Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2
Gears of War 2 Cover
Platforms Xbox 360
Genre Shooter deja vu
MtAMinutes to Action 5
Keep Playing? Yes
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I was pretty impressed by the original Gears of War, it was totally cliche in every way but the gameplay was fun and it was decently challenging on the higher difficulties, plus it had online cooperative play. When Gears of War 2 first came out in late 2008, I played the first few levels of it with my brother-in-law, I would have first houred it right then and there if I had been playing alone, but it’s no fun for the other guy to take notes while playing (see Zombies Ate My Neighbors for a real life example of that).

But the opportunity has come again for me to formally play it, I don’t remember much so hopefully it will be a fresh experience all over again. For those unfamiliar, the Gears of War series is a third person, cover based shooter starring a bunch of football linebackers with giant guns and chainsaws. It’s bloody and nasty, but can be downright fun and a little frightening at times.

So here we go, the first hour of Gears of War 2, let’s see if it stacks up to the first hour of the original.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)

00 - I select Solo Campaign and the first hour of Gears of War 2 begins. Difficulties available are Casual, Normal, and Hardcore. There’s also a grayed out Insane mode. I hate it when difficulties are inaccessible at the beginning. Crappy way to encourage replay (though it did wonders on me for the original Mass Effect). The opening cutscene starts and the camera flies through a couple of battles narrated by a woman. The bad guys are a bunch of aliens, satellites are lasering stuff from space.

01 - Humanity thought they had won in the first game, but obviously that is not true since there are thousands of bad guys left, including some GIANT dudes. A good guy gets curb stomped and the Gears of War logo flashes by.

02 - Now we’re on a real-time cutscene, “Tip of the Spear - Welcome to Delta.” Marcus, our hero appears talking with some woman and Dom, his... partner. The woman’s name is Anya.

03 - Some new guys are joining Delta Squad, I get the option of training or no training and decide to go with training. Hey, the kid’s name is Carmine. I get control in some city streets. Marcus moves at about one mile per hour.

Gears of war 2 Marcus Fenix Closeup

04 - I pick up a newspaper and it says I've collected one of five.

05 - Marcus teaches the rookie to take cover, just tap A. Dom and Carmine discuss Carmine’s other four brothers. We do some target practice with the rifle and pistol on some bottles.

06 - Oh yeah, active reloading! That was always kind of cool in the first game, just press RB to start reloading, and then press it again at the right time to quickly finish reloading. If you miss... well, it takes like twice as long.

08 - We see a monkey-dog thinger and Carmine freaks out. Hopefully we’re hitting some action soon.

09 - I get some grenades and smoke a Wretch out, then we get bombed and I need to revive my teammates by pressing X on their crawling bodies.

11 - Just received 10 achievement points for finishing the training, not bad. Dom and I leave Carmine and head into the hospital. “Tip of the Spear - Desperation.”

Gears of war 2 Marcus tai Carmine

12 - We head through a door and some giant Somoan named Tai joins our group.

13 - Locusts are in the hospital! We’ve set up an ambush with some explosive tanks and I take out about 10 of them in one explosion!

15 - Finally, a real firefight! Locusts go down quickly and they’re horrible aim, well, it is the first level.

17 - Awesome, just grabbed a downed locust and used him as a meatshield to take a few more guys out, and then I snapped his neck!

19 - We head out into the courtyard and a Reaver appears, some multi-legged bad guy with a locust riding him. We shoot him a bit but then it jumps off again. Too bad. Back inside now.

22 - I cut a downed locust in half with my chainsaw. Satisfying! Apparently I should be using my grenades more often since there are so many available on the ground.

Gears of war 2 Marcus Locust Chainsaw

24 - The power goes out again and Marcus orders Jack, this invisible robot who flies around with us, to open a door.

25 - Ooh, chainsawing non-downed guys is just as fun. Jack opens the door and we stumble across Carmine, how did he get here?

26 - Oh dang, a marine gets headshotted right in front of me, I take his place. The flying monster appears again for a second, and then disappears. Again!

27 - The pistol’s bullets move slow enough to follow them with your eyes. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

30 - Haha, Carmine just curb stomped a locust. 10 achievement points for “It’s a Trap!” Our group runs on, Marcus says Carmine “did good.”

