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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Microsoft Game Studios

 

Developer

Epic Games

 

ETA

November 2008

 

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Gears of War 2

 

gears of war 2          gears of war 2

 

Any title that sells a multimillion number of copies practically guarantees that it will spawn a sequel so it's no surprise that Gears of War 2 is on the offing for a Fall 2008 release.

 

Cliffy B, Lead Designer at designer at Epic Games, describes Gears of War 2 as "bigger, better, and more bad-ass." And on paper this might be actually be an accurate summation and not just a marketing catchphrase. It has new cover options, like using your foes as shields ("meat shields" to use the vernacular), co-op settings that will allow you and your buddy to play on different difficulty

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settings, new finishing moves that seem to be weapon dependent, chainsaw duels, an assortment of new weapons including a flamethrower and the Locust Burst Pistol, and an impressive "new" version of the Unreal Engine powering the whole thing.

 

Based on a tech demo given by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney at this years Game Developers Conference, Gears of 

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War 2 will look even better than the original and sport features like destructible (or at least "damageable") environments and some very pretty looking water. In the time since Gears of War's initial release Epic has also worked on allowing more enemies to be onscreen during the action. In the first game, if an emergence hole suddenly appeared it wasn't too much of a threat because it's not like the Locust horde would pour out of it. At any one time you might be facing six enemies at any one time with extra Locust targets coming up to replace them. During the tech demo one hundred Locust soldiers were shown running through a section of a level without any strange-looking clipping or slow-down problems. If this is a sign of things to come, it means that when an emergence hole appears players will want to get them closed off quickly rather than face a stream of Locust soldiers.

 

gears of war 2          gears of war 2

 

The single-player (or co-op) story mode picks up a half a year after the events seen in Gears of War, when the Lightmass Bomb was delivered with explosive results and, apparently, some unforeseen health problems. It seems that since then, the human population has been fighting off the effects of "Rust Lung", which sounds a lot like really bad smoke inhalation. Players again assume the role of Marcus Fenix, this time with the purpose of, surprise!, wiping out the surviving Locust before they dig big holes for the remaining human population to fall into, with the help of Cole, Baird, and Dominic, who is still looking for his wife. If you played the original you'll know there isn't much story to deal with between shouting expletives, taking cover and chainsawing dudes in half and if one of the credited writers, Josh Ortega, is to be believed - "The stakes are raised. This is humanity's last stand. Everything is at risk. Nothing is safe." - you're still safe thinking there's not a lot going on here in terms of a riveting plot. What has been shown of the single player is completely reminiscent of the original - action, action, action. And it seems to be on an even larger scale.

 

gears of war 2          gears of war 2

 

Fans of the multiplayer should be happy with what Epic is planning. There are three new modes: Guardian (a variation of the old Assassination mode), Wingman (you and buddy versus everyone else), and Meatflag. Of the three Meatflag has my attention. Essentially it's Capture the Flag with the difference that this "flag" - a human - doesn't want to be captured and will fire on anyone that approaches. You have to down the "flag" before he can be captured by way of the new "meatshield" feature and dragged back to your capture point. It's a neat variation but my hope is that they give more power to the flag, give him the ability to wriggle free, give him a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush, that would be cool.

 

gears of war 2          gears of war 2

 

Some of the new weapons and tweaks to old weapons have many applications during a multiplayer match. Grenades come in even more flavors this time around, including a poison grenade which spews toxic fumes over a wide area. More impressive are that extra functionality of the frag and smoke grenades. Both can be stuck to walls and floors. If this is done with a frag grenade you have a proximity grenade - it's kind of surprise that people running around corners just hate. With the smoke grenade, it explodes to create a stun effect that should allow users to run in for an easy curbstomp. Lastly, taking a cue from Halo 3 - and not just the new match making system - Gears of War 2 will also include a portable shield, which opens the game for all kinds of brutal push-pull action across the battlefield.

 

Hitting the release date of November 2008 - two years since the original game - seems extremely likely at this point and even though it will launch in the busiest time of year for video games it will likely live up to expectations but we'll be able to offer more insight on that once we get some hands-on time at E3 this year.

 

- Omni

(July 2, 2008)

 

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