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Thursday, December 25, 2008

NanoGeekTech Special Report: Gears of War II Review

Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Designer: Cliff Bleszinski
Composer: Steve Jablonsky
Engine Unreal Engine 3 with PhysX
Native resolution 720p
Platform: Xbox 360
Release date: November 7, 2008
Genre: Third-person shooter
Tactical shooter
Mode: Single player, System Link, Multiplayer, Cooperative modes
Rating(s) BBFC: 18
Media DVD-9
Input methods Gamepad

From time to time NanoGeekTech will review Microsoft AAA Exclusives Games for the Xbox360. Today we are going to take a look at Xbox 360 multi-zillion dollar mega blockbuster Gear of War 2 the other "GOW"

Halo and Halo II help usher in the original Xbox and made it relevant in the console gaming world. It is my opinion that Gears of War has made the Xbox 360 a considerable foe for the almighty Sony Corporation. Gear of War debut to enormous fanfare, hype and rave reviews. GOW officially has helped put the Xbox 360 on the map with main stream media and troves on fanboies. This megaton of a game has solidify the Xbox 360 as a true and real threat to the gaming world as we know it.

Gears of War 2 begins with our heroes Marcus Fenix, Dominic "Dom" Santiago and Benjamin Carmine, and later joined by Augustus Cole planning to stage a final offensive against the Locust in their backyard.

Gears of War 2 has to be one of the best looking games on any system to date. Cliffy B has found the genie in a bottle with the marriage of the Unreal Engine 3 and the Xbox 360. It's pretty obvious that Cliffy B is the master of the Unreal Engine when tearing through hordes of Locust with a bloodied chainsaw. Most developers that attempt to utilize this engine has never reach the near perfection that Cliffy B was able to accomplish with Gears of War 2. That being said, Too Human is a tragic classic example of "when a good game engines go bad".

Gears of War 2 is a graphical powerhouse aka "Beast". Epic games was able to squeeze more juice into an already beautiful game. Many new techniques were use to beautify Gears of War 2. Epic added in-game lighting through ambient occlusion which enables more dynamic shadows to be rendered more realistically. The ability to render large crowds of Locust has now been included. Other notable enhancements would be the inclusion of destructible structures and objects along side with great improvements to rendering water. These new techniques slightly enhances Gears of War 2 gameplay.

Gears of War 2 Soundtrack was released on November 25th, 2008 under the record label Sumthing Else Music Works. The music in Gears of War 2 was composed by Steve Jablonsky. GOW2 soundtrack is not mindblowing in anyway in my opinion but it does fit the Gears of War univerise. Gears of War 2 does digital surround sound very well. Explosions can make your sub-woofer bark at times and the buzz of the chainsaw will make you feel like Paul Bunyan.

What has made Gears of War 2 such a great experience is how easy it is to pick up and play. Gears of War 2 is very much a casual shooter, anyone can pick up Gears of War 2 and begin their personal killing vendetta against the Locust. The controls feels the same as the original, nothing has been changed or removed. When using the cover system this time around you don't feel like you are sticking to everything around you. It's easier to remove yourself from a cover position. There is no real thought process involved in playing Gears of War 2 you run, use cover, shoot evil nasty bad Locust, throw a grenade or two, use some more cover and in between the mayhem switch between weapons.

All of your weapons of mass destruction has made it's way back into the game with the inclusion of a few new items. Your personal arsenal of chaos will compose of the Boomshot Grenade Launcher, Frag Grenade, Gnasher Shotgun, Gorgon Pistol, Hammerburst Assault Rifle, Hammer of Dawn, Lancer Assault Rifle, Long Shot Sniper Rifle, Ink Grenade,Snub Pistol, Torque Bow, Boltok Pistol, Troika Turret, Mortar, Mulcher and the Scorcher Flamethrower. My favorite weapon in the Gears Series is the Hammer of Dawn. The weapons used in GOW2 is nothing special, ts just slightly modified version of things we have seen before. Epic need to add an alternate fire options for all weapons to the Next Gears Of War. The weapons in GOW2 needs a little more imagination next time around espically the Locusts weapons. Gears of War can add more depth by slightly modifing all weapons and adding some new cool weapons.

