Gears of War 2 - Multiplayer Hands On
Written Monday, September 29, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
For me, the original Gears was all about the multiplayer. Sure, the campaign was great, but it was the multiplayer arena that sucked up most of my time and after spending an afternoon on Gears of War 2’s “Horde” mode, I can see this one taking just as much of my time, if not more.
The whole purpose of Horde was to give groups of 2 to 5 players a co-operative experience they could thrive on. Instead of adding more players to the story mode and decreasing the individual stories exponentially, this is Epic’s solution to that problem and I think it’s one of the great additions to the series by far this year.
Cliff Bleszinski, Epic's Design Director, describes Horde as “Smash TV meets Geometry Wars”. The whole point of the game is to survive and destroy wave after wave of computer controlled Locust, but the further you get in, the harder it gets and the more points you rack up. This isn’t a short mode by any means, in the space of a couple of hours we only got as far as wave 18, so realistically, you’re looking at a good 6-10 hour solid stretch to complete the 50 waves and get that wave 50 achievement. Oh and that’s in one sitting! Don’t worry though, if you all die, you can start from the beginning of the wave you are on but lose all your points. Let’s put that in perspective, Bleszinski himself has only reached wave 27 and the testing team have only reached level 50 very recently.
The waves work in classes and in groups of 10; so you’ll start the first few phases taking out a few Tickers and then as you move up to waves 3 and 4, you’ll see some Boomers and Maulers join the fray and then as you reach waves 8, 9 and 10 you’ll have bits of everything trying to hunt you down, especially the powerful Blood Mounts who can cripple a whole team in a matter of minutes. Once you clear 10, the enemies reset back to the wave 1 horde but they get upgrades in accuracy, shields and so on, meaning the further you get, the harder your foes will be. This pretty much means waves 11 and 12 will be easier than waves 9 and 10, so you’ll get a few modes to recover the intensity that is a result of the higher waves.
It’s necessary to work as a team and use the power weapons on the map to gain a decent defensible position, but beware, the Maulers will charge you with their mace so working as a team to eliminate the more damaging foes early on is a necessity.
We got to spend a lot of time of both the “river” and “security” maps which were both built really well. River is a series of log cabins surrounded by a road and a river that was tough to gain control on in the Horde mode simply because of the sheer size and lack of good defensible positions. The second map, security was a little easier and was set in an environment surrounded with huge stone, weathered architecture with a laser security system that was deadly to touch. On security, there was a great tunnel system at the back that allowed a team of 5 to defend from a decent position against the waves of Locust.
The new weapons in the game are absolutely fantastic, not only the new heavy weapon class, but even the new Gorgon pistol is a powerful beast and I spent most my time wielding this. The new heavy weapon class consists of three monster weapons; the Scorcher, the Mulcher and the Mortar.
The Scorcher is a flamethrower that can melt the hearts of even the strongest Locust and the visual effect of the character models under the intense heat is a hugely impressive effect. Hit an active reload perfectly whilst equipped with the flamethrower and see your flames get extended distance, rather than power. The Mulcher is a Gatling gun and once you set this bad boy up on the floor, it can rip through whatever the Locust throw at you, however, don’t expect to be very mobile with it. Last, but by no means least is my personal favourite, the Mortar gun. The Mortar gun will take some perfecting, but after a while, when you get a long range hit right with this bad boy, you’ll be admiring your handy work as that Boomer in the distance gets obliterated by a shower of mortar missiles. In order to aim, you line it up on your screen and then hold the fire button down till you are happy you have judged the distance correct. The longer you hold it down the further it goes and getting used to this is most definitely a case of practice makes perfect.
The game also features a new type of grenade that casts a harmful gas where it explodes and the resulting gas hangs damaging anything within its range and even weapons like the hammer burst (which is now fully automatic with a slower rate of fire) have been revamped to the nth degree.
Other than Horde, Gears of War 2 offers gamers competitive player versus player multiplayer in 3 announced modes so far; Wingman which is essentially 5 teams of 2 in a free-for-all, last team standing event, Submission which is a one flag, capture-the-flag mode where the flag is a downed computer controlled AI opponent that becomes a flag when used as a meat shield, and finally, Assassination 2.0 which is a streamlined version of the original assassin where the fallen team members keep respawning until the leader is dead ... again, last team standing wins.
If Gears of War 2 shipped with Horde alone, I’d buy it. All you need to do is get a decent crew of friends together and this is possibly all you’ll ever need. Horde however is only a small fraction of what Gears of War 2 has to offer and it makes the game a more complete package and now seems to boast a mode for every mood. The new weapons and maps that we managed to get some time with were fantastic and Bleszinski even spoke briefly of an avalanche level that sounds utterly destructive. Check back in November to see what we think of the finished product, but for now, get prepared to lose a few hours in November trying to get to wave 50 on Horde.
Gears of War 2 is available exclusively on Xbox 360 and will be released worldwide on November 7th.