Gears 2 Dark Corners Review
Tue Jul 28, 2009 at 04:51:15 PM EST
Welcome to Delta squad as you dive deeper into the hollow and the story that got caught on the cutting room floor with the new Dark Corners DLC for Gears of War 2. As you start up the deleted scene you are greeted by Cliff Bleszinski explaining the story that you are about to encounter and why sometimes things get deleted. It is Marcus and Dom on the highway to Nexus to stop the Locust Queen, with just learning about the fate of Maria (Dom's wife) and you have the choice of using stealth, or go in guns blazing.
Selecting the stealth option will have Marcus and Dom put on Locust Theron armor and try to sneak past the Locust to get to the queen. If you are playing this section by yourself Dom will take point and guide you through the area to avoid being detected. The Locust area is filled with different ladders and levers that control the big doors that will create sections for you to work in. Since you are still human and only wearing Locust armor, you still smell human so be careful and don't get too close to your enemies or they will start sniffing the air to detect you. Even if the Locust do grab your scent if you are quick enough you can run past them and not blow your cover, but if you are caught you can still fight it out and as you move into the next section everything will reset because the huge doors muffle the sounds of gunfire and fighting. You will find yourself with having to make some decisions on the fly and will find your path blocked by patrolling Locust, so look around to find levers or wheels to create some distractions and sneak past. One thing that is very interesting as you are presenting yourself as a Locust you will see them behave a little differently then they normally would, I saw a locust napping near a lever and a patrol of his friends had to smack him to wake him up and open the gate. As you progress through the areas you will find the human torture section where some of the Locust are picking on a human, forcing him into a torture coffin. You will come to a point where you see a long bridge and the doors opening to reveal a Brumack, so not to ruin the rest of the mission I will let you figure that out. Overall the stealth sequence is a little repetitive as you go through avoid detection flip levers and switches to cause distractions and open up gates, but honestly the change of pace from the constant shooting of enemies would of made a great element if this had made it into the original story, because it gives you a look into what the Locust are about and how they behave.
Drop the armor and check your weapons, it is time for revenge on the Locust. As the door opens in front of you start shooting, there no need to be subtle here. You will still find the enemies generally walking around, but now they are focused on killing you. Take cover and make your way through the areas, and don't forget to turn it around on the Locust and take their mounted machine guns and turn them into blood soup. You will find all sorts of different enemies to face against from the standard grenadiers all the way up to facing off against a Brumack. Be careful where you step because the Locust are a intelligent enough to set up traps for you and don't pull the wrong lever or you will find yourself in a holding cell. Now in the holding cell you will call on your favorite robot assistant Jack to rip the door open a few times to escape the area. With a few twists and turns from the stealth option, everything will look familiar enough where you will know what you need to do to defeat the Locust and make your way out of Nexus. Overall I enjoyed both options as each one brought something new and fresh to the gameplay with either sneaking around or just taking on new waves of enemies and running into old friends from Gears 1 that will make you laugh. If these options were included when the game shipped the story would of been a little richer and give you more background on what is happening with the characters.
Special note when you are in the pause menu for the new dark corners deleted scene you will notice some new darker music that is played on the piano, and for me it really struck me hard and that feel of desperate times of what Dom is going through at the given time in the story made the experience just a little deeper.
The new content isn't just the new single player experience there is tons to offer to the multiplayer space also with 7 maps.
All Fathers Garden
With a dark brooding feel to the map you find yourself in the midst of a storm with claps of thunder in the background. With archways and a waterfront view of the city you will find yourself fighting your way through the maze like area that is filled with walkways and stairs. At the top of the map you will find the sniper rifle placed on a ledge overlooking the area. Small trenches will keep you safe from the fire, but be careful as you turn corners you might find a surprise. You will find on the opposite side of the map is the boom shot, which is in a little area with church style windows of stained glass. This map has a Greek architecture style to it will all the statues holding COG symbols and vases scattered around the area. The map itself is symmetrical with equal placement for each team to grab weapons, and the decision on which power weapon to fight for either the sniper or the boom shot.
