Previews// Gears of War 2

Posted 29 Sep 2008 17:32 by
New characters add a few more dimensions to the story, with a tribal guy named Tai helping you out every so often. There is also an old engineer called Dizzy who joins your convoy mission. I will also mention huge new boss creatures thrown in to test your patience.

I was treated to a Scourge, which is essentially a huge Locust dressed up in some sort of Samurai-style gear. When my play-test ended, I saw this beast rip a huge tank in half with its rather thin blade.

I had a lot of fun getting re-acquainted with Fenix and company, as you can probably tell. Epic has wisely decided not to screw with what’s working in the Gears series to date and instead enhance the experience with some well thought-out concepts to make play a little less laborious.

One of these ideas is Achievement Tracking, which enables you to keep track of how far you have left to go to earn more gamer points without having to press your guide button every five seconds. This is achieved by way of a ticker that appears on the right-hand side of the screen.

Also of note is the ability to play a co-op campaign with a friend on different difficulty settings. The plan being to allow skilled gamers the chance to play with less experienced friends. I was told that the differences are in the fire-power and defence of each player rather than fewer or greater enemy numbers. Let us all pray that this can socialise the more, well, bloody obnoxious online gamers into shutting up and playing.

No doubt the greatest addition I saw to Gears of War 2 is a new online co-op mode called Horde. Cliff Bleszinski likened the affair to Gears mashed with Smash TV. It sees a group of five friends battle wave after wave of enemies in a confined arena. There are 50 waves to get through, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but we only got to Wave 17 after an hour and a half of play.

Every ten waves the enemies gets stronger and more intelligent and you continue through until every player is defeated – it gets quite mental as you get flanked several times, sneaked up on and smacked by cheeky Locust creatures. Seeing your mate crawl towards you asking for assistance when you can see that Boomer charging behind him presents some serious decision making – let your friend become a squishy mess or save him and get squished yourself.

With Gears of War 2, Epic really wants to expand the audience of its shooter. The improved premise and the lure of a more engaging storyline is certainly welcome, but I'm not sure that will translate to more casual gamers
playing online.

Regardless, the small but significant number of updates to the game-play and modes will get fans of the Fenix to jump in and enjoy a more polished sequel. Horde will most likely keep the online side of things going for a very long time after its release. It’s addictive stuff, mark my words.

Gears of War 2 is due for release on 7th November.
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