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Posts Tagged ‘Gears of War 2’

Halo 3 Overtakes Gears of War 2

Posted by haunt506e on December 5, 2008

Halo 3For even as great a game as Gears of War 2 it appears that unseating the multiplayer king from its throne was just too difficult a task.  Or was it that great of a game?  According to a recent blog post by Gamecyte, it looks like Gears of War 2 was more on the mediocre side, at least in terms of online play time.

Xbox 360 Top Live Titles (based on UU’s)
1    Halo 3
2    Gears of War 2
3    CoD: World at War
4    Call of Duty 4
5    GTA IV
6    Fable II
7    Left 4 Dead
8    Madden NFL 09
9    Fallout 3
10   FIFA 09

Top Arcade Titles (Full Versions purchased)
1    Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
2    A Kingdom for Keflings
3    UNO
4    Castle Crashers
5    Worms
6    Portal: Still Alive
7    Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
8    Aegis Wing
9    Bomberman Live
10   Assault Heroes

The above arcade list is based on full versions purchased.

Original Xbox Top Live Titles (based on UU’s)
1    Halo 2
2    Star Wars: Battlfrnt 2
3    Fable
4    Counter-Strike
5    Call of Duty 3
6    Battlefield 2: MC
7    Conker: Live Reloaded
8    Street Fighter Anniv.
9    Star Wars: Battlefront
10   Splinter Cell Chaos

These lists are based on global unique users connected to Xbox Live or in the case of Arcade, full versions purchased that week.

Judgement DayFor Call of Duty 4, it took several months of a constant back and forth battle before Master Chief could reassert his rule over the Xbox Live domain.  Grand Theft Auto IV was the only other game to knock Halo 3 off of the #1 position, but after a reported 3 updates, even GTAIV couldn’t stand up to Bungie’s creation.  Gears of War 2 had its chance to remain at the top after it briefly took the #1 spot, but EPIC threw away that chance by maintaining a laggy, slow, bug-filled multiplayer experience that was just a hastle to even think about playing.  After the smoke cleared, Halo 3 regained its title after less than a month of the whole Gears of War 2 ordeal.

Gears of War 2 now stands at #2, and by the looks of it, it’s dropping.  The only guys on my friends that I notice playing the game now are people that were huge fans of the original Gears, back when Gears 1 was the #1 most played game on Xbox Live.  I think what happened to Gears of War 2 is that players finished the single player campaign, played a few matches of multiplayer, got agitated by the whole mess, ejected the disc, and put in another game, most likely CoD5 or CoD4, which are now fighting each other for the #3 spot.

Chainsaw DuelSo what exactly happened to Gears of War 2?  We’ve established that the multiplayer sucks, but I will give it kudos in that its take on multiplayer is an improvement over the original Gears.  Improving on garbage isn’t difficult to do, but despite being garbage, the original Gears of War held its position at the top for several months, until Halo 3 came along.  It seems kind of strange that Gears 2, an improvement over Gears 1, couldn’t even hold #1 for even a month, and even more shocking, the game was overtaken by Halo 3, a game that’s not only been out for a year, but one that’s also been heavily criticized by the gaming community as being “overrated.”  (I don’t think Halo 3 deserves some of the punishment it has been getting, but I could talk about why all day long).

New multiplayer matchmaking systems have been layed down by games like Halo 3 and the two Call of Duty games.  While Halo 3 arguably “started it all,” and still maintains an incredible online community, CoD4 and 5 have both contributed to the development of matchmaking in their own way.  Gears of War 2, on the otherhand, seems to have taken a step in the opposite direction, and, because of this, has already suffered from obvious drops in its online play time.  For me and hundreds of thousands of other players, Gears 2 is singularly a single player experience, not because the multiplayer is a bad concept, but because the multiplayer was carried out horribly.

If you’re looking for a great multiplayer game, DON’T BUY GEARS OF WAR 2!  Halo 3 and CoD4 (or 5), despite both being over a year old, are still your best bets.

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Posted in News, Xbox 360 | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Recent Gears of War 2 Patch Supposedly Speeds Up Matchmaking

Posted by haunt506e on November 28, 2008

Gears of War 2Earlier today EPIC released the first patch for Gears of War 2, a patch focused almost entirely on fixing the game’s ridiculously slow matchmaking system.  I’ve gotten some time to test out the new patch, and, I’ve gotta say, it didn’t really change much.  The matchmaking is still riddled with those “wtf?” moments, long search times, and infinite search loops.  For my friends and I, getting into a Gears of War 2 match kind of goes like this…

  1. Matchmaking is started.
  2. After 2 minutes, matchmaking is restarted.
  3. After 2 minutes, matchmaking is switched to a different game type.
  4. After 2 seconds, a match is found.
  5. When the match is over and you’ve waited the useless 25 seconds in the post-game lobby (why?), repeat the process.

Gears of War 2 is a great game, better than the first even.  However, where it fails is not in some game mechanic or concept, but in its terrible truskill or whatever matchmaking system.  Truskill doesn’t work, every developer needs to get that into their heads.  Matchmaking is fine by me, but destroy the steaming pile of excrement that is truskill (I don’t know if that’s the correct spelling, but whatever).  I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead a lot the past couple of days, do you know how long, on average, it takes to find a match via matchmaking (without truskill thank god)?  Around 3 seconds.  No restarting the matchmaking, no switching playlists, all it takes is a simple select game type, difficulty, and level, and a match is found almost instantly.  Yeah, I know L4D uses dedicated servers, but that has nothing to do with the actual matchmaking (as in finding a game) part of the deal.

So really EPIC, fix your product, because for the time being, it is unplayable by myself and no doubt hundreds of thousands of others.  The game’s great, but right now I’d kinda like to continue the multiplayer experience, but unfortunately cannot because of the s*** servers.  I could forgive this poor quality on launch day and even a few days later when I was writing my review, but I can’t overlook the terrible performance 21 days after launch.

But I guess I must give credit where credit is due.  After all, the title update did do something.  Instead of having to restart matchmaking three times to get a match, now you only have to restart it twice…

Posted in News, Xbox 360 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Gears of War 2 Multiplayer Guide

Posted by haunt506e on November 17, 2008

Gears of War 2Gears of War 2 Multiplayer GuideGears of War 2 is a third person shooter characterized not only by its enormously gritty and gory hyper-violent game play, but also by the game mechanics that have made it into one of the best games of this year. The whole “get into cover or you’ll die” thing going on with Gears 2 works extremely well, and the cover system in Gears 2 has been put into a much greater light now than in the original Gears, thanks in part to the nerfing of the infamous Gnasher Shotgun.  

And so, Gears of War 2’s game play, while using theoretically the same formula as the original, plays much differently.  You may find it very frustrating in multiplayer to be chainsawed to death for the twentieth time after trying to shotgun rush the opposing team. Well, in short, a lot of things (such as shotgun rushing) don’t work in Gears 2 like they did in Gears 1.  This guide will serve as a way to bridge the gap and possibly help you become better prepared for your next multiplayer encounter in Gears of War 2.  A knowledge of common battlefield strategies, ie: flanking, taking cover, etc., is assumed.

In addition to various battlefield maneuvers, I’m assuming that you’ve played a first person or third person shooter before and are familiar with its basic concepts, controls, etc.  I won’t go into detail on map or level design, specific movements, etc., but rather on how to handle situations based on which weapon you find yourself carrying.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the Gears of War 2 Multiplayer Guide.  Feel free to comment on my guide and add your own tips to the mix.

Tactics:

  • Gears of War 2 is very different from the original.  Do not, under any circumstances, associate the game play of one game with the game play of the other.  They do look and feel the same, but the weapons fire differently in each game and after you have become accustomed to one version, you must completely change your play style to fit the other.
  • Cover: They give it to you for a reason.  Maps are set up in such a way that cover is always plentiful, and should be used for suppressing fire, flanking maneuvers, etc.  While you should be using cover for protection, that doesn’t mean sit there and unload clip after clip on the enemy.  Use cover to slowly work your way around the enemy’s main force, and move into closer range where the lancer and the shotgun are much more effective.  I’ll get into each weapon’s pros/cons later.
  • Rushing: Rushing in Gears 2 does not work, and should be avoided.  You can rush an enemy’s position if given enough covering fire or if a pathway opens up, but do not, I repeat, do not just rush the enemy that’s firing straight at you.  All weapons in the game exhibit some sense of stopping power, meaning as you run at an enemy who is firing at you, you will get pushed backwards, running much slower.
  • Communication: Teamwork is obviously essential to winning a match online in Gears of War 2.  Whether you’re coordinating an assault or organizing a strategic retreat, it is important that you talk to your teammates.  Even if you don’t know the people on your team, a simple, “Watch the left side,” or “Grenade!” will increase the longevity of your team and your chances of winning.
  • I could go on and on about different Gears of War 2 tactics, but these tactics will change depending on which weapon you are using, and I will go into more detail on each specific weapon next.

Weapon Tactics:

  • LancerLancer: The game’s standard issue assault rifle, the lancer soon becomes both the newbie and the veteran’s best friend.  It can lay down some heavy mid-range covering fire and functions almost better than the shotgun in most close range situations, and is all around a well balanced weapon.  Where it fails is at long range.  Keep that in mind, and you should be able to use the lancer to its full extent.  When using the lancer, your ultimate goal should be to close the distance between you and your target, where you can either chainsaw them to pieces or gun them down at close range, where the lancer excels.  Doing this actually isn’t that difficult.  By using cover to your advantage, and with the help of your team, you can easily flank an enemy’s position, get to the side of their cover where you can get some shots off, and just unload on your target.  If you’re getting rushed while holding the lancer, no need to panick, the stopping power from your gun will slow down the rusher, causing him to fall flat at your feet before he even becomes a threat.  Keep up the active reloads and the accuracy and you’ll be holding one of the most deadly weapons on the battlefield.
  • GnasherGnasher: Gears of War 2 has nerfed the traditional Gears of War shotgun, making it significantly less powerful and slower than the original weapon.  That doesn’t mean that the gun is worthless, however.  In most cases, the shotgun has more range than people think, and I know from personal experience that it can outgun a lancer at mid-range (I’m talking less than 10ft, just out of chainsaw range).  Keep it handy, and you can use it if you’re close enough to an enemy to deliver the killing blow, but maybe there is some cover in they way or it’s too dangerous to clear the distance between yourself and your target in order to chainsaw said target.  The gnasher is useful in these select circumstances, and, while it has potential, I don’t see it as an incredibly useful weapon.  It is always my first choice in Gears 2 to drop the shotgun for a different weapon, rather than the lancer, as I did in Gears of War 1.
  • Hammerburst: Like the Lancer, this gun is incredibly effective at mid-range combat.  However, it takes a bit more skill than the lancer, seeing as its a single shot weapon.  In addition, it does not feature a chainsaw.  In an out and out duel between Lancer and Hammerburst, in which both guns start firing at the same time, the Hammerburst will win, not only because it is more accurate, but also because it is more powerful, and consequently offers more stopping power. You use it in much the same way as the lancer, but it is better to stick to the mid-range to long-range when using this gun, as it does not feature a chainsaw and the only close-range capability of the weapon is the standard melee.  This tends to be my standard starting weapon, but I would not recommend it to players who are just getting a feel for the game, mainly because it does not have a chainsaw bayonet.
  • Snub PistolPistols: The pistols are not very effective by themselves, and I don’t recommend charging into a room using the pistol and the melee button. However, when used in conjunction with a shield, meat or boom, they can be devastating.  My personal favorite is the Gorgon, but each pistol has its pros and cons and fire differently, but overall they equal out in most respects.  The standard Snub pistol fires quickly, but its shots don’t do a whole lot of damage and its clip is somewhat small (it’ll also usually require two clips to down somebody).  Boltok pistols, also called revolvers, are very powerful pistols, but fire very slow and again, have a small clip size (you can kill somebody with less than one clip though).  The final pistol, the Gorgon pistol, is an automatic pistol that fires one clip at a time, emptying an entire clip before switching to the next one.  This pistol only has four clips, meaning it will run out after you squeeze the trigger four times.  In addition, it takes a long time to switch clips, meaning that you will have to wait about two seconds in between bursts.  However, it only takes about two well-aimed bursts to down an enemy using this pistol, even less if you’ve scored an active.
  • Frag GrenadesGrenades: Grenades are a little underpowered in Gears of War 2, but are still useful for flushing enemies out of cover or putting pressure on enemies who you might be flanking.  The idea behind the regular frag grenade is not necessarily to kill them outright, but to stun them and deal significant damage so that you can finish off your target with little difficulty.  With the Ink Grenade, the premise is almost exactly the same, but the Ink cloud tends to make enemies move more, and will give you a better chance at intercepting them or catching them offguard.  The new smoke/stun grenade is very unique in that it also knockdowns your enemy, making it one of the best grenades available.  This grenade can be used to rush “chainsawers,” “shotgunners,” or really anybody.  All grenades may be stuck to surfaces and will act as mines, but the only one that you should actually do this with is the frag grenade.
  • Flamethrower: If there is a flamethrower on the map you are playing on, pick it up.  Currently, this weapon is so unbalanced it isn’t even funny.  It will out-shoot any gun at mid-range, and while it’s range is limited, if you’re within say, 15 feet of a guy with a flamethrower, you’re pretty much dead.  As far as tactics go with this weapon, it functions like the shotgun.  Get in close, but not too close (watch for chainsaws).  The flamethrower’s only pitfall is that it has very poor stopping power.  This doesn’t usually matter since it kills your enemies so extremely fast, however, and it’s pure power will make up for any of its shortcomings.
