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Gears Of War 2!

The most anticipated game of the year has finally arrived, but will Gears of War 2 (the sequel to one of the most popular Xbox 360 multiplayer games) be able to one up the original?

First Impressions: Whenever possible, we try to give our loyal website viewers the most video footage and most in depth unbiased reviews imaginable. Part of that development is our "initial impressions" where we offer up our first impressions of the title that we are playing.

This gives our website visitors more of clear understanding of what to first expect out of the game when they initially pop it into their consoles.

If you scroll to the bottom of the page in the Rent vs. Buy section of the review and do not see the "final impressions" assessment then it's safe to say that you are reading our initial impression of the game. Once the final impression is up, there will be no further video or review done to that particular title.

Final Impressions: The final impression is just that, our completed breakdown and overall thoughts on the game based off of our entire game playing time.

You can locate the final impressions assessment in the "Rent vs. Buy" section of the review (always located at the very end of all of our reviews). Here you will be able to read our final thoughts on the title and also see any potential grade changes that were made to the game as well (higher or lower). Should a grading change occur, it will be clearly noted with the previous grade, the new grade, and why the change occurred.

Although this approach is more time consuming and requires many more man hours, our entire goal has always been to provide the best and completely unbiased reviews possible and we feel that the inclusion of the Initial Impressions and Final Impressions sections will give you a better view of what to expect from a new game.

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It Never Ends: This time around the storyline in Gears of War 2 is vastly improved in a number of ways. Gears of War 2 takes place roughly 6 months after the events that ended the first game, with the Lightbomb eliminating many of the Locus Hordes numbers and signaling a great victory for the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COGs).

The Lightbomb did not end the war as hoped though, and the Locust only grew stronger and increased their numbers massively. After the Locust recovered from the COG attack, they struck with more force then ever.

They began to sink entire cities and launched a massive assault at anything left standing. When Jacinto Plateau (a military base protected by solid Granite and the last remaining safe haven from the Locust) becomes at risk, the remaining military forces go from prey to predator and launch a final attack on the Locust.

The COGs are driven into the underground tunnels where the Locust breed and build their numbers and attack them at their heart in one final stand.

Along with the storyline following the COG attack, there is also a parallel tale shining light on Dominic Santiago's (Marcus's partner and longtime friend) journey to find out the whereabouts of his family.

The plot this time around takes a much more serious approach, with the story touching on many aspects like hope, survival, death and others that help you get very engrossed into the game.

You will not be able to imagine some of the twists or turns that the story takes as you progress through the game.

The Golden Rule: The gameplay Gears 2 employs is similar to that which was featured in the original Gears of War. The gameplay revolves around using any means of cover possible and playing the game in a more strategic manor then many other shooters.

The game stresses the Gears of War golden rule: cover or die, but does so in an interesting way. Using cover and hiding behind anything from wheelchairs to tombstones is intense and does not stop the flow of the action at all.

Carrying over from the original Gears of War is the intense action and fast pace of the game. You will be moving from makeshift cover to makeshift cover at all times, all the while firing away at anything that moves.

There are also a few new battlefield tactics that can provide near instant cover or simply some satisfying kills.

New to the game is the ability to down an opponent and take him as a portable body shield. Your captured enemy will save you from taking a lot of damage, though as your body shield takes damage you will be able to see him tear apart and eventually crumble in your arms.

You will also be able to use one of 11 special executions on your downed Locust enemy. When you activate one of these executions you will be seen devastating your foe with a variety of brutal maneuvers. From punching his face in, to pistol whipping it to death and even beating it into a bloody pulp with gun-turned-baseball bat.

It is very easy to get immensely engrossed and sucked into the game for hours on end.

Beauty Amongst Destruction: The environments and graphical perfection showcased in Gears of War 2 are absolutely mind blowing and will shock you with their realism and beauty.

You will do battle in a variety of places, most of them being outdoor as opposed to the mostly interior battlegrounds featured in the original Gears of War. From vast snowy mountains, to courtyards, and graveyards, your environments are varied and uniquely different.

Your surroundings are truly interesting and the various objects littered throughout them pose as varied means of cover.

Gears of War 2 is a significant step up visually from the original and you will be able to see amazingly realistic and detailed milieus that push the limits of the Xbox 360.

In addition to the outstanding visuals, you will also be treated to phenomenal voice acting and sound effects.

The entire cast of the Gears of War returns for the sequel, providing you with familiar voices and characters. The voice acting is superb is not topped by any other game currently available; you will be hard pressed to find better voice acting then that in Gears of War 2.

The common sounds of the battlefields are also very impressive. You will hear everything from battle cries from your subterranean enemies, to the sounds of many different armaments. Everything fits the atmosphere of the game and helps you get quickly immersed in the game.