31 - Dom seems to think his wife was just released from the hospital, I guess he’s been looking for her? He’s pretty pissed off. Oooh, this game actually requires acting.

Gears of war 2 General Cutscene

32 - Another pre-rendered cutscene of a lot of human troops marching around and receiving a speech from some decorated dude. The humans have been fighting the locust for 15 years, ever since “E-Day.”

33 - The pre-rendered cutscene looks... bad. I guess I can see why they did it but it looks a bit out of place.

34 - Cutscene still going and the Gears of War 2 logo appears. A bunch of giant tanks are rumbling by and a ton of helicopters in the air. We’re going to take the fight to the locusts.

35 - The cutscene keeps showing civilians doing their thing, shouldn’t these guys be enlisted? Marcus meets up with some cowboy cog who leads the way into the human encampment.

36 - I get control on top of one of the giant tanks. “Tip of the Spear - Rolling Thunder.” We’re heading to Landown, I expect we’ll have company.

38 - And there they are! Mortars are landing among us, taking out helicopters on their way down. I jump on the tank’s turret but there’s nothing to shoot at, mortars come in too fast to shoot them down.

Gears of war 2 Marcus Riding Tank

39 - I take that back, their trajectories change to be in the air longer and now I’m forced to shoot them down stay alive. After a volley some reavers appear, those flying guys with locusts riding them.

42 - Our tank gets busted up so the cowboy guy goes to fix it, we have to defend him on the ground now against some locusts. Shouldn’t be too tough.

44 - Nope, not too bad, we head up onto the rig, and just when I’m running out of ammo! Our tank is just plowing through a forest of trees, hope that’s not a problem. “Tip of the Spear - The Big Push.”

45 - Awesome, about 100 bad guys climb out of a hole and I mow a ton down with the turret. Then a giant locust appears, like seriously giant. It’s called a Brumak! I guess we’re just running away from them!

47 - Apparently the locusts hijacked one of the tanks and now we’re on a face off to take them out. Ha, one of the locusts actually tries to get on the turret, I like their enthusiasm.

48 - Some locusts manage to grapple onto our tank, and we fight them off. Dom goes down for a second but he’s quick to revive.

49 - Our tanks approach a bridge and it’s a race for our two tanks to see who will cross it. After taking out the hijacking driver we make it there easily. Dang, I only have 50 bullets in my assault rifle.

Gears of war 2 Turret Burmak Landown

51 - Brumaks are attacking Landown, the turret chips away at their armor pretty well, better than not using my assault rifle because it’s out of ammo.

52 - Gears of War 2 just keeps upping the ante! Now a Corpser has appeared out of the ground, it’s bigger than the Brumak! I give it a mouthful of lead and it dives back down.

53 - A final Brumak appears right in front of us and we run it over, next up, “Tip of the Spear - Roadblocks.” Tai pulls himself out of some rubble and joins Delta Squad again. This Tai guy is very mystical about everything, very un-Gears-like.

54 - We’re in Landown now, we need to head to the center of town to do our drilling.

56 - Some tickers show their face, basically little locust landmines. We need to take them out so the tanks can move in.

58 - After the first round of tickers, everyone has a chat and then some more appear. Now we’re getting mortar bombed again by some floaty balloon dudes. Leave us alone, already!

60 - The final firefight of the first hour is a good one with the Cole Train coming to our rescue at the end!

Gears of war 2 Brumak Closeup

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 5

Gameplay: Pretty much an exact copy of the original so far, honestly can’t think of anything that felt new. This isn’t necessarily bad, but a sequel should evolve, and it should show off what’s new early on.

Fun Factor: Still pretty fun even if not much has changed, riding the tanks was an exciting sequence. I was surprised by all of the different events they managed to cram into that level.

Graphics and Sound: Looks great, but again, looks like the first one: gray and dreary. I don’t really know what they could have done without drastically altering the style of game, but I wouldn’t have minded if they had tried. The cutscenes also look pretty bad and out of place compared to the in-game graphics.

Story: More or less a continuation of the first, even though that one was resolved in the end, the locusts are still around and of course bigger and badder than ever. Whatever.

Would I Keep Playing? Yes, but mostly because I expect Gears of War 2 to be short and that it will be an enjoyable experience for the most part. I really hope they have some new features and gameplay elements though or else I’m going to be flaming from the mouth in my full review.