  • LongshotLongshot: The game’s sniper rifle, the Longshot Rifle, is very effective when you’re good with it.  For beginners, I would use it mainly as a support weapon, using it to damage enemies from afar that your friendlies are currently engaging with in close or mid-range combat.  When you start getting better with this weapon, you’ll be getting head shots more often, making it one of the most dangerous weapons on the battlefield, even moreso than the Lancer.  In the right hands, a Longshot can make or break your team, and ensuring that your team maintains control of a sniper rifle is paramount to your success.  Unfortunately, the Longshot is terrible at close range (understandable), has a one shot clip, and is only effective when in the proper hands.  In addition, rushing with a Longshot is just…  stupid.
  • Boomshot: The Boomshot rocket launcher has been almost entirely redone, this time much less powerful, and fits better into the whole scheme of things.  The Boom is pretty unique in its uses, as it can only really be used if you have an open shot on your target (ie: you’re above your target or behind or to the side of your target).  Therefore, flanking maneuvers are very important if you are to use the Boom effectively.  I wouldn’t rely solely on the Boomshot in any situation, as its reload time is pretty slow and its damage, while powerful, is somewhat inconsistent, killing foes it should have only damaged and damaging foes it should have killed.  The Boom is definitely not high on my list of “good” weapons.
  • Torque BowTorque Bow:The Torque functions almost exactly like the Longshot, except the Torque, instead of a scope, uses a laser targeting system. Some people like this weapon better than the Longbow because while it is harder to use for most, if it hits it delivers an instant kill to the target, regardless of where on the target’s body it lands.  It sounds great, but, again, like the Longshot, accuracy with the Torque is achieved through practice, and this weapon, even moreso than the Longshot, only becomes useful when you become pretty well acquainted with how it works.  In addition, it is a little better at close range than the Longshot, seeing as you can back up while blind-firing the weapon with relative accuracy.  Other than that, both guns fire similarly and similar tactics should be used when handling either gun.  Just a note, if you’re using the Torque and there’s a known sniper in the area, be careful.  Snipers can pick off inexperienced Torques with relative ease, as the Torque has to expose his entire body to aim and fire the weapon.
  • Hammer of Dawn: I’ll be quite brief with the Hammer, because I’ve only seen it on one map, a map on which I’ve only actually used the weapon once: Jacinto.  Unfortunately, EPIC has brought the Hammer down to its knees.  I was expecting EPIC to bring the Hammer down a notch or two, but not all the way down to the floor on which it now lies, face down.  Not only is the Hammer a little less powerful, it also has an ammunition bar, that runs out extremely quickly.  So it’s pretty much the Hammer from Gears 1 with a time limit, totalling at about less than 10 seconds of continuous use.  It does have its uses though, while it lasts, namely bunker busting.  It can be used to flush enemies out of cover very quickly, killing stragglers instantly.  When used in conjuction with teammates’ Lancers, Longshots, Hammerbursts, and Torque Bows, the Hammer is a devastating support weapon. However, it just doesn’t last long enough nor does it appear in enough maps to be considered worthwhile.
  • MulcherMulcher: The Mulcher is a very unique weapon.  It’s extremely powerful, and can quickly mow down any advancing enemies or enemies who have carelessly stepped out too far into the open.  However, you are extremely vulnerable and immobile while using this weapon, making you a prime target for just about any mid to long-range gun.  For this reason, I label the Mulcher as a support gun.  It excels at laying down covering fire and at picking off the occasional bad guy who has strayed too far away from the team, but should not be used as a carry-around Lancer-like weapon.  Flanking maneuvers are easy to make against a Mulcher, and as a Mulcher Gunner, you need to keep this in mind (frag grenades work well to seal off flanking points).  Keep your teammates close when you’re carrying the Mulcher, and you should be fine.
  • Mortar: Mortars in most games are considered long-range support weapons, and the Mortar in Gears of War 2 is not acception.  Like the Mulcher, the Mortar makes its user highly immobile and vulnerable, even moreso than the Mulcher because in order to use the Mortar correctly, you must be somewhat distanced from the rest of the battle.  For this reason, enemies can pick off lone Mortar Gunners with extreme ease, so try to keep your position relatively secure when firing off Mortar shells.  Other than that, skill with the Mortar can only come with experience, as you must find out how long the trigger must be held in order to hit at certain distances, how to bring in timing into the equation, etc.  When used correctly, the Mortar is perhaps even more dangerous than the Mulcher, serving mainly as a bunker buster.

