Combine teamwork and violence to win

Danny Andrews

Danny Andrews

Crouched behind minimal cover, hordes of vicious, scaly-skinned enemies bearing down and down to my last clip, I did what anyone with a chainsaw-bayonet-equipped machine gun would do; make ’em work for it.

Gears of War 2 slams itself into gamer psyches this holiday season with a new game that once again defines cooperative gaming experiences. Just as main character Marcus Fenix is never without his hetero life-mate Dominic Santiago, never should a gamer be without a trustworthy second controller.

The game once again revolves around the actions of Delta Squad. With the Locust Horde on the offensive, Marcus, Dom, Baird and Cole are once again thrust onto the front lines. The story incorporates mainstays of the science fiction realm: giant worms, mysterious superhuman enemies and big guns. It also adds some much-needed humanizing through Dom’s search for his wife, Maria, and hints of Marcus’ strained relationship with his military-hero father.

However, the final act seems rushed. The hulking, demonic boss turns into a painfully easy gunfight and short vehicle chase. While the story may use the best of science fiction staples, it falls prey to the clichés, as well. Why oh why did the Locust Queen have to be a voluptuous Maxim model look-alike?

Teamwork serves a major purpose; enemies will attempt flanking positions and can only be taken down by unloading half a dozen bullets into their surprisingly resilient bodies. With a friend, the enemies fall like dominos. Without, players are often left wondering where their computer-controlled support went.

If playing with one other person is exhilarating, then playing with seven other people is heavenly. The multiplayer deathmatch returns with several variants that spice up the action. The most notable are “Submission,” a type of capture-the-flag where the flag shoots back and “Wingman,” where small two-man teams vie for dominance. Nothing says teamwork like a coordinated curb stomp.

The shining gem for multiplayer is now “Horde” mode, where teams of five face ever increasingly powerful waves of enemies. With 50 waves, it’s easy to lose an hour fighting and fortifying your position against the Locust threat.

Gears may seem like it wants to be taken seriously, but don’t let it fool you. It’s all about the ride. It may have it’s missteps, but it takes them all in stride and gives one of the best gaming experiences of this year.

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