The Anti-Review: Gears of War 2

May 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

… but it’s not coming from me. A blogger by the name of Alexoid has posted a review of Gears of War 2, which, actually, mirrors some of my own issues I have around the game. I don’t agree with all of his points, but then I haven’t played the game the whole way through. What did strike me as familar are these two paragraphs:

Firstly, how can a game set in such immense scenery feel so constricted? Battles are restricted to small chunks of levels at a time, with a very limited amount of enemies appearing in a way that feels more like an 80s shoot’em-up than a next gen game. You walk past a door, it closes behind you. You cross a bridge, it collapses. You never, ever lose the feeling that you’re stuck to rails. Half-Life 2 was essentially linear but it made you forget it. This, on the other hand, feels like a collection of micro levels and you never feel in control. Maybe the novelty of the first game’s combat masked that now glaring problem.

Thirdly, fighting is repetitive. OK, we get that covering behind walls is this game’s big draw but there’s too much cutting and pasting going on here. A crumbling sreet? One car on the left, one car on the right, placed parallel to incoming forces in the distance. An underground cave? On boulder on the left, one on the right, perfectly aligned to the incoming forces. An enemy palace? You get the point. While Epic have tried to spice it up with some different situations (fighting from large moving tanks most notably) it’s all pretty samey and by the end of it you’re not really enjoying it but simply going through the motions.

I think it is absolutely true that the combat gets repetitive, but whether that’s a pro or con depends on how fun the combat is. For me, it is fun with a human buddy by your side; with an AI buddy, not so much. The other point I’d like to pick up is the lack of space which, at the same time, limits your tactical options. Funnily enough, the other thing I mentioned to my friend when talking about Gears of War 2 was how much better it would be if it were more like an MMO. Looking back, I’m not sure how well that would work, but my point was that the game would be miles better if the battlefields were larger. Think Dynasty Warriors with the Gears of War universe thrown in, a free-form co-op campaign and the same gameplay with added strategic commands (and maybe an RPG element?)

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