Gears of War 2 has played a major part in Microsoft's E3 2008 strategy. This is not a shock. However, what was on show – playable, to those with either a lot of patience, or a friend in the right place – will strike many as an unexpected blow.
Firstly; the bad news. While Co-Operative play remains intact, the game's main Campaign is still limited to two-players as opposed to following Halo 3's widening to allow for up to four online. That said, there has been a new gameplay mode announced that will no doubt make-up for the loss, and sees the game arriving much sooner, as the balancing of the Campaign for four-players would no doubt be quite a task within the two-years the since the original Gears of War release.
Horde Mode allows up to five-players to join together online and battle an endless supply of foes. The mode is divided into Rounds, each getting progressively difficult, and apparently Round 26 is the furthest any member of the Epic Games team has managed to get. 50 Rounds will be included in the final build, for those with the tenacity to endeavour that far. Once reaching numbers as high as Round 15, the game dissolves any strategically balanced plans the player team may have developed, as a repeated series of strikes and bombardments leave the players with the feeling that the Locust army is breathing-down-their neck at all moments, and an unsettling sense of dread sets-in. Immediately, Gears of War 2 offers a vital aspect of modern day Third-Person Action gaming that was noticeable by it's absence in the first title – the small-cog feeling.