This is the day we take the battle to the heart of the enemy. This is the day that we correct the course of human history. This is the day we ensure our survival as a species! Soldiers of the COG, my fellow Gears, go forth, and bring back the hope of humanity!
~Chairman Richard Prescott
February is the month for romance, for candy hearts and flowers and chocolates… for love. So it’s only natural that the community chose one of the most romantic games of all time for the February 2023 TA Playlist. That game, of course, was Gears of War 2.
Well, romantic might be a bit of a stretch, but in between all the blood and guts and explosions, Gears 2 is a game with a lot of heart – three of them during the Riftworm level alone! Okay, okay, I’ll stop. Seriously, does the community still love this game in 2023, or has it been left behind by the more recent offerings? Fire up your chainsaw guns and read on to find out.
The original Gears of War was developed by Epic Games and published by Xbox Game Studios for the Xbox 360 in November of 2006, quickly becoming one of the highest-rated games of the year and all but guaranteeing a sequel. Two years later, in November 2008, Gears of War 2 released to similar commercial and critical success.
Gears 2 did what all good 2nd games should. It improved on every aspect of Gears 1.
Third-person shooters and space marines were already well-established tropes before Gears of War came onto the scene, but the series did receive praise for new gameplay elements, such as the extensive cover system, destructible environments, and the “active reload” idea, all of which served to set this game apart from other games in the genre. And just in case any of you have been holding out for fifteen years for the opportune time to start this series, be warned that there will be spoilers ahead for the first two games.
The series opens on the planet Sera, where humanity is fighting for its very survival against a subterranean reptilian species known as the Locust. These vicious enemies burst forth to attack the surface world on what has become known as Emergence Day, and the forces of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) have been fighting a losing battle against the Locust Horde for the past fifteen years.
The first entry begins with disgraced COG soldier Marcus Fenix in a military prison, convicted of abandoning his post several years prior. Fenix is rescued by his former squadmate and best buddy Dominic “Dom” Santiago, handed a full pardon and pressed back into service with Delta Squad. Their mission is to head into enemy territory to find a “resonator” device that will map the tunnels and caverns of the Hollow, the origin of the Locust, in order to effectively deploy a Lightmass Bomb that will destroy the Locust once and for all.
Delta Squad manages to locate the resonator, rescuing fellow Gears Damon Baird and Augustus Cole along the way. Eventually, they manage to deploy the Lightmass Bomb, which deals a blow to the Locust but doesn’t wipe them out completely. That sets us up nicely for the sequel, which most commenters felt was an improvement over the first game.
Gears was great in my younger years. Gears 1 was a solid introduction to more hardcore themes for a shooter, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In my opinion, Gears 2 took all the same aspects and slightly improved them to make a more polished game. The emotional storytelling really hit me when I was younger… Overall, I wish the later games were better, and I could re-experience my first playthroughs of the early gears games.
It’s been six months of relative peace for the humans on Sera, but trouble is brewing as two human cities suddenly disappear underground. The COG suspects that the Locust has returned and is now threatening Jacinto, one of humanity’s last and most secure strongholds. Fearing that the destruction of Jacinto would lead to a decisive final victory for the Locust, the COG leadership decides to launch a full assault on the Hollow to cut off the head of the snake. Or, as it turns out, to cut out the heart of the worm…
The COG forces descend into the Hollow to fight the Locust in their own territory. Marcus and Dom are joined by new squadmates Tai Kaliso and Benjamin Carmine, and later on, regroup with their old friends Cole and Baird.
Best of the series for me. A big step up from the first even had a story (face it, there barely was one in the first game), and it had some great impactful moments, as others have mentioned. I also played a lot of the online and horde mode and loved it.
As they explore deeper into the Hollow, Delta Squad learns that the Locust is using a monstrous beast called a Riftworm to bore new tunnels beneath the surface and sink the human cities. Delta Squad gets swallowed by the Riftworm, but they don’t let that stop them – traversing through the guts of the gargantuan creature, they find and destroy the worm’s three hearts, killing the beast in one of the bloodiest (at least in terms of pure volume) scenes in video gaming.
Before Delta Squad can even wash the blood out of their hair, COG command sends them to an abandoned research facility that held classified intel about the Locust Queen. Unfortunately, the facility also houses hundreds of vats containing “sires,” which appear to be mutated proto-Locust monsters. Marcus and Dom fight their way through the facility, find the coordinates of the Locust capital under Mount Kadar, and escape just as the area is overrun by Locust forces.
