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Gears of War 2 is Microsoft Games Studio's biggest blockbuster romp on the 360. The now famous atmospheric shaky-camera effects combine with super-sized enemies and the destroyed beauty aesthetic to create a breathtaking experience. In third person view you charge through the Locust hoards with your squad of elite soldiers. Intense over the shoulder combat combines with the best visuals seen on the Xbox 360 to impress and enrapture players of all persuasions. Gears of War 2 Limited Collectors Edition combines the original game with the All Fronts Collection that offers 19 extra multiplayer maps as well as the Road to Ruin campaign.
Although Gears of War is famous for its good looks, it's really the gameplay that is more revolutionary. As in the first game, combat and cover continues to set the bar for shooters. The ability to easily duck in and out of protective undergrowth and architecture creates both tactical and dramatic impact. This drop-and-pop play mechanic means that players can make better use of structures in the environment for their advantage.
These unique Gears of War controls radically affect how the game can be tackled. The big secret here is that in practice, this becomes more of a thinking man's shooting experience. Although it never strays all that far from the adrenalin rush of hard combat, players really need to use their heads to conquer each level efficiently and score well.
The shooter genre is fiercely competitive with triple A titles of the likes of Far Cry 2, Halo 3 ODST and Resident Evil 5. Gears of War 2 fits right in amongst this cohort of top notch experiences. It may not have the nuanced enemy artificial intelligence of Halo, or the persistent strategic elements of Far Cry 2, but it has bigger cahooners than any of these titles. This is a game with the stones to stand on the strength of its visceral shooting experience alone.
Gears of War visually impresses in ways that intelligently add a sense of involvement and realism to the action. Remember the first time you saw Saving Private Ryan in the cinema? That same overwhelming shock, horror and connection to the action on-screen is found here.
This is backed up with some well staged co-operative play that creates a real sense of co-operation and camaraderie. Whether played locally or over Xbox Live, Gears of War 2's campaign is an experience you want to share. Not only that, finding a strong comrade can really help improve your own score and skill level.
I was instantly drawn to Gears of War 2 by its loud brash (and adult/gory) presentation. There are few games I've played that have generated the same level of involvement in so short a time. Being chased down a hallway, double-teamed by Locusts, only to find a dead end, then turning to face my tormenters just as they land their finishing blow is an affecting experience to say the least.
It may not have the profile of Call of Duty or the big backing of Halo, but the gameplay of Gears of War 2 alone is reason enough to get stuck-in here. Combine this with the exquisitely gory visuals, not to mention the tactics and efficient enemy characters, and it becomes a title you have to play - again and again.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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