Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gears of Meh.

I would like to consider myself a fan of the first Gears of War. I played it just as much as Halo 3 online and although the campaign had it's flaws I still thought it to be a decent diversion and co-op was certainly fun. But now that I have played Gears of War 2 I have walked away extremely disappointed. Now before I continue be aware that this article will contain MASSIVE spoilers so please do not continue unless you have completed the game.

Now what everyone expects from a sequel is bigger better and more bad ass which is something the team behind gears said was their mantra while making the game but that didn't seem very apparent to me. At no point did I feel the game was better or more epic then the first game. Sure the game looks a bit better but in my opinion it was blown way out of proportion how much better the game looked over the first game because it is only marginally better. Now that in itself isn't a bad thing as Gears 1 was one of the best looking games around when it came out. But lets move on.

Now one thing everyone complained about in Gears 1 was the story or lack thereof as the game had little in terms of plot. Sure there was a storyline but you weren't really given much to go by. Now this is where the spoilers come in so please avert your eyes if you wish not to have key points of the game spoiled for you. Now alot of people have been saying the Gears 2 storyline is much better however I don't see why. There are more cut scenes but that doesn't mean that the game has a better story. My beef is lack of emotion. Gears 2 introduces quite a few new characters however they are all killed off before the end of the game. This makes no sense to me as you are hardly given more then 2-3hrs to get to know these characters and when they die you don't really care. Similarly when Dom finally finds his wife and has to kill her because of the state she is in how would you care? You don't know his wife she appears in a brief 10-15 second flashback and that's all you get other then Dom complaining about wanting to find her. If it's Dom you are supposed to be feeling sad for again the question comes up. Why? You don't know much about him other then that he seems to be Marcus' friend and seems to only be around so the 2nd player has someone to control during Co-op.

When it comes to evolving the characters there isn't much going on save for Baird. For those who have taken their time going through you will most likely have found the various research papers written by Baird which in turn expands his character as you learn that he is quite a intelligent guy and he is not only fighting but trying to understand whats going on during the war. As for everyone else they don't really change at all. Marcus is still big and gruff, Cole is still unstoppable and funny and Dom still follows Marcus around complaining about his wife. So really nothing happens in terms of character evolution.

Now another thing that bothered me was Gears 2's tendency to use gimmicky game play sequences like driving a tank or riding a Reaver or Brumak. The Reaver portion in particular lasts far to long. Now I know alot of people will say these sequences add to the variety of the game which is fine. However none of them control very well and they really only seem to be there to speed up the pace of the game or in the case of the Brumak slow down the pace of the game. Which is a sad thing as the last portion of the game shines until the Brumak section kills all the momentum and slows it down.

Now I will admit the multi player does redeem the game to a certain extent. Horde mode is a incredibly fun experience and I will challenge anyone to say otherwise. Sure at this point in time the multi player is a bit unbalanced but I'm sure that will be fixed at a later date as Gears 1 was patched to fix alot of the complaints of the community not long after it's release. As new maps are released I'm sure Gears 2 will be the place to be on Xbox Live and for good reason. One thing I would like to say is thank you to Epic for the spectator modes in Gears 2. In Gears 1 when you died you would normally just sit there and do nothing as the fixed camera almost always prevented you from getting a good view of what was going on in the remainder of the match. Gears 2 however has a incredibly flexible system that allows you to always keep the action in view and also allows you to take pictures. It's like a Demented Pokemon snap and gives you something to do until the next round starts.

Now I don't want anyone to misunderstand. I didn't hate or dislike Gears 2 I was simply disappointed. I followed the game quite a bit until it's release and I have to admit I was drinking the Kool Aid. I think after following the game and hearing all Cliffy B had to say about the game and the Tech behind it I built myself up to be disappointed. Here's hoping that Gears 3(Oh yes don't kid yourself there will be a Gears 3) will take the series to the next step in more ways then one.

11 comments:

Brent said...

The scene with Dom's wife made me cry outright. It was hard to watch. What's wrong with you?

cartoon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gman3 said...

if your such a big fan of the first gears then you should've bought the book Aspho Fields it gave alot more background stories about Dom and Mariah before E- day...As well as Marcus's life with his father and the military then the scene would have had a more profound impact...whats with everyone dogging gears of war 2's story i didn't see no complaints aboout halo 3's kringe worthy story and dont get me started on its anti-ending what was that all about???

Reibooi said...

The problem with the fact that the stuff about Dom's wife being in a book is that it's a plot point significant enough that it should have been present in the games not the book. But it's not other then her name you hardly see Maria at all had they acutally had her in Gears 1 maybe it would have been better.

@Brent
Nothing is "Wrong with me" I in most cases am a over emotional person I cried many times playing Valkyria Chronicles not to long ago Gears gives you little reason to be emotionally attached to it's characters hence my standing.

Cheeky Monkey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheeky Monkey said...

I personally don't think it's the game's fault that you didn't read further into the emotional undertone of each character's death.

Did you not read into the significance of Tai as a character and the fact that he took his own life? Or how the vision Dom has of Maria contrasts greatly to her real state; a state so bad, that he has to kill her?

These new characters are not meant to stand alone as emotional deaths. They're there to represent dark undertones and provide emotional steps for other characters. Tai was a spiritual warrior who never gave up hope. He always talked about things happening for reason, among other philosophical ideas. Now, how bad must the Locusts have treated Tai for him, a man who is so spiritual, to take his own life?

Dom never stopped talking about Maria up to the point you find her. He's so blinded by his desire to find her that, when he does find her, he imagines her as a figure of beauty. The way it transcends that image of beauty into Maria's true state is one of the best uses of cinematography I've ever seen in a video game.