Gears of War 2 has made a few new additions to online multiplayer. Gears of War 2 will allow up to ten players to play simultaneously. They are three new modes "Guardian", "Wingman" and "Submissions". Guardian is a modified version of "Assassination" from the original Gears of War. Wingman splits all ten players into five teams of two, where both members play as the same character. Submission aka" Meat Flag" is basically capture the flag with a players body being the flag. There is also a new co-op game mode called "Horde", this mode allows up to five players to fight off waves of attacking Locust together. As you destroy the attacking waves each new wave becomes more difficult as you progress.

Epic was able to re-tool the cameras in the multiplayer modes. The new Battle cam allows players to freely pan around any map as the camera focuses on the areas of intense fighting. The Ghost Cam allows a player to roam freely around a map. There is also the photo mode that allows you to take photos in multiplayer and upload it

Multiplayer is where many will get their money worth from Gears of War 2 and LIVE subscription. Epic was able to add just a pinch more content to make GOW2 online a little more interesting and appealing to die hard gear heads.

Gears of War 2 for the Microsoft Xbox 360 has help put Xbox 360 on the map and at the same time help establish a strong install base. Yes, Gears of War 2 is one of the best looking games on any platform, Yes, Gears of War 2 has sold millions of millions of copies, and Yes if you have a 360 Gears of War 2 is a game that you have to experience.

My problem with Gears of War 2 is that it felt like a great summer blockbuster movie with no plot or substance. Gears of War 2 reminds me of StarShip Troopers, awesome action, lots of blood and guts, and the F-bomb thrown around like a three foot midget in a midget throwing contest. But what Starship Troopers lacked, was average to good acting, story and character development. And for the most part Gear of War 2 lacks from all of the above. I am a graphic whore the better it looks the more my brain can appreciate it and at the same time comprehend it. But this generation has showed me that you can have a compelling story, good character development, and great acting alongside with uber super sexy graphics a classic example being "BioShock". For Gears of War not to fall into "The Halo Trap" the next Gears of War has to up the ante, and I do not mean bigger, badder, or bloodier. I want a little more sophistication with my blood and gore.

Gears of War 2 excels in the graphic department and is the best looking game on Microsoft Xbox 360 so far and ever.
I am a sucker for good sound and a glass of grand mariner liquor on the rocks with a splash of red bull.
Replay Value:A-
If you ever wanted to justified to your friend that owns a PS3 and plays online for FREE and you have to pay as low as $39.99 per years just pull out a copy of GOW2
Gear of War 2 is so easy a cave man can do it. If my wife can pick up a controller and blow some Locust knee caps off so can grandma.
Fun Factor: B+
Gears of War 2 is fun if you have never played the gears of War series you will be in for a treat. If you are a veteran of the series you may appreciate to new additions the multiplayer.
NanoGeekTech Overall Score: A
Gears of War 2 is clearly a great gaming experience with a few short comings but I can only blame that on Cliff B. This game is a reflection of Cliff B personality lots of fluff and no substance.

Should you buy Gears of War 2 or rent it: "Rent or Buy it you cannot go wrong. Gears of War 2 can be a great reason to consider purchasing a Microsoft 360 at the current prices. If you already own a PS3 and considering splurging on a cheap arcade 360 GOW2 is a great reason to consider it! "

What Bored me about Gear of War 2: "Its hard to get bored when playing GOW2 it is non-stop blood fest. If there is one thing I would change in Gears of War 2 would be the weapons, your killing apparatus could have been more imaginative. The single player campaign can be rather quick if played with a friend. Is Gears of War 2 worth trading in your Sony PS3 for a Xbox 360 and a copy of Do not let the hype fool you."


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