Written by Administrator Saturday, 18 June 2011 05:00
When big titles are releasing as often as they do, it can be pretty tough to find the time to really invest in a multiplayer experience. Every now and then there’s a short lull, usually lasting only a week or two, when I can play something in my back catalog. Normally I opt to go with a single player experience, because that’s more of my play style, but ever since the Gears of War 3 beta, I’ve had an itch for more, and since that’s not really a possibility until this fall, I settled on Gears of War 2 to feed my cravings. Getting into a game’s multiplayer this late into its life can be a frustrating experience, especially when the player base is as serious as it is with games like Gears, but for whatever reason, I decided that I needed to be competitive, and so away I went.
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Initially, and for longer than I probably should have, I sucked it up. I was usually the lowest scoring member on my team, and when things were close enough that I could have been the difference between victory and our sad, pathetic defeat, it was downright embarrassing. Hopefully no one reading this was a victim of my inexperience. If so, I’m sorry, but the good news is that things are looking up for both me and those who get matched up with me. The first trick was learning to use the game’s cover system to my advantage. Yes, I’d gone through the single player campaign a couple of times already. I even beat the game on hardcore, so I couldn’t have been that awful at it, but those skills didn’t seem to transfer to playing against real people. I started out playing really defensively, but it turns out that humans are much more aggressive than the AI, and so I had to quickly adjust to retreat more often than not.
Pretending to be a turtle only gets you so far though. Despite avoiding death a little bit better than before, I still wasn’t a real asset to my team. There’s a balance between cover and outright assault. Through sheer persistence, I eventually found that I knew the level layouts pretty well, and that’s key, as you need to know where to find special weapons. For those of you having issues with this, I recommend you check out the Annex multiplayer mode, which centers around teams controlling points on the map. Those points are conveniently the exact same places as where special items can be found, so not only do you get a very fun and more strategic experience than straight up execution, but you also get to know the levels better whether you like it or not.
Once you know where to get the big guns, you then need to know how to use them. Some of them, like the Boomshot, are simple and just need you to tell them where to explode. Others, like the Torque Bow, need a little more timing and finesse to really be effective. Either way, know your weapons. Even more important than getting the weapons yourself is knowing what each one looks like, sounds like, its range, and what it does. Having that knowledge will save your life time and time again while in a desperate duel for survival.
While we’re on the topic of guns, becoming familiar with the Gnasher (a fancy name for the shotgun) was, for me, the toughest part of getting used to Gears of War 2. Getting a grasp on at what distances the gun was useful, and in what circumstances, was the biggest difference between being an instrument of death and being, well, a noob. That doesn’t mean you should discredit the Lancer or Hammerburst (assault rifles) though. They too have their time and place, but the Gnasher has the benefit of one hit kills when used correctly.
Finally, make sure you play as a team. There’s a reason there aren’t any free-for-all match types in Gears of War 2, and that’s because the game is designed to be played with others in cooperation. Unlike most games, you can’t afford to go out on your own and expect to be successful. You’ll need cover fire and revivals from your team members, just as they’ll need the same from you, and in the end, I think that’s what really sets this game apart from more traditional online shooters.
It’s now time to queue the sappy music. As you can probably tell, I’ve evolved my play in Gears of War 2 and learned many life lessons that have made me a better person. I’m by no means an online superstar, but I can finally hold my own, and most importantly, really enjoy my experience online. Whether you’re just getting into the series or are a long time veteran, now is a better time than ever to get some time in with this game before it’s made defunct by its sequel.