I only have a couple of criticisms with regards to the story. The final boss was very underwhelming and anti-climatic, while the final cut-scene left more questions than answers and didn't live up to the rest of the story. Furthermore, Dom could have been more traumatic after Maria's death. Perhaps his mind could have gradually descended into insanity, before Marcus turns him around. These are just minor criticisms though, because everything else was top notch indeed.

Of course it's your opinion, and I respect that. I just think that you've misinterpreted the role of each character in the story.

taylor said...

Cheeky monkey hit it on the head of the nail. The reason for their deaths was to show the sheer hell that is in the hollow and what the locust make people go through is that intense. im with brent as well that was the saddest part i have ever seen in a video game. i have never cried to any game before until i saw that. i personally think dom should have had twice the health and stopping power to his weapons purly off adreniline or rage for the locust. that would have made people want to play his ass in coop. otherwise gears 2 story was way powerful emotionally.

Reibooi said...

These are great comments and you are as you say entitled to your opinion. But they don't change the way I feel for the game. Yes they make Tai out to be the spiritual guy however again as I stated you don't really get to know him at all and don't really get to find out how deep that runs so when he takes his own life merely a 1-2 after you are introduced to him the impact is simply not there for me. Undertones are great but to make someone feel for a character you need to get them attached to said character and that takes above all else depth and time something Gears 2 didn't offer. Many have stated they think the fact that the campaign was so short hurt the game and I have even heard rumors that Cliffy B cut out some cut scenes because of what he said about MGS4 and didn't want to be seen as a hypocrite.

As for the Maria's death being the saddest thing you've ever seen in a game. I would highly suggest playing more games. I can see how for some people that death would be sad but it fails to compare to some other deaths in the gaming universe. For example the Death of the protagonist at the end of Persona 3 had a immense impact on me as the entire game(100 or so hours might I add) You got to shape this character and learn alot about him. That had me crying like a baby.

In the end I think the events in Gears 2 should have happened in Gears 3. What I mean by that is they should have used Gears 2 to introduce all these characters and let you learn alot about them and get attached to them and then in Gears 3 have the events that unfolded in Gears 2 happen. Doing that would have added a significant amount of weight to the deaths and would have greatly helped.

Cheeky Monkey said...

Reiboo:

I categorically disagree that the events of Gears 2 should have been in Gears 3. If this was the case, what exactly would have happened in Gears 2? With regards to the story, there would have been little (if any) significant events. Combine that with an ending that posed more questions than answers and the game's story would have been absolutely slated.

The fact is that the story of Gears of War 2 works in parallel with the experience itself; it is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. The twists and turns - the 'shock value' of the deaths - simply add to the adrenaline-filled experience of the campaign.

If Gears of War ultimately becomes a trilogy, the second installment would have played its part well. Deaths occurred, but they weren't from major characters. However, these deaths made a significant impact on the major characters, thus giving those minor characters an important role in the story.

Even the ending in some ways was appropriate. There are several questions to be anwswered, and these will inevitably be answered in Gears of War 3.

It's important to remember that the main feature of Gears of War 2 (and Gears of War for that matter) is by no means the story, even in the campaign. It's about the experience; the non-stop, fast-paced rollercoaster action that grabs hold of you from the start and doesn't let go until the finish.

Which makes this comment all the more astonishing:

"At no point did I feel the game was better or more epic then the first game."

I mean, really? I admit that the Hospital level feels like something straight out of Gears of War, but after that there are simply no comparisons that can be drawn between the two games. In fact, I played Gears of War again after finishing the campaign for Gears of War 2 and was amazed; the first game looks and feels so mediocre compared to the second game. The gap in quality is very, very wide.

Gears of War 2 is levels above its predecessor in almost all aspects, including the story, epic scale and the experience in general.

Reibooi said...

What I meant when I said the events from Gears 2 should have been in Gears 3 is that the series as a Whole should have been written so that the significant deaths took place later on. Obviously if that was done then there would be other things to take their place in the 2nd game but that's not the point here.

As for the game not feeling as Epic I'm sorry that's how I feel. The only scenes that really made me say wow was the last portion of the game at Jacinto as the Draw distance there was insane and seeing the complete destruction that far into the distance was quite impress and really brought the scope of the war with the Locust into focus. However that was the only part that really wowed me and considering that's the sequence they used to show the game off at countless press events I would gather that it received more attention then most other areas of the game.

The game is better there is no doubt the graphics look better for sure but only to graphics junkies they aren't really THAT much more impressive. I think the problem was that after constantly hearing Cliffy B going on and on about Bigger,Better and More bad ass I was expecting a bigger jump. Similar to what was delivered with Resistance 2. There were countless times you were just shocked during that game's campaign. Sure it also had it's issues but you get what I'm trying to say.

Like I have said. I don't dislike the game I very much enjoyed it I was just very underwhelmed because I was expecting so much more.

gman3 said...

yes i know, but when you say you followed it and got yourself excited to the point that you over hyped it for yourslef then you think you would have gotten your hands on the book and the comic too.. which the comic book sucks to be honest so I could understand that the only thing im trying to say is if you over hyped it for yourself then the only person to blame is yourself.I preordered gears 2 the day it was announced i bought the comic, as well as the book and was there on midnight release.and it was actually better than what i was expecting,i was expecing more of the same and what i got was an early christmas present.if all these questions wasn't asked then the TRUE fans would have nothing to look forward too.I feel Gears of war has a superb story considdering it is a third person action shooter and not an rpg which everyone knows has the most compelling stories...