I finally finished the single player story campaign for Gears of War 2. I did enjoy the experience but it wasn’t the revelation that the first Gears of War provided me. With Gears one, I saw the simplification of a shooter to the main stream audience. Taking away behaviors like jump and focusing on cover and shooting mechanics leveled the playing field and played differently than other popular products. Rather than simplification or innovation Gears 2 followed the bigger, badder, higher body count sequel formula with a healthy dose of doubling down on what people liked in Gears one.
SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT
What Gears 2 did right
- More Chainsaw – More variety and bosses where this excellent feature is required. Who doesn’t love the chainsaw!?
- Delivering on EVERYTHING in Gears – I don’t think there is a creature that you don’t encounter and kick the crap out of or play as that was in Gears one. The campaign starts strong with massive battles that go from Gears one skirmishes and scale up to actual war/battle encounters.
- Epic scale/scope – It felt like half the game was massive battles rather than just being a foot soldier. Being a Brumak or riding on Reaver’s was much better than riding on Gear hardware. The environments and combat zones followed what I call the “anti-claustrophobia rule” of art design. The more limited the play path, the more wide open the visual around the character. Gears one pulled this off but Gears 2 REALLY sells the vistas and cavernous interiors.
- Variety IS the spice of life – As mentioned before, the variety in this game is MUCH more than in Gears. From riding creatures to several unique boss fights and over 10 weapons in between means you are constantly toying with new death dealing methods.
- Cole…man I love that guys lines – The rest of the story I didn’t really care for (the Marcus/Father story line might bare fruit in the next game), but Cole is a constant fan pleaser. Every rant that Cole went on was delivered and written so well that it brought a smile to my face every time.
- Guns and Audio – For a shooter, these guys get every experience of firing a weapon to feel great. Audio and visual effects from gunfire are awesome. Overall the musical score is great as well, if not at a Halo level.
What Gears 2 got wrong
- Final Boss was too easy – I think they must have overreacted to the feedback that the final battle in Gears one was to hard. The ending in Gears 2 was a real let down since there is not really a conclusion based on your characters actions and the fight itself was incredibly easy.
- Heavy story telling – I applaud the attempt at both war drama story telling and a personal story arc with the characters in your squad and they ALMOST got the story together. I’m sure this is heavily a personal taste area for the story but I think they didn’t quite pull it off so the story felt awkward and grander than the delivery mechanisms. Gears is at its best as a first person meat grinder!
- Setting up for a sequel instead of delivering on the present – If you look at the story in gears it was a “follow the bomb” through a bunch of misadventures which borderlined on ridiculous in my opinion. Although I think Gears 2 improved on this, it pulls all of its punches by setting up for a showdown with the Locust queen and never delivers. BOO!
Breakdown vs. Commentary
After playing Gears, I didn’t really feel like breaking down anything in the sequel as a game design element. If anything I will return to the innovations in gears in a future post as I believe it brought more to the table.
Overall Gears 2 was a great epic adventure shooter that delivered much more of the same as gears. If you want your sequels bigger and badder this game delivers. However, if you are like me and want to be taken through a character progression in terms of skills and gameplay moments, the GOW acronym really rests with God Of War.
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