Gears of War 2 and Far Cry 2 – both sequels to hugely popular games of which I was a big fan.
GOW2 improves on every aspect of the original. Additional weapons and tweaks add greatly to the gameplay.
The campaign is longer, prettier and scarier. My bro-in-law – a huge, huge Gears fan – claims that the franchise has moved into the survival horror genre, with scenes of brutality, gore, and torture. I think he has a point.
The combat is sublime, with the Lancer (the game’s primary assault rifle) feeling more precise and powerful. Of the new weapons, my current favourite is the Mulcher, which is capable of tearing through waves of Locusts.
Indeed, if “waves” of enemies is your bag, you can join up with pals (online or splitscreen) and take on up to 50 waves of increasingly brutal Locusts in a new game mode called Hoard. Along with the improved multiplayer system, the fantastic campaign and Hoard, Gears 2 makes for an outstanding game. 10/10
I’ve played much more Far Cry 2 than Gears, simply because the campaign is h.u.g.e.
Spanning over 20km of jungle, river, dessert and townships, the game plays rather like a mixture of the first Far Cry (think crawling through the beautifully rendered undergrowth and jumping out on unsuspecting goons), and Grand Theft Auto Four (think “sandbox gameplay” and lots of missions, side-missions, and travelling).
The combat is a little loose. But you soon get used to mixing it up a little, with rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, mortars, silenced pistols, RPGs and the famous machete.
A couple of noticeable improvements from the first game (which, incidentally, is developed by an entirely new team): No longer are you the charisma-less Jack Carver, and no longer is the game marred by the pointless mutant “Trigens”, who ruined the first game for me.
This time you’re a mercenary in an unnamed African state (Congo?). You play both sides of the civil war in an attempt to locate and kill a notorious arms dealer. The story is one of greed, desperation and double-crossing bastards.
It’s a joy, if not quite the killer title that Gears proved to be. 9/10
BTW. Both games have stunning graphics and sound. Tomorrow I’ll get chance to play Call of Duty 5, so I’ll be able to decide which has the more impressive visuals. The style and ambition of Gears trumps FC2, which is somewhat let down by pop-up and poor texture definition. That said, FC2’s use of lighting and weather effects have to be seen to be believed.