The map is set in an orange tint from the fire torches and locust architecture. You will find fire torches and chains around the map to set the mood of the primitive nature of the locust. When you spawn you have a choice to make either take the highroad or the lower path leading to the center of the map, choose wisely. You will find two sniper rifles on the map on dead end ledges on the lower part of the map. Pillars, columns and low barricades will make this map the ambush paradise, especially for grenades. With what seems like put aside hallways and paths, setting up and finding people on this map might be tricky at first, but the easy way to determine the two sides of the bases is that there is a spotlight on one side and the other side is a little darker. You will find an overhead balcony to get the vantage point to shoot down onto your enemies so holding the high ground will be essential especially if your team holds the sniper rifles. Use the size of the map to your advantage as you will be able to use the bait and switch method of play style very well to get a few kills with your team. If your lucky enough to catch it at the right time you will also find a Brumack walking the highway in the background.
Set in a COG cityscape with lush foliage and trees with the autumn tint you will find yourself looking at a big circular structure on one side of the map finding one of the power weapons. On the opposite side of the circular structure a set of stairs will take you up to find the sniper rifle. If you look over the edge you will find a forested area with the cityscape in the background, the area is lush with greens and yellows really creating a great environment. In the bottom center you will find the boom shot and underground tunnels on each side and if you look across you can see to the other side which should create some good long distance shooting aspects. The theme of the map reminds me a little of the map Jacinto with the same color palette and architecture.
What feel like something that was directly influenced by a ghost town you will find yourself in an abandoned town filled with empty gas stations, motels, broken down buildings and destroyed cars. The map gives you the feel of a desert with the dusty wind effects and silence. With random dust storms occasionally whipping up you will find yourself blinded and hard to find your enemies, use this to your advantage and flank around the map. The high ground will be a great advantage on this map as you get a clear shot from an amazing amount of angles. I find the best part of this map has to be the saloons where you can jump over the bar and take cover. This map feels like something the team has been working on for quite some time, and has had some great attention given to it.
Originally an exclusive map for the PC now makes its debut with some new and improved graphics. The setting is in cemetery where you will find lots of different pathways and stairs leading up and a bridge overlooking the area. You can find cover with tombstones and statues around the map with some low level fog, dead trees, and lamps to give you light to set the atmosphere of an abandoned cemetery. In the center of the map you will find it illuminated with a white light surrounded by pillars showing you where one of the power weapons is located. The walls are broken down and have cracks in the foundation, showing wear and tear for detailed effects. Bringing this map to the console will make some fans happy and the map will seem new if you didn’t get to play it on the PC.
A Gears 1 classic makes it way to Gears 2 as fans have requested this and many more maps to be made. The new look for the map along with some adjustments with weapon placement and selection hasn’t changed much. The map is placed in an abandoned terminal station where you will find seating and television monitors around the map with some high ground advantage and power weapons placed to cause a split from the initial spawn. The first thing veteran players will notice is that the Troika has been replaced with the mulcher so you do not have an infinite mounted machine gun. While the first version of the map felt a little bright and lively, the new version will give you a setting of low light and a blue-ish tint to the feel of the map. The addition of ramps have been added to the lower trenches so players can traverse the map quicker and easier without getting stuck. If you have played the first one, there will be a small learning curve with the new weapon placement but in general the map will feel exactly the same.
The map is a Locust based map where you find yourself in a subway cart mining facility with the flow of lava in the center of the map and a bridge that is blocked by the mine carts. In the back of the map there is a button to activate the carts to move them and the once blocked bridge will now drop down to gain access to the other side of the map. The map is symmetrical so you will find it easy to navigate and has stairways leading to the top bridge from the front way and secret stairs in the back of the map leading to a room for an overhead advantage. The long corridors and out-coves will have some surprising battles taking place and I believe the map will be used well with coordinated teams to move around and flank the enemy. Visually this map is impressive with the small effects of embers being dropped from the overhead fire lamps to the spider webs in the corners that are affected by the wind makes this map highly detailed.
My final impression for this content that while the sections for the deleted scenes might be a little short, but the change of pace and the new encounters are refreshing to what I am normally used to, I had a fun time playing it both the stealth way and the guns blazing way. As for the new maps, I think there will be enough maps for everyone to enjoy, including this DLC and the maps that were released on the disk, there is now 29 maps to choose from so everyone will have something that suits their needs when it comes to playing.
The Dark Corners DLC is priced at 1200 MSP ($15 USD) and the All Fronts Collection is priced at 1600 MSP ($20 USD). I recommend the Dark Corners DLC if you already own the flashback map pack, combustible map pack, and the snowblind map pack. If you have not purchased all of the current DLC or even if you purchased only one of the map packs in the past the best value for you would be the All Fronts Collection DLC.