Jared Newman, Aaron Cooley-Themm, and Lawrence Sonntag had the chance to sit down and discuss the hottest release of the pre-holiday season, Gears of War 2, in TGR’s first Textcast. What did they think? Read on to find out.
[Aaron]: Thanks for joining our first ever The Game Reviews Textcast. We have Jared Newman, Lawrence Sonntag, and me, Aaron Cooley-Themm, and we are here to talk about Gears of War 2, one week later. After playing through, what do you guys think?
[Jared]: Well, I approached Gears of War 2 with some skepticism. This is going to sound obvious, but these blockbuster sequels always promise us the world, and almost always come up short. That is, if you don’t like more of the same. Gears of War 2 suffered from a bit of that, but they really tried to keep things interesting with some great set pieces and special sequences. So ultimately, I think they pulled it off.
[Lawrence]: I’ve been extremely satisfied with it. Gears 2 is everything Gears 1 was but better – which is what a sequel should be in my eyes. I think people have a tendency to work themselves up with expectations for big titles. Some people are disappointed in Gears 2, but I have a hard time trying to imagine just what they were expecting.
[Jared]: Now, I do disagree with that, Lawrence. I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think my expectations were high. Sequels inherently suffer from being sequels. And I don’t think Gears of War 2 floored me the way the first one did.
[Aaron]: I would have to say that mine were a little high and I did get let down a bit, but I would agree.
[Lawrence]: Ahh, I think you’ve hit on it exactly. People play a new game and feel a certain way. Then they play a sequel and are shocked that it’s not as "new" as the first one.
[Jared]: Is that problematic, do you think?
[Lawrence]: Absolutely, but I think the problem there is with the gamers, not the developers, unless the developers should be called to always make new games forever, which is a bit unrealistic I think.
[Aaron]: I think we as gamers need to go in with a level head. Sometimes we expect the world and don’t get it, and it’s a let down. On the other hand, if developers don’t do enough new stuff then we are left feeling we just played the same game twice.
[Jared]: Lawrence, your statement that "Gears 2 is everything Gears 1 was but better" — We need to delve into that.
[Lawrence]: Yeah that is a bit of a loaded statement isn’t it?
[Jared]: Well, first of all, why do you think its better?
[Lawrence]: Hmm broad question. I’ll throw out a few details. The campaign goes through so many original areas and has lots of cool battles, the story offers more little hints for people looking for them, the difficulty was tuned much better, the additions to multiplayer all work well and increase the variety of play… I can keep going but there’s enough to work on there.
[Aaron]: I thought the story left too much out there. What about you guys?
[Jared]: I agree, Aaron. Same symptoms as last time, where the characters seem to act on these tiny scraps of intelligence, so insignificant that halfway through the mission you stop and wonder what the hell your goal is.
[Lawrence]: Well … I think most of the plot in Gears is subtle. Intentionally so, though. The characters don’t restate everything they know about everything because, well, that’s lame. "Go attack this fort" "You mean the fort where this and this happened?" The plot is there. You just have to think about it and connect the details behind the scenes.
[Jared]: I guess I could be paying better attention during the cutscenes. But after an hour of intense action, you tend to de-focus for a few minutes. Maybe I was just high on shooting things. Either way, you’ve got to reinforce some of the plot elements during the gameplay so you remember what you’re doing.
[Lawrence]: Well, for one style of storytelling, yes, but I don’t think that was their intent. The idea is that the next time you play it, you pick up on something you didn’t see before.
[Jared]: Sorry I don’t agree with that. 15 hours is enough for me. Movies a second time? Sure. Games? You got one shot.
[Lawrence]: Well, for you, yeah. And you should probably stay away from stories like this. I think that they achieved what they were going for. If having a direct, well-understood plot is what you want, you won’t get it in Gears 2, though.
[Aaron]: Dom to me just felt "girly."
[Jared]: Whoa, whoa. Why, because of the girlfriend subplot?
[Lawrence]: How dare a dude have feelings, right?
[Aaron]: Gears to me always had edginess to it and Dom was always a bad dude like Marcus, and in this one it felt as if they were disconnected from that edginess.
[Jared]: The plot line with Dom was a bit melodramatic, but it was also the most memorable.
[Aaron]: You are right. I can’t forget it. I also felt like this suffered from the Halo 2 blues, meaning that they left you hanging.
[Lawrence]: I think it was conclusive enough for a game that’s obviously not the end of the story. At least it didn’t end with Marcus storming the Locust castle.
[Aaron]: What was your favorite part of the game, either in story or in gameplay?
[Lawrence]: I liked the hints they dropped about Marcus’ father. Gives me some ideas about why he was labeled a "traitor" at the beginning of the first game.
[Aaron]: I really liked the giant worm portion of the game that to me felt different and new. It was a unique form of storytelling and gameplay, and buckets of blood. Could it get any better?
[Jared]: I’d have to agree with Aaron. The worm was awesome. Contra homage, anyone?
[Aaron]: So, final score?
[Lawrence]: I think Gears 2 expands on the first one, and every expansion adds to the game. As such, Gears 2 is just an all-around better package. I’d give it an 8.
[Jared]: Hmm. Not a big score fan myself, but I’ll spare you that rant and give it an 8.5.
[Aaron]: Though it was a little on the stale side to me, it was Gears and it is tough to argue with that. It suffered a bit from Halo’s success in the amount of mirroring of the story that they did, but overall, I liked it. It was fun, but once through the game is enough and the multiplayer has little to offer in my opinion. I give it a 7.5.
[Jared]: Man you guys are tough scorers. I thought I liked the game less than both of you … thus pointing out the weakness in scoring systems.
[Lawrence]: Well that’s like, out of all games I’ve ever l played ever. But yeah, exactly. One man’s 7 is another man’s 9.
[Jared]: I’ll just reiterate my original point. The game did not hit me the way the first one did. But Epic did a great job of adding all sorts of new elements, particularly to the single player, and it was probably the most admirable attempt at a sequel I’ve seen in quite some time.
[Aaron]: Thanks guys. That will about wrap it up. Thanks to our beloved readers for checking out the first-ever Textcast. Join us next week when The Game Reviews tackles Mirror’s Edge.