Previews// Gears of War 2

Posted 29 Sep 2008 17:32 by
Once you’re savvy (or lucky) enough to take down an enemy, sometimes they'll start to crawl away in a ‘downed’ fashion.

Here’s where the violence itself gets more intimate, as you can choose to have some fun and lay the fisticuffs on the ugly bastard while he (or she) is trying to get away. Get close enough and each face button corresponds to a different finisher or action.

The most useful (and widely publicized) being the [A] button to lift your opponent up and use them as a meat shield while you grab their auto-pistol and go hell-for-leather on an incoming wave of Locust.

You won’t be invincible when laying the smack down though, so choose your personal vendettas wisely. If you fall, you can now crawl around to safety so a team-mate can help you back up. This is much more tension-fuelled than it sounds, when you have a Boomer running behind you trying to stomp on your head.

Weapons? Sure. You have new weapons to tear apart your foes with in Gears of War 2. I experienced: the Mortar, which was a long-range double-handed rocket launcher that rains explosives on faraway foe; the Mulcher, essentially a portable turret that can make mincemeat out of Locust; the Scorcher, a flamethrower that has some additional bonuses if you perform a perfect Active Reload; the Ink Grenade, that leaks noxious gases that eat at your health at close proximity.

There’s plenty of opportunity to use these weapons to the max, if the refined single player and co-op campaigns are anything to go by. I won’t spoil for you what happens throughout the first few Acts I played, but if you were impressed by the odd Brumak knocking down walls in the first Gears game, you’re going to be in for a treat.

More enemies on screen and in your vicinity at any one time means you have to play your game a bit more carefully and a bit more on edge.

The pace of Gears of War 2 is much tighter than its predecessor because of it. In the first game, you’d have a wave of enemies followed by some corridor exploration, followed by a smattering of foes and then repeat.

Gears 2 keeps the tension consistent and the action flowing continuously. You’re still doing the corridor pacing, but now you’re running from cover to cover just to make sure there’s not a surprise round the corner. If you’re not tackling a small army of Locust with hundreds of bullets flying past you, there’s near-constant communications from fellow squads and team-mates who are in trouble or keeping you alert. It really feels like this is humanity’s last stand and that it is now-or-never time.

Perhaps the most impressive moment during my play-test of the campaign mode was a segment where Marcus and Dom are riding a Seran tank convoy through the mountains, only to be greeted by a Sinkhole, with hundreds and hundreds of Locust charging out of it. Think of Sinkholes as massive Emergence Holes, so big that they’re capable of swallowing entire cities under the earth.
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