Heading back underground, Delta Squad sets out to find the Queen, but Dom has learned that his wife Maria might be a prisoner of the Locust, so he and Marcus take a detour to search for her. Surprisingly, they manage to locate the pod that Maria is in, and there’s a brief moment of hope as Dom opens the door, and she steps out… only to find that she’s basically catatonic from the torture she’s endured at the hands of the Locust. Marcus can only watch helplessly as his buddy slowly realizes what he must do.
It was a surprisingly emotional scene in a game that was mostly filled with violent action and the occasional bit of dark humour, and it seemed to really have an impact on many of the people who commented in the forums.
Slayer Reigning said:
Maria’s scene brought some tears to my eyes
No doubt. One of the saddest scenes I remember in the entire Gears series. You can feel a part of Dom dying as well.
Sebacean Hybrid said:
I really enjoyed this one. When they find Dom’s wife and she comes out all beautiful, I was definitely thinking, “Uhhhhh what? HOW!?!” But then you cut to Marcus’ face and pretty quickly realize Dom isn’t seeing reality, some really good stuff.
Tai’s death wasn’t huge in the story, but it emphasized just how bad things were. I remember thinking if that happened to Tai, it could happen to anyone, nobody is safe. Maria… that scene was perfectly sad. I loved that after her death, Marcus talks to Dom and says we can go the long way and be quiet or go through the front door and basically attract everyone. Dom says I wanna kill them all, and I could just feel his rage, no way was I gonna let one grub slip by.
Dom’s feelings aside, the Gears still have a job to do, so he and Marcus regroup with the rest of Delta Squad, slicing their way through hordes of enemies as they make their way to the Nexus, the capital city of the Locust. Delta Squad confronts Queen Myrrah in her palace, surprised that she appears more human than most other Locust. Myrrah reveals that the Locust plan to sink Jacinto in order to flood the Hollow and destroy the Lambent, a variant of Locust who have been mutated by contact with Imulsion, a plan proposed by Marcus’s own father, Adam Fenix.
The Gears defeat General Skorge, but that buys enough time for the Queen to escape. Marcus realizes that the Queen’s plan might work to take out both the Lambent and the Locust if they can sink Jacinto themselves before the Locust can escape. Delta Squad assists in evacuating the city, then hijack a brumak and head back down to carry out the plan, sinking the city and destroying the Nexus. As with the first game, however, Queen Myrrah’s voiceover at the end reveals that the Locust may not be gone for good…
The Gears franchise is my favourite Xbox franchise, and Gears 2 is what took it from good to great. Sequels today too often don’t add anything worth while or new, the main character might get a hair cut, but that’s it. Gears 2 improves virtually everything and did so at such a level the sequels of today fail to live up to expectations.
New Characters – Tai, a badass that even badasses look up to. Dizzy is a funny character and shows you don’t have to be 300 pounds of twisted steel to kill grubs.
Improved story – Everything about this story is better than the original. A good variety of a few light-hearted moments to go with an overall dark game. Gears 2 showed how to pull off impactful deaths.
HawkeyeBarry20 also went on to list some of the new features that elevated Gears 2 above its predecessor, such as meatshields, frag tags, new weapons and new enemies, and of course, Horde mode. In addition to the standard online multiplayer PvP modes, Horde Mode offered players the option to play cooperative PvE against increasingly difficult waves of Locust enemies.
I like it best as the game that brought Horde to the Gears series, despite Gears Of War 3 being better in almost every single way. Still quality though
Anima Pura said:
A great game that popularised what’s now called “wave-based PvE” gameplay. I didn’t appreciate the grind for Veteran Gear, though, although it was easier when the game was alive.
As always, when we look at games from a series, there are various opinions in the forums as to where each game ranks in relation to the others. While most people thought that Gears 2 was an improvement over the first, even that feeling wasn’t universal:
Not as good as the first one, in my opinion, but still a solid entry in the series.
More frequently, though, the debate came down to whether the second or third entry was best:
This is my favourite Gears game and, in my opinion, the peak of the franchise. While Gears 3 was a good conclusion and a good game itself, I felt like 2 was just that bit better
Khyser Bier said:
A big improvement over the first game, which was a bit dull and drab, though the subsequent jump in quality between this one and Gears 3 is probably even bigger. Excellent game, though to this day
Flik Nightshade said:
I’ve mostly enjoyed the original trilogy of Gears games, but Gears 2 was the game that captured me the most where I spent a genuine amount of time with the campaign, multiplayer and horde.
