So I’ve played Gears of War 2 in co-op with Casper (as it really should be played). As far as I can tell, we made it almost through act 4 out of 5, and I loved it. It’s the same solidly entertaining core gameplay as the first game, but with many many welcome additions. Its vehicle sections are far better executed and more fun than its predecessor’s, the parts where you have to split up are much better at making you assist each other, and the plot is not only slightly deeper, the background story is actually in the game.
To get any idea about Gears of War 1‘s story, you had to read the manual. The sequel actually features exposition! Groundbreaking. In the junction between story and gameplay, Gears 2 has some outright extraordinary setpieces and scripted sequences. Especially one of the boss fights is completely ludicrous but so awesome – Gears 1 seems low-key and modest in comparison, even that game’s train sequence has absolutely nothing on Gears 2.
My only real complaint, delivered in as spoiler-free a manner as possible, is that the worm-level is way too fond of killing you instantly when you make a wrong step. Honestly I thought we were past the teach-by-death phase by now.
So it’s still not an intellectual game, but it gets several thumbs up from me. It excels at everything that its predecessor does well, and then it fixes almost every complaint I had about the first game. It even has a couple of really well executed character development cutscenes. It’s not out yet, but if you liked the first one, make sure you get this when it’s released (on Friday). And for the love of God, play it in co-op.