Posted in Game Guides, Xbox 360 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Gears of War 2 Full Review

Posted by haunt506e on November 10, 2008

Gears of War 2 Review

I’ve gotten a chance to play, quite extensively actually, the newest shooter on the block, Gears of War 2.  It makes a magnificent attempt at following in its predecessor’s footsteps with its intuitive cover system and trademark “stop-and-pop” game play that so defined its successor, the original Gears of War.  The game improves on these aspects instead of trying something entirely new, and still manages to feel like an entirely different experience.  It blends an intense single player (and cooperative) campaign mode with a very deep multiplayer mode, complete with several new addictive game types.  And now my full review of Gears of War 2.

Graphics/Audio:

I’ll start off by going over some of the visual and audio aspects of Gears of War 2.  Put simply, this game takes the precise graphics from the original game and expands them.  In the sequel, you’re fighting larger enemies in larger quantities, all with the same level of detail as before.  A few missions in the first and second acts have you gunning down vast hordes of enemy Locusts and Locust siege creatures, all of which move and act normally.  The set pieces in the game also look and act tremendously well, several boss battles are brought to life through these massive pieces falling or crumbling apart.  Pieces of bricks will fall off of wall as you hide behind them, and while this has no real effect on the game play, it makes the game more realistic.  As far as sound quality and composition goes, Gears of War 2 again follows in its predecessor’s steps by delivering tremendous, epic orchestral scores to complement the huge scale on which it is played.  The tracks fit the mood of the level and situation perfectly, and again separate this game from all other shooters.

Mulcher-wielding Boomers (also known as Grinders) are another addition to the vast Locust arsenal.

Mulcher-wielding Boomers (also known as Grinders) are another addition to the vast Locust arsenal.

Single Player:

Getting into the single player campaign, you take control of Marcus, six months after the events of the original Gears of War.  I won’t spoil any of the story, but you’re pretty much told that Locusts now have the ability to sink entire cities into the ground and you are now on the offensive, sending siege weapons known as Grind Lifts to deploy COG soldiers deep underground in the center of the Locust horde.  The single player campaign can be summed up in one word: epic.  The idea behind it is the same as that of Gears of War 1, where you and your squad move from point to point eliminating anything in your path while simultaneously uncovering key points to the Gears of War storyline.  However, Gears of War 2 augments this traditional game play by increasing the size of the scale on which these objectives take place.  You fight huge battles with huge creatures in huge arenas with virtually everything at stake.  It isn’t just limited to the same old emergence hole after emergence hole game play that decreased the replay value of the original game.  While you will still fight waves of Locust enemies, it no longer seems so monotonous in Gears of War 2, thanks largely in part to the addition of its intense set piece battles and extremely thorough level designs.

The single player campaign, in all its glory, won’t survive more than one or two play-throughs, unfortunately.  However, thanks to EPIC’s brand new drop-in cooperative feature, the whole single player campaign just redoubled its replay value.  In Gears of War 1, in order to play campaign with a friend, you had to set up a cooperative match, then invite said friend, and then start the match.  Now, in Gears 2, you can easily just start up your own solo campaign, and, if you’re stuck at a part or just need a pal, you can invite anyone on your friends list and that friend can join in the game, without having to set up an actual cooperative match.  It sounds simple and in today’s world of gaming, it’s almost a “duh” feature, but the cooperative aspect of Gears of War 2 has been greatly improved upon, and stands out as one of the key features of its campaign mode.

We're gonna have to rush 'em.

We're gonna have to rush 'em.

Multiplayer:

Campaign is by no means the only part of Gears of War 2, and is really only the beginning of its greatness.  In actuality, what defines the Gears 2 experience more than anything else is its multiplayer mode.  EPIC did away with the original matching system of Gears 1 and replaced it with a new matchmaking system, reminiscent of Halo 3.  So far, the matchmaking has been a mixed blessing.  It’s great in the sense that it is now relatively easy to get into a match and stay on the same team as your friends, and also in the fact that all matchmaking is ranked, so you will gain achievements no matter what the game mode.  However, it could just be that the servers are new and need some updating, but, for me at least, the matchmaking appears to be slow at times.  I will frequently get caught in what seems to be an infinite loop of error messages and matchmaking restarts that result in about (on average) one match found per minute.  It doesn’t seem like much, but it gets pretty annoying after finishing one match only to have to wait in the matchmaking screen for it to slowly find you a match.  In addition, Gears of War 2 has improved on the whole matchmaking veto system, now allowing for players to vote on a certain map and game type, rather than just veto one map or mode in exchange for a random new one.  EPIC also took the time to add in a Training Grounds mode to the game, allowing new players to hone their skills against bots on any of the game’s maps or modes, the only exception being Horde.

