Sunday, January 04, 2009

Gears of War 2 Completed for the 3rd Time

I originally didn't plan on playing through Gears of War 2 for a third time this soon after completing my last play through, but a friend of mine on Xbox LIVE invited me to a Co-Op game, and I popped in as Dom and we battled the Locust Horde on Insane Difficulty. It took us about three days with gaming sessions of various lengths, but we finally completed the game.

Unlike Insane in Gears of War, the sequel's Insane difficulty really is nuts. It was hard! It was certainly fun and satisfying when the tactics and teamwork my friend and I were employing defeated a tough challenge, but it was also equally frustrating when one of us or both of us would die, and the inferior Checkpoint system would toss us a battle or so back.

Replaying the same sequences over, and over, and over again became real tedious and an exercise in frustration, though at least this only happened on several occasions.

It was great fun and an excellent experience this time around to really try out the Co-Op Campaign, to see what Epic Games designed right and what could be improved upon.

The use of team work was essential throughout, and this simply fostered good natured communication between both parties. This was especially true in the vehicle sequences where one person drove and the other operated the turrets. I was also fascinated to see how difficulty levels came into play.

In Gears of War 2, one player can be playing on one difficulty, while another plays on a different difficulty. When I first joined my friend about half-way through Act I, he was on Insane and I was on Hardcore, which helped make things a little easier for him. On our next play session, we both were playing on Insane for the duration of the Campaign, and then we went back to the beginning where I played on Insane and he on Casual simply so I could collect the Achievement.

This difficulty mixing is an excellent feature and kudos to Epic Games for implementing it, as it really allows two players of different skill levels to play the exact same game with one another and to have a great time.

Unfortunately, during this Co-Op experience, I also got to see what Epic Games did poorly. There were a lot of online glitches, including odd enemy placement, clipping issues, sync issues, and an annoying bug in the Act III vehicle sequence where every time we'd die, I'd often have to keep jamming on Right Trigger to rejoin the game after play resumed.

I also found individual death really annoying, and a great pacing killer. If I died, for example, but my friend was fine, we'd still be stuck loading the last Checkpoint. I personally found this ridiculous as it forced a tedious exercise upon us, and I believe Gears of War 2 would have greatly benefited from a re-spawning system; especially on those sections where you're forced to split up and can't properly help one another.

Still, overall, it was a great experience and loads of fun, and the banter my friend and I had over the plot's many conveniences (or lack-thereof) and plot holes made it all the more enjoyable. I highly recommend playing through Gears of War 2's Co-Op campaign with a good buddy. It's an excellent shooter and the teamwork certainly brings a great new dimension to the game play.

Now if only Epic Games could implement a real save system...

No comments: