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Gears of War 2: More Impressions

Just finished Act 3 last night, daaaamn! I think the best way to play campaign is multiplayer (co-op) with a friend nearby (either in splitscreen or a second console). Some scenarios in the first three acts are just too much fun when your buddy is right there with you in the room and you can just tell each other what to do (and you can see his/her POV). It's extremely entertaining during certain boss fights :) And perhaps the best difficulty level for players who've already played shooters is HARDCORE; we found ourselves restarting some spots because the enemies were really more challenging (and winning is that much more satisfying). The tension is higher, the possibility of dying is real, and the game takes longer to finish. Why play on NORMAL or CASUAL and water down your experience if you've already played every shooter there is in the book? If you're starting on the game, but you do have the playing experience with shooters, HARDCORE is the way to go. At least, if you plan on playing this game just once in your entire life, your one experience with the game will be the best one you've ever had in YEARS.

How many times did I find myself thinking, "Shit, this *is* GOTY!" throughout my time playing this game in campaign mode? I can't count anymore. Sometimes it's the little scenarios in each act which blow me away (the way the game doesn't always involve shooting, although there's still a heck of a LOT of shooting), sometimes it's the environments, which are just jaw-dropping, sometimes it's the overall feel, presentation, design, enemy variety and A.I., which is far, far polished from Gears 1. Granted, in terms of pure innovation perhaps you could say Gears 2 doesn't have anything completely new, but in terms of presentation, immersion and overall experience, Gears 2 just delivers.

Each Act seems to take about 3 hours, which is pretty long already. Combined [since it's five acts] I'm guessing this game is 10-15 hours (just a guess, since I'm not done yet; i don't know if the last two acts will be as long as the previous three). Perhaps I'm taking so long because I started on HARDCORE difficulty, but it's making the first play-through experience totally satisfying for me. Awesome game. GOTY! GOTY! GOTY!

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