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.