What's A COG Without Guns: You will have a massive variety of weapons with which to eliminate your enemies with, some of them returning, some new, and some simply reworked.

You will be using a standard issue Lancer Assault rifle most of the time, which is a rapid fire weapon that has the ability to provide a good balance of accuracy and power. What makes this gun unique is the chainsaw mounted on the bottom of the firearm. The chainsaw bayonet can be driven through or into your enemies at close range, providing a bloody and satisfying instant death that most Locusts cannot stand up to.

On the other hand, you will also be able to use the Hammerburst rifle, which is the standard issue weapon for Locust soldiers. The Hammerburst provides more power, but decreased accuracy.

Along with those weapons, you will also have a variety of reworked and new weapons that include the Torque Bow, the Gorgon Pistol, the Boomer, and even heavy weapons such as Mortars ad portable turrets.

There is a massive amount of variety in the weapons department, allowing you to choose a weapon according to the situation and unique play style.

Double Threat: Gears of War 2 features a co-op mode that gives you a few options on which way you want to play together with other people.

The common local and online co-op modes return to Gears 2, allowing you to play through the entire campaign with a friend. The co-op modes are improved this time around, letting anyone join or leave your game without any interruptions. If your teammate had to bail mid-game, you will not even notice he is gone. The game will continue without a hitch.

A new cooperative mode is called Horde, and is a completely unique take on the classic co-op gameplay. In Horde you and 4 other players will fight against waves of enemy Locust.

The Locust in Horde will swarm you, and this mode requires teamwork and communication at all times. When you start the mode and assemble your team, your enemies will be simple Locust Drones, (basic grunts) but as you progress through the massive 50 levels of Horde, your enemies will become smarter, stronger and more ruthless.

In the later levels everything the game encompasses will be thrown at you! This means you can expect to do battle against massive grenade launcher wielding Boomers, cleaver handling Butchers, and even several massive Brumaks who make numerous appearances in Gears 2...at all the same time!

The Horde mode is very enjoyable and it is easy for the matches to get extremely fast paced and intense. It is easy to get engrossed for hours struggling against the vicious onslaught of Locust.

Why Mess With Success: Gears of War 2 brings a multiplayer mode that is expected to be amazing and at least as enjoyable as the original's competitive multiplayer. Unfortunately, this time around the game falls a little short.

When you opt to play online, you will be sent into a lobby that is not unlike Call of Duty 4's where you can choose your preferred mode of play. You will be able to choose from the classics such as Execution, Warzone, and Annex, but will also have the choice of picking from a couple new modes such as Submission, King of the Hill and others.

The classic modes remain identical to those seen in the original Gears, and they also remain enjoyable and familiar. Most of the new gameplay modes are quite enjoyable, though a couple are a bit worse then the classics.

The King of the Hill mode (a single ring version of Annex) and Wingman modes are very enjoyable and fit right into the Gears of War 2 gameplay, though Guardian (a reworking of Assassination) and Submission tend to stay off of your playlist.

Submission has two teams battling for control of a smelly hobo in the middle of the map. The first team to capture and hold the hobo will win the round. Even though the mode is meant to entice combat, the matches end up being absolute chaos...and not in a good way.

Guardian is a bit too similar to the original Assassination and doesn't seem to fit in the multiplayer mode. The mode simply doesn't feel right, as most of the others do.

In addition, too many of the new maps are not welcome, as they seem built for ranged attackers. From Day One to Avalanche, ranged assailants can easily dominate those maps, leaving many up-close and personal players getting destroyed.

The multiplayer in Gears of War 2 is very similar to that played in the original, though some bad modes and some bad maps may leave a bad taste in your mouth. The multiplayer still feels familiar though and is (for the most part) a highly enjoyable gameplay mode, assuming you stay away from the occasional multiplayer damper.

Rent vs. Buy: Gears of War 2 is a phenomenal game and is one of the best titles the team at Krarabbit has ever played. It easily tops the original in nearly everyway, which is not an easy task.

The intense and visceral gameplay, flawless cover system, shocking realism, awe-inspiring visuals, outstanding voice acting, addictive Horde mode, and familiar multiplayer make Gears of War 2 virtually flawless in everyway.

Gears of War 2 is a must buy for anyone and everyone with an Xbox 360. Fans of shooters or not, you will love the game.

Report Card

The intense and visceral gameplay, flawless cover system, shocking realism, awe-inspiring visuals, outstanding voice acting, addictive Horde mode, and familiar multiplayer make Gears of War 2 virtually flawless in everyway. Gears of War 2 is a must buy for anyone and everyone with an Xbox 360. Fans of shooters or not, you will love the game. (Krakrabbit.com)


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