8 Minutes Later: Gears of War 2

I must admit, after spending so much time with the original Gears of War (Senior News Anchor note: an entire 8 minutes!) I couldn’t wait to get back into the fray. After all, what was to become of my giant, meat-faced, convict protagonist and equally enlarged Latin savior, Guy Who’s Name I Don’t Remember?

And so begins my full, 8 minute playthrough of Gears of War 2. Buckle your safety belts, here we go.

I hit start at the main menu while simultaneously clicking “go” on an 8-minute timer. I choose a solo campaign and pick a new save slot. Then select Hardcore Mode (because Normal Mode is for people who can’t handle the truth).

I’m immediately thrown into an epic cutscene, voiced by some faux-Lord of the Rings Narrator Lady. She’s going on and on about power and blah… enough already, this is Gears of the War, not Lord of the Rings — stop wasting my precious 8 minutes with your ghost-turd people and explosions and armored meatheads. Let’s just skip all that and get straight to the dying, like I did with the original Gears of War.

So skip it I did, which leads me to another cutscene. I’m standing outside of a hospital presumably full of people I’ve put bullets into. I’m standing there, talking with Large Latin Guy and some blonde lady. This chapter is titled “Tip of the Spear,” so the sequel has either spiced up the adult content (hopefully!), or ditched the violently creative high-tech chainsault rifles from the first game in favor off far more primitive weaponry (which, admittedly, could also be pretty cool).

Either way, this is much better than waking up in jail, so I must have put my criminal past behind me to become an accepted member of society. It sounds like I’m in the army now, and they’ve actually put me in charge! Oh wait, apparently I’m not all that and a bag of chips, after all. I’m in charge of training this worthless rookie solder that just bumbled his way off a chopper and into my lap. Great.

This worthless human fumblecopter had better be half cat, because he’s going to die 8 times before he can find the trigger on his chainsault rifle if this game is anything like the first one. The good news is that he’s sporting about half a ton of metal armor, including a really sweet helmet with glowing blue eyeholes. It might stop some of the enemy bullets (but probably not the chainsaw app on my gun, if a little friendly fire becomes necessary).

Just like the first game, I’m given the chance to jump right into the fray, or train the rook… umm… yeah. After dying my way through the first 8 minutes of Gears of War, I decided to train the rook. Welcome to Delta squad, you bleepedy bleep beeping bleep.  Woah, this game is totally wearing out its PG-13 welcome already, and we haven’t even found out what “tip of the spear” means yet… SWEET!

It becomes immediately clear that “training the rook” means walking through an empty alleyway — and the rook just won’t shut up. At least through all the mindless banter I was able to decipher that I am apparently some kind of hero from the Pendulum Wars. I’m not sure what those were, so I Googled pendulum and discovered that it’s a weight suspended from a pivot so it can swing freely.  My beefy, cannonball-like physique made me the perfect weapon during these primitive times, apparently.

Enough with all that! I’m not here to sign autographs, Kiddo, I’m here to learn you the basics of modern warfare. As such, we appear to have hit a point of natural progression through these empty alleyways, which allows me to teach you the Golden Rule… and no, Nancyboy, this ain’t yer mammy’s Golden Rule about respecting your fellow man. In these here hard times, your fellow man apparently wants to eat your babies like a dingo. So, my Golden Rule is “take cover or die”.

Excuse me, but I would like to take this moment to ask… exactly how do I enlist with the enemy? If our main tactic is to cower in fear, I’d really like to join the other team. The good news is that we seem to have learned our lessons from the Pendulum War, and no longer dangle soldiers from pivots to eventually become victims of friction and air drag, ultimately hanging motionless like perfectly oversized, screaming targets.

After learning the most important rule of Gears of War 2, we move on to encounter our first action of the day. Thankfully, the enemy does not see us as we move into position, cowering behind the cover of a thick concrete barrier. There, across the battlefield, sits an entire squadron of empty bottles.

With the element of surprise intact, we strike from behind and decimate their forces. Not a single bottle left standing. Upon surveying our victory, we discover this enemy sleeper cell was completely unarmed, and ultimately ill-prepared for battle. Were they truly enemy troops, or just a rogue band of receptacle refugees in the wrong place at the wrong time? We may never know, and quite frankly, never care as the thrill of victory flows through our veins.

As we begin to surge forward, the ominous bell of my 8-minute timer goes off. All the better, I guess, because who knows what might have happened if another, far more vicious cadre of bottles happened across our path. With this stupid, bumbling rookie in tow, I was kind of expecting the worst.

And so ends another 8-minute experience with the Gears of War franchise. My time spent leaves me feeling much more uplifted and secure about my video game prowess. I emerged from my Gears of War 2 experience completely unscathed; quite the departure from my initial experience with the immeasurable blood-bath that was the original Gears of War.

I can only assume that the game’s developer, Epic, learned a very important lesson from Gears 1. Gamers don’t like the never ending cycle of death and restart. They want to win. They want to feel the power of decimating everything in their path with vicious impunity.

As such, I can resoundingly state that Gears of War 2 is an incredible success. I crushed my deplorable enemies beneath the heel of my 500 pound metal boot, and yearned for more. Show me what you’ve got, empty bottles… I’m ready to rock and roll! Bring on the final chapter, Gears of War 3, it’s time to end this war, once and for all!!!

About Tony Lorenzen

Tony Lorenzen, a.k.a. the Midnite Rambler, may just be a bad enough dude to rescue the president... but he's still no Snake Plissken.