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Worth the extra coin for a bit of extra content?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Gears of War 2 is what’s going to sell Xbox 360s this holiday season. It has non-stop action, fresh gameplay, varied environments, an engrossing storyline, multiplayer that will have people busy for years to come, and some of the nastiest and coolest kills I’ve seen in a videogame. It has its flaws when it comes to the technical side of multiplayer and the last act of the campaign and the voice acting might turn some off. Still, none of that comes close to holding back Gears of War 2 from its destiny: being one of the best games available on the Xbox 360.The Limited Edition for Gears of War 2 houses the requisite fancy slip cover and metallic game case, complete with an extra disc of bonus content, a photograph of Dom and Maria (the same that Dom carries in the game), a cool art book with notes from Cliff and a code for a gold-plated Lancer for multiplayer. The most important pieces of content are undoubtedly the lengthy documentary that comes on the bonus disc as well as Steve Jablonsky’s four original tracks that were recorded for the game. There are also progression galleries that show the evolution of the art style for the main characters and two sets of gamer pictures – one for COG and one for Locust. The documentary is a cool and deep look at the making of the game, but for whatever reason it doesn’t use the Xbox 360’s standard DVD controls. There’s no option to fast-forward or rewind, instead you can only pause. Jablonsky’s score is very well done and it’s cool to be able to just sit down and give it a listen.The other additions to the Limited Edition are the photo of Dom and Maria and the gold-plated Lancer. Neither are huge additions, nor are they worth the extra ten bucks, but Gears nuts will appreciate being able to put the picture in their wallet and use the Lancer in multiplayer. Nothing in the Limited Edition is of extreme worth. The documentary has solid production values and it’s a nice and long look at the development process, the team, and the history of the studio but, like the rest of the frills in the LE, likely won’t be taken advantage of by anyone but the most diehard of fans.
The menus are very reminiscent of the original but the story is handed to the player in an entirely new way. Gears 2 stays at a very high quality throughout. New kill cams are very cool.
Fantastic looking characters inhabit splendid worlds that feel truly alive. You’d be hard pressed to find a better looking game anywhere. Now if only they could fix the texture and framerate issues.
The sound effects bring you into the action perfectly and Jablonsky delivered on the score in a big way. Voice acting could use some work.
Some of the purest fun you’ll have. Instant gratification starts at level one and never lets up. It’s familiar for veterans of the first but throws in plenty to legitimize itself.
Lasting Appeal (9.5/10)
Supposing they can fix the few multiplayer issues, there’s nothing stopping Gears 2 from ruling Xbox Live for some time to come. The photo mode is a great addition, too.