Developer(s) – Epic Games
Publisher(s) – Microsoft Game Studios
Producer – Rod Ferguson
Designer(s) – Cliff Bleszinski, Lee Perry, Dave Nash & Jim Brown
Released two years after the astoundingly successful first game in the series, Gears of War 2 gained similar critical and commercial acclaim, attaining perfect scores from more than one gaming website, and had sold over 5 million copies worldwide by the end of 2009. However, whilst I don’t think this game is bad by any means, I don’t share quite the same level of enthusiasm about the sequel as many other reviewers did upon the game’s release, and I think the developers could have done more with the $12,000,000 budget rather than invest the majority of it in the game’s visuals.
Graphics – 9/10
Among the best-looking Xbox 360 games at the time, the visuals are technically astounding, and there is even more diversity in conceptual design than in the previous game, with some stages taking place in such locations as underground caves, Locust strongholds, and even in the stomach of a huge monster called a Riftworm. There is even also a new hostile species introduced in the second game called the Lambent, which offer even more basis in visual diversity.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
The gameplay in the second instalment is incredibly intense as well as satisfying; it’s pretty much like an extension of the first game in this respect. A third-person shooter, the objective is to simply get from point A to point B and waste every single enemy in sight. The problem I have with it, however, as is indeed the main grip I have about the entire game, is that there is no real innovation made in terms of gameplay to keep the over series fresh enough. It plays out more or less identical to the first game, and there aren’t really any new features for me to be able to call it as worthy a sequel as it perhaps could have been.
Controls – 10/10
Gears of War was one of the first third-person shooters I ever played that had a nigh on perfected control scheme, following the many games in the genre that were released during the sixth generation, but had very primitive control schemes, since the genre was in a period of relevant infancy. Thankfully, Epic Game didn’t try anything overly ambitious with the control scheme they already had, and chose to stick with the basic fundamentals of the first game.
Lifespan – 5.5/10
The second game lasts only about as long as the first, at around 5 to 6 hours, and I cant help but feel that if the developers had decided to put more into the gameplay to keep the series fresh, than they could have in turn made the second game to last even a little bit longer than it did. It could be argued that replay value can be had in going back and doing the collectibles side quest, but there isn’t much incentive within the game for doing so, and unless online multiplayer were to appeal to fans, which only does for a limited amount of time with any one game anyway, it can feel quite disappointing.
Storyline – 9/10
One advantage that the second game has over the first is that there is a much more in-depth narrative. The story follows the newly promoted Sergeant Marcus Fenix, as the COG army prepares to launch an assault against their warring enemies, the Locust. At the same time, Marcus’ closest comrade, Dom Santiago, is currently resolving to find his missing wife Maria, which also plays a very prominent role in the story, and serves as a catalyst for many of the game’s plot developments throughout.
Originality – 3/10
As I pointed out before, though the second game is almost as enjoyable to play as the first game, that’s all it is in terms of originality. The typical fashion in which a sequel is normally developed is for it to be made bigger and better than the original, and whilst playing, I was left with the impression that the second game was tailored to be neither bigger nor better, but to simply look sharper than the original game, and to have a better story. . And whilst they can both be seen as two positive departures from the first Gears of War, I was given the impression that the developers had forgotten the most important aspect to have been modified on; the gameplay.
In summation, Gears of War 2, despite it’s lack of innovation and in-depth modification of the original gameplay formula, still plays out identically to one of my favourite games of all time, and is most definitely worth playing through once. The graphics were top-notch for the time, and the story is extremely compelling for a game revolved around excessive masculinity and big guns. I just wish that more could have been added in terms of gameplay, which could possibly have made it a better game than it’s predecessor, since my level of anticipation was inevitably hyped up before the game’s release.