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Gears of War 2

Fresh Gears of War 2 impressions

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Gamereactor's Norwegian editor Carl Thomas Aarum travelled to London to take part in the European Gears of War 2 press event starring Cliff Bleszinski and the Locust. We have translated his impressions...

"...Finally I get to put my hands on the controller, and step into the boots of Marcus Fenix once again. It feels good. Very good. My very first steps in the single player campaign of Gears of War 2. I'm in Jacinto, the last refuge of humanity. The Jacinto plateau is so thick that the Locust cannot penetrate the surface. I rush through the tutorial, since I have no need for it. The controls are fairly similar to the first game, with just a few small adjustments. It's a fantastic feeling. I am Marcus again. And I'm loving every second of it.

I'm quickly woken up from my dreamlike state, as we are called upon to quickly stem an attack from the Locust. They are attempting to reach the city, and we have to drive them out again. The ride through Jacinto, shows plenty of signs of earlier battles. The sun is high, and shines beautifully down on the ravaged streets. There is more colour in the sequel. Not a lot of it, but enough of it for it to be a noticeable change. The hospital in the beginning alone has more colour than all of the original game. But it is not until we end up on on a transport the size of an oil rig (translator's note: All Norwegians can relate to this) that I fully realise how spectacular it is. The ride goes down a mountain side lined a thriving forest. It is fall on Sera. The foliage is painted in green, red, orange and yellow colors, and the mountain tops are white with snow. The sky is blue, pink and purple, and out of a black hole in the back the enemy is pouring out. With the mounted gun at the back of the vehicle I mow down hundreds of Locust in less than a minute. Aaaaaahahahahaha! What a feeling! I'm in heaven! The giant Brumaks are walking all around me, and the sky is filled with exploding flying objects. I feel right at home.

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We are heading for the mountain town of Landown, where the ground is perfect for drilling. And that's where we are headed - down through the mines to where the Locust resides. But before we reach our goal, we have to make our way through long, dark tunnels. In the darkness we get attacked by a new enemy - the Ticker. They look like giant cockroaches. They rush towards you and explode as they are close enough to do damage. They are relatively simple to take out with the shotgun or the Lancer, but they can also be used offensively. Hit one of them with the butt of your weapon, and you will knock them forward a few yards. As they lie helpless on their backs, they go from being a dangerous enemy to a useful tool. Wait until a few more enemies are close by, and blow them all to hell. Wonderful.

Something even sweeter is the Mortar Cannon. It is incredibly heavy, so you will be relatively immobile while carrying it along. But on the upside it grants you plenty of explosive power. It is quickly put to good use on a roof in Landown. Across the street a bit further down the road there are some members of the horde. They are an estimated 70 or 80 yards away. Marcus kneels down, places the Mortar Cannon on the ground, and takes aim. 70 yards. Three clicks. The round leaves the cannon in a high arch, and divides over the target area. What once was a group of Locust has been turned into moist chunks of rocks, wooden splinters and meat. I scream of joy! I've never felt this way about a weapon before.

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I played through all of the first act, while in London, and cannot wait to continue the campaign. Right at the end we get a glimpse of what I assume is the main enemy in the game - corresponding to Raam in the original. His name is Skorge, and is a very agile and tough gentleman. He is clearly inspired by Eastern warriors, samurais and ninjas, and fights with a long staff with a chainsaw at each end (it is Gears of War afterall). He is also butt ugly. I only get to see him split a tank in two, as Dom and Marcus tumble down into the ground below, to take the battle to the home turf of the Locust.

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In London we also got to see the brand new Horde mode (announced at E3). Five players team up on a multiplayer map, and the goal is to survive 50 attack waves of Locust. With every wave, the Locust grow stronger, quicker and more dangerous. It really requires teamwork, and has an hypnotic quality when you get into it. Challenging and very entertaining!

After four hours hands-on with Gears of War 2 I'm over the moon. My body is filled with adrenaline, and it is trembling as I wear a smile from ear to ear. The game is fantastic. It is tighter, more explosive and faster paced than the original. It is cinematic, beautiful, and epic, while it still manages to be more tense and direct."

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