll find cryptic Locust artifacts and calendars, sarcastically translated by Baird.

Although a few of the 41 war journals are still COG tags from fallen soldiers, they now come with letters and notes from the battlefield, written to worried family back home. You learn their names and read their thoughts. Each collectible now has a story.

Remember the “Mad World” trailer?

You know, the original Gears tease set to that song from Donnie Darko? Where Marcus is hiding in the dark and, suddenly, a glowing constellation of lights emerge at him out of the pitch blackness? And, right before the trailer ends, we realize that the lights are eyes? Big, scary, about-to-kill-Marcus monster eyes?

That actually happens in Gears of War 2, only multiplied by three.

Yes, after the awesomely horrible (or is that horribly awesome?) rap debut from the first game, someone decided that giving Augustus Cole another spotlight would be a good idea. If you want to know exactly what he does with that microphone, however, you’ll just have to wait until Friday.

Dizzy’s really not that annoying

No, really. He’s okay.

Nov 4, 2008

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Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!