Cover is invaluable in every game mode.

Cover is invaluable in every game mode.

As far as the actual multiplayer goes, however it is fantastic.  Most of the old modes, with the exception of Assassination, have made it to the new game, with the addition of a few other new game modes, the best of which being Horde.  Most of these new game types, while not significant or unique, add more variety and replayability to the game, and help to flesh out the multiplayer mode even more.  Guardian is the only new Death Match game type that has been added, with Warzone and Execution being carried over from Gears 1.  In Guardian, your team has a leader who, while alive, grants the rest of the team guaranteed respawns.  If your leader dies, you lose your respawns.  In theory, this game type would be a blast to play, and it usually is, but every once in a while you’ll meet up with another team who basically camps at their spawn so that their leader won’t get killed, and this strategy often just results in a standstill.  As far as new objective game types, EPIC has added a whole new slew of modes, including a CTF variant called Submission, and a King of the Hill mode, in addition to the Gears of War 2 version of Annex, which has been left largely untouched.  King of the Hill on Gears of War 2 functions just like King of the Hill anywhere else, you gotta find the hill and hold it.  Submission, however, has two teams fighting for control of a stranded, also known as the “meatflag.”  To win, a team has to capture the meatflag and bring him back to a turn in point, securing points for their team.

In addition to these game types, EPIC has added a few other genre-defining modes, namely Horde.  In Horde, you and four buddies team up together to take on wave after wave of Locusts, and if you’re good enough, you can make it all the way to wave 50.  The enemies get progressively stronger every 10 waves, and it by the time you get to the higher waves, you’ll be hard pressed for ammunition and cover, as you’ll be flanked, doubleflanked, zerged, etc.  While you can play this mode through matchmaking, it is a much more enjoyable experience when played with friends.  It brings out teamwork and comradery like no other game type, and you and your buds will have a hard time leaving the game after discovering Horde mode.  Fighting wave after wave of ferocious Locust baddies with your buds side by side is a gaming experience I will never forget.  This game type can be played on any map, and its a joy to strategize and cooperate with your teammates in order to take the high ground, flank enemy cover points, or coordinate strategic retreats.

All weapons from the single player campaign can be used in multiplayer.

All weapons from the single player campaign can be used in multiplayer.

All in all EPIC has done a great job with this title, and it has certainly lived up to and beyond the original game’s claims to fame.  EPIC has added a few other noteworthy features as well, including well designed spectator functions, complete with the ability to take and upload game play photos, a host of unlockables, and a great system of achievement tracking.  The photos work really well, you take them while spectating a match, and EPIC has added a “ghost camera” feature so that you can fly around the map and take pictures from several angles.  All of the pictures used in this review were taken by myself during various multiplayer situations, and they came out pretty well.  The unlockables are nothing to shout about, but its nice that they put them in there.  In the original Gears of War, I know a lot of guys were complaining about its terrible system for tracking your achievements.  Well, all that has been fixed in Gears of War 2, and now you can not only view the achievements, but you can also view your progression on each individual achievement, all in-game without the need to bring up the annoyingly slow Xbox Guide.

Verdict:

When it’s all said and done, Gears of War 2 is a Great Buy for any Xbox 360 owner.

Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Gears of War 2, PreRelease Preview

Posted by haunt506e on November 6, 2008

For those who are purchasing Gears of War 2 tomorrow for the Xbox 360, you may or may not know about the additional bonus maps that will come with the game.  Yep, that’s right, a map pack from day 1.  EPIC is including a code that you can use to download 5 additional maps for Gears of War 2, all of which are simply Gears of War 1 maps that have been re-imagined for the sequel.  I’ll post up some comparison pictures to show the differences, most of which are pretty subtle, but make the maps more diverse.  The re-imagined maps look great, as do the 10 maps that will be shipped out on the actual disc, and I look forward to playing with my buds online.  If you hover your mouse over the picture, it’ll tell you which one is the original Gears map and which one is the re-imagined map, but, if you’ve played the game before, it shouldn’t be too difficult to discern.

