Developer Epic has stayed the course and avoided doing what a lot of developers do: change what makes an original work so well. With this sequel, they kept the fundamental game play experience the same, except for a few changes and refinements. In other words, players won't feel like they have been short changed with a sequel that has come much more quickly than say, a Halo title. What made the first game so great is back for the sequel. The cover system is what really makes both Gears of War games. If you try to run and gun your way through levels, you will die a quick death. The flow of action in each level is smooth and some games try to make tension and build up, Gears of War 2 is all about constant and savage battle. The only major addition to the formula is the ability to take a hostage and use them as a bullet-eating shield. Gears 2 also brings larger and more varied set pieces. The increased numbers of foes never overwhelm the intimate guerrilla combat style and this also separates Gears 2 from games like Halo and Call of Duty.
The multi-player feature in the original Gears was just a tag on and a little bonus meat for players. Gears 2 does a 180, making multi-player the star of the show. With all the changes and tweaks done for the sequel, the multi-player comes off more like the single-player mode where using teamwork is important and gamers wanting more than just a single experience won't be disappointed. However, for a game that's aiming for shock and awe, at the end of the day Gears 2 feels like more of the same. Even with all the changes and new content, the game just doesn't have that intangible "cool factor" that the first one did. Gears of War turned out to be much more than expected where the sequel delivered exactly what was expected.
It's obvious that the developers tried to improve the storyline, but it still falls short. They tried to establish a more emotional connection to the main characters but fall short. The characters of Marcus, Dom and the new recruits come across as caricatures, and no matter how much I play, I still don't care what happens to them. Just like the first game, Gears 2 looks fantastic. The music is also epic and is of movie quality. The dialog, however, is lacking and has the effect of breaking the spell.
Depending on how you look at it, Gears of War isn't quite a groundbreaking game like the first one, but it's still a great third-person shooter. Halo 3 sold a great many Xbox 360 systems, but the Gears of War franchise is keeping them playing and one should expect many sequels to come. As for this particular sequel, is it more of the same? Or is it a great game? Well, the fun part is that you get to play and decide.Gears of War 2 ★★★✩
Rated: M for Mature. Platform: Xbox 360. Retail: $59.99