The second installment in Epic's dark and brutal sci-fi shooter justifies the incredible hype surrounding it, says Tom Hoggins.
With Gears of War 2 carrying the incredible weight of hype and expectation upon its impossibly large shoulders, it was always going to face a huge amount of scrutiny. Gamers and critics will pore over every inch of Epic Studios' well-oiled war machine, looking for the seams, seeing if the bows will break when given a hard enough prod.
Gears Of War 2
It's a phenomenon fairly unique to video games - hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned - so developers often succumb to the temptation to strengthen the foundations by laying on extra features in an attempt to confound expectations. More features, more characters, more, more, more. Inevitably, this can lead to the game collapsing under its own weight.
How Gears 2 avoids this problem is as subtle as a sledgehammer. Here is a game that pulls no punches - a brash, testosterone-fuelled, hyper-violent shooter that makes no apologies for what it is. Gears 2 is a sequel that remains true to its origins while being, in the words of Clifford Bleszinski, the lead designer, "bigger, better and more badass".