 

 

One more thing I’d like to bring up is a preview on the various game modes in Gears of War 2.  Most of the original Gears of War modes, such as Warzone, Execution, and Annex, will be making an appearance on Gears of War 2, with the addition of a few new game types, all of which have been very well received by the community.  The Capture the Flag game type joins the game, with a twist.  Now, instead of carrying a flag, you must capture a gun-wielding stranded, who’s not all that happy about a bunch of COGs pushing him around.  In Wingman, you and a buddy participate in large battles of five two person teams pitted against one another in a sort of Execution variant.  Horde takes the cake as the best new game type, especially when played with your friends.  In Horde, you and 4 other players face off against wave after wave of AI controlled Locust bots, which increase in number and difficulty over time, and should make for some very challenging and interesting game play scenarios.

 

Lastly, I’d like to talk about the new party system that will be featured in Gears of War 2.  In Gears 1, it seemed a pretty big hastle to play a match with your friends, even in Player matches (in Ranked matches it was near impossible).  Now, EPIC has added a party match-making system, not unlike that of Halo 3.  While the party size is limited to 5 players for Gears of War, you will still be able to enter into a playlist with your friends and match up with a similarly ranked team to compete in whichever game type you’ve chosen.  The Veto feature will also be present, allowing you 2 vetos instead of just one.

 

Expect all of these great features, and maybe even a few surprises, when you pick up Gears of War 2 this Friday (that’s tomorrow).  I’ll be online duking it out with the rest of the Gears of War community, and expect me to have a full review up in a few days. IGN has posted a video with the comparisons if you’d like to check that out, I would have embedded it here but the html on wordpress wasn’t coming up right…  Regardless, check back for my first impressions tomorrow.

 

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November Previews

Posted by haunt506e on November 4, 2008

Now comes a little segment in The Update in which I like to preview a few of the big hits of the month.  Don’t feel obliged to read all of them, but rather, just pick out the ones you like, and if you feel the need to comment, let me know which section you’re talking about.  Thanks and enjoy!

This month’s update will preview…

-Gears of War 2

-Little Big Planet

-Left 4 Dead

-Call of Duty: World at War

Gears of War 2

If you’re gonna call yourself an Xbox 360 gamer, then no doubt you’ve heard of the Xbox 360 exclusive title, Gears of War.  It created quite a following for itself back when it was released in 2006 for the Xbox 360, shortly after the console’s launch.  It’s time now for the next installment in the rumored trilogy, Gears of War (yes, you guessed it) 2.

Boasting a few new weapons, characters, enemies, vehicles, maps, locations, buttons, bugs, chainsaws, and more, Gears of War 2 is shaping up to be one of the biggest blockbuster hits of this year.  It’s got everything any serious gamer could ask for, killer weapons, gritty warzones, gruesome enemies, and a pretty well thought out campaign.  To differentiate the title from the original Gears of War, EPIC has added in a few new features.  In addition to the new campaign and singleplayer levels, the game introduces several new game modes, seamless cooperative drop-in support, 5 training missions for players new to the game, and offline bots for offline skirmishes or practice.  This game’s release date, set exactly two years after the first game’s, will reach us in just 3 days.  While it won’t be as hectic as Halo 3’s launch, Gears of War 2 will hopefully live up to its predecessors, and, judging by the reviews already out there, it already has.

Noteworthy Features:

-Most of the original GoW game mechanics return.  If you enjoyed the first title, chances are that you’ll enjoy this one as well.

-A few new game mechanics and weapons, such as the ability to grab enemies as human shields.

-New multiplayers modes and maps.  As far as the modes go, you’ll see modes like horde, a 5-player cooperative fight to the death against waves of AI-controlled Locusts.

-More singleplayer levels to play and an enhanced coop mode, allowing players to drop into their buddy’s game seamlessly.

If you’re interested, pick up Gears of War 2 this Friday (Nov. 7th) for the Xbox 360.  I will be reviewing it shortly thereafter, so stay tuned for my first impressions (minor update) and my full review (major update).

Little Big Planet

I’m not a PS3 guy so I’m not gonna try and act like one, but I’ve come across some news (relatively old news actually) relating to the game.  For those that don’t know, Little Big Planet was recently pulled from store shelves due to some music that it contained in one of its levels.  The music was apparently offensive to the Islamic religion because it contained certain lines from the Qur’an.  The game was expected to ship out again no later than I think this week (that’s the week of Nov. 3rd), and as far as I know, most stores have been selling the game for a few days now.  Just a few comments on this action, I think Sony made a pretty good move, I mean, they lost a ton of money by having the CDs re-stamped, but putting a kids’ game out with disrespectful song lyrics wouldn’t have looked all that great on their part.  A “day one” patch might have worked, but it wouldn’t have fixed the game for those players without Sony’s online service.  Whatever the case may be, it was a controversial deal and Sony did a good job of righting itself, disrespecting any religion is not something that should be taken lightly, even if accidental.

