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Gears of War 2 - Gears of War 2
So, is Gears of War 2 perfect? No, not quite. For one there's a bit too much reliance on vehicle sections for my liking. That's not to say that the vehicle dynamics are done badly, just that the game loses some of its immersive nature once you're driving a tank or flying a Reaver. And if I'm honest, the only times I found myself really frustrated by the game was when I was in a vehicle - I'm not sure who thought that driving a tank over a frozen lake while the enemy fires missiles at the ice would be fun, but I can assure them that it's not.
Then there's the slight over-reliance on cover dynamics, which was there in the first Gears. Put simply, if there's even a chance of a fire fight breaking out, there will always be a plentiful amount of cover to duck behind, something that I'm almost certain doesn't happen in a real war. In fact, it gets to the point that if you walk into a room and notice strategically placed blocks, you instantly know that you're about to be attacked.
And there's Skorge - the tough as nails, killer locust that appears to be the personal bodyguard of the Queen. He first makes an appearance at the end of the first act, and makes a definite impression. Unfortunately, when you do finally face him towards the end, it's something of an anticlimax - I won't explain why, because I don't want to spoil the story, but after the battle with Ramm at the end of the first game, I expected slightly more from Skorge.
But are these issues going to stop me playing through the campaign again on the higher difficulty levels? Not a chance! Gears of War 2 is one of the best games I've played in years, and even as I write this review I'm thinking about heading back into my living room and starting a new co-op campaign.
I'm sure that Epic has already been beavering away on the third game, and for me, it can't come too soon. I just wonder whether it will launch with a subtitle of "Saving Private Carmine" - if you've played both games, you'll know what I mean.
As sequels go, Gears of War 2 is up there with the best. In fact as games go, it's flying pretty high. Graphically it's in a league of its own, while the physics and AI are also first rate. Both the single player campaign and the generous multiplayer modes mean you'll be playing this one for some time. It may not have the depth of Fallout 3, the emotional involvement of Bioshock, or the epic grandeur of Fable II, but if you're looking for a pure adrenaline rush on a truly massive scale, there's nothing better.