A big improvement over the first game but nowhere near the heights they reached with GoW3, my favourite and the Gears game they haven’t got close to since for me. Still a top game though and holds up pretty well today on Series X.
Cylon 118 said:
Just finished a Gears 2 playthrough with a friend who has never played the gears games before and he really enjoyed the first one but loved this one as everything in it is better. Better campaign as each level is much more unique and the cheese factor is pushed to 11!!
And while the overall impressions for this game were positive, there were some posts in the forum that weren’t quite so keen on the series:
Dr Marty said:
I was coerced into starting the DLC for this game by a buddy…. 50 hours later it was finally finished. Have not touched another Gears game since. Seriously…
As for the games themselves, the whole macho, gruff space marine aesthetic was never my thing, even back then. Not that they’ll ever go away completely, but I’m glad games have moved away from that protagonist archetype more and more now. That said, the longshot sniper rifle is probably one of the most satisfying sniper rifles to use in gaming.
Still, most of the people who commented considered the Gears of War series, and especially the first few games, to be some of the best of the Xbox 360 generation. The series still has plenty of interest from fans, and with The Coalition working on Gears of War 6 and a live-action feature film in development from Netflix (possibly featuring Dave Bautista as Marcus Fenix), we haven’t heard the last of Delta Squad.
A total of 2,308 tracked gamers played Gears of War 2 in January, with 614 starting it for the first time. The TA Community unlocked 20,509 achievements in the game for a grand total of 322,840 Gamerscore or 482,595 TrueAchievement Score.
Gears of War 2 has a grand total of 79 achievements worth 1,750 GS and 3,477 TrueAchievement score, meaning that the game as a whole has a TA ratio of about 1.99. The Playlists unlocks during the month had an average ratio of ~1.49, so more of the achievements unlocked this month were from the low-ratio, early-game, story-related achievements than the high ratio achievements from the DLC or the massive 5.24 ratio Seriously 2.0, which demands 100,000 kills across all game modes, and is honestly one of the biggest complaints about this game (and the Gears series as a whole):
RapieR 333 said:
I have never played a Gears game, and honestly, the Seriously achievements are a large factor. I don’t mind a grind, but I do not enjoy multiplayer. I would love to see a set of remasters or remakes with just the campaigns.
While this achievement was definitely a turn-off to a lot of players, many of our commenters pointed out that looking at the whole series, Seriously 2.0 was probably the best of the bunch.
Piemanns Bakery said:
After a not-so-fun grind for Seriously in Gears 1 (achievement came waaaaaaaay after 10,000 kills on the in-game leaderboard) and then the hell that became Seriously in Gears 3, Gears 2 remains my favourite from the series. Many good, fun hours were spent playing with the great group we had going back then. Good memories and times had running through the new horde mode and the other MP modes.
To this day, it’s my only Gears game. Everyone knows about the Seriously achievements by this point (and my hat’s off to those who go for them!), but let’s not forget that all Gears games have amazingly grindy achievements in general. Each game strives to outdo the last, it seems.
Despite the notorious grind, 24 players managed to unlock Serious 2.0 during the month of February, and surprisingly, that wasn’t even the least-unlocked achievement! Party Like It’s 1999 was only unlocked 23 times during the month, and several DLC achievements saw even fewer unlocks than that. The Japanese Stack did see some action during the month, but the most common achievements were only unlocked 10 times, fewer than any of the achievements from the US version. All in all, 46 tracked gamers managed to finish off the game during February.
Since no one ran the table and unlocked all 79 of the game’s achievements in February, there aren’t any Shout-Outs for getting 100% during the month, so instead, we’re putting up a Shout-Out List for everyone who popped the Seriously 2.0 achievement (online) during the month. Congrats to the 21 gamers who mopped up those last kills to add one of the grindiest achievements of the Xbox 360 era, and thanks to everyone who played along with us this month!
The theme for March is Metroidvania Madness, and there are still a few days left for you to jump in with the poll winner, Ori and the Blind Forest. We hope you enjoy this beautiful adventure, and don’t forget to comment in the Spoiler-Free and Spoiler Discussion Threads to tell us about your experiences as you explore the forest!
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