Lucky for us we got to sit down at RAGE and get in some good time with the most anticipated title for the Xbox 360 this holiday. After a solid hour or so of multiplayer, it was obvious Epic Games were not just resting on their success with Gears 1.
Firstly there’s a graphical improvement, taking into account the code we played was the same shown back at E3, the visuals are a lot sharper overall and the textures have a better resolution, the brightness did seem a bit high but I believe that was due to the fact that we were indoors at a trade show after all. The sound was even more impressive, all the weapons now have a real punch to them when you when you pull the trigger, the shotgun is more meaty, the lancer sounds capable of ripping flesh away and the sniper has a sound that a cannon may be jealous of.
There were 3 levels available in multiplayer and three modes, annex, warzone, execution and submission or as its better know, “meat flag”. Here’s a quick breakdown of the levels.
Gridlock 2.0 is essentially the same as the gridlock we all love, but with a complete graphical overhaul, walls are starting to crumble, grass and weeds have forced their way through the asphalt, and moss has grown over the cars and barricades that litter the level. It feels and looks a lot more organic and brings some colour into the rather brown and grey world we are used to in Gears.
Security seems like a war camp of sorts, it’s surrounded by laser fences and security turrets. Players must first deactivate the lethal defences before making a dash for the weaponry in either wing of the arena. It’s a great map for annex because of the interactivity.
River is a symmetrical map featuring a house and a sniper tower separated by a river, there’s multiple options leaving spawn, to either cross the bridge or go into the water, or head for the sniper towers. The map seems a lot larger than it actually is but does a good job of bottlenecking everyone at the river. Its also apparent on this map Epic have put a lot of work into their water as its much better than it was in Gears 1.
So now down to the meat, how does it play?
Well it is different, but a good different, the build we played was the code from E3 so is in no way complete, so I expect the occasional glitch and so on. Firstly its a lot slower, the days of the run and gun shot gun are truly gone, it’s a lot more tactical now, filled with “behind cover” fire fights.
The chainsaw still has that ability to suck you in but even in this build it wasn’t as glitchy as before. The chainsaw duels are a lot better than I expected and only kick in when 2 players run at each other with their chainsaws revving, players are also no longer invulnerable when chainsawing and can be shotguned on spot. In turn if you sneak up behind someone with the chainsaw, you will get the wonderful “butt to head” chainsaw animation and its a lot faster. It great that sneakiness is rewarded too.
Shooting walls will cause pieces of bricks and concrete to fly off that may even cause collateral damage to players nearby. The sniper no longer downs and opponent with an active reload and the lancer with its stopping power in now a worthy opponent to a shot gun rush.
The other new additions are the ability to actually down someone with a smoke grenade for a short period, due to its concussive force, poison grenades may well be the most evil new addition to the Gears 2 armoury with their ability to down you, then slowly kill you and poison anyone near you at the same time. If you plan and tagging someone with one of these I suggest you run in the opposite direction fast unless you want to be added to the casualties. All 3 grenades can now also be attached to walls, to act like proximity mines, these are great if you’re a sniper up in a tower and want a heads up to anyone on their way up.
The boomshot does seem more reliable, but I won’t say its perfect yet, it does however now have 3 shots in it when you pick it up. Finally the only other weapon I got a go with was the flame thrower, which to be honest at first I thought was pretty useless, but once I had figured out how to properly use it may have just become my personal new favourite weapon, it takes about 3 seconds of full exposure to the flame to down someone it’s also a very hard weapon to take on at close range. I tried the portable shield once or twice which is awesome to have in a one vs one moment but it does slow you down.
Lastly a little tidbit, it may not make it into the full game but I did notice that if you friendly fire on you could actually chainsaw your team mates 😉
Last Updated: October 6, 2008