Just a note, I’m currently looking for a writer to help out with PS3 news and reviews, as I don’t own a PS3 and won’t be able to cover anything more than PS3 news.  Check out the Opportunities page for more information.

Noteworthy Features:

-Puzzle Platformer, doesn’t redefine the genre, but rather refines it.

-The Sackboy, who doesn’t love ’em?  (Extensive opportunities for customization).

-Incredible graphics and physics engines, as well as great audio.

Left 4 Dead

Alright, Left 4 Dead time.  I wasn’t really looking into this game a whole lot until quite recently, after watching some videos and reading some news reports on the games, I got hooked to it.  It is expected to ship and be in stores by mid-November, I apologize for not having the exact date, and it is looking to be a killer title for the Xbox 360 and PC.  For any of you all that play CounterStrike or CounterStrike Source, Left 4 Dead runs on the Source engine, and pits up to 4 “survivors” against hordes of the living dead.  Each match takes place on a scenario type map, where the survivors start at one point, make it to point B, then C, and finally D, where they have to hold out for several minutes until an EVAC Chopper arrives to rescue them.  Sounds simple enough, but when you combine this with the hectic action resulting from wave after wave of swarming brain-eating zombies, things start to get pretty intense.

A random AI Computer will control the zombies in cooperative mode, and it has been made so that each encounter will be randomized and different, so that even though you may play the same scenarios multiple times, no single game will be the same.  Zombies will come from different areas, ambushes will be set in different choke points, and bigger, badder zombies might come at different times under different circumstances.  I think (not 100% sure here) that in online play, up to 4 other players may also control the zombies, but I can’t confirm this for you, as I’ve only heard this from a few friends.  Regardless, the AI itself ‘ought to make for some entertaining coop experiences, and should increase the longevity of this title by a long shot.  I’m looking forward to its release later this November, and am definitely gonna have to pick it up.

Noteworthy Features:

-It’s a zombie survival game, you’re basically playing out a movie.

-Random encounters create re-playability.

-Focus on cooperative play allows for more relaxed play sessions, while at the same time creating a hectic situation in which players have to rely on each others’ strengths to proceed.

Call of Duty: World at War

Call of Duty: World at War, more commonly known as Call of Duty 5, is perhaps one of the more well-known non-exclusive games that will be hitting the market this holiday season.  Running on the same engine as the smash hit Call of Duty 4, we’re told that World at War will deliver the same stellar performance at its big brother.  By making only a few changes to the original formula, Treyarch hopes to bring the same chaos and exhilarating battlefield combat from Call of Duty 4 to the World War II era in Call of Duty 5.  I actually got into both the Xbox 360 Beta and the PC Beta, so I can talk with a small amount of experience on the matter.

*I didn’t have enough room to keep all the box arts on one line, so I omitted the PS3 box art.

Let me just go ahead and say that I’m not really all that intrigued by the Call of Duty 5 beta.  Why?  Because no matter what I’m doing in that game, no matter my weapon, kit, map or game mode, I feel like I’ve done it before.  Not only that, but because I’ve played Call of Duty 4 to such a great extent, Call of Duty 5 just seems stale to me.  It’s the same game with different weapons, but even the weapons feel the same.  The light machine guns in Call of Duty 5 shoot like the sub machine guns in Call of Duty 4, the sniper rifles fire the same way, and even the rocket launcher seems to fire similarly to Call of Duty 4’s RPG.  On the positive side, because Call of Duty 5 has already been done before, there aren’t really a whole lot of balance issues, which is pretty good.  You’ll still get the whiney little kid complaining about the Juggernaught perk or Martyrdom, but that’s why they made the mute button right?  In short, it’ll be an undeserving big hit, just because all of the Call of Duty 4 fanboys will migrate to Call of Duty 5, and will whine there a bit before moving onwards to the next mainstream title.

Noteworthy Features:

-Play Call of Duty 4 and you’ll have played Call of Duty 5.

-WWII setting, meaning instead of modern maps, now you’ll be playing on WWII-themed maps.

-If you like WWII better than modern, it’s definitely worth looking into.  If not, just stick with Call of Duty 4, I suspect there’ll be people playing that game for a long time to come.

And so ends the first monthly preview segment, this has been Haunt, please comment and spread the word, and thanks for reading!

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