As I'm leaving work, I caught a post on one of the gaming blogs that I read that the update with Annex was available last night.
I log on to find a fresh, piping-hot gears update waiting for me to have fun with. My future brother-in-law was online, so we bounced into the first Annex game that we could find.
I love it. Annex feels refreshing compared to your standard Gears multiplayer. Don't get me wrong, I loved the "one-life team play" concept, but having respawns and HUD viewable objectives extends the Gears experience. Using the weapons as the "hill" is great, as most players generally know the locations of the weapons, and they provide great reference points for strategizing with teammates. Respawns were a welcome addition for me. I'm not the best player by far, and having another chance almost immediately to get back into the fray has improved my skills more in one night than all of the last two months. I get to play more, and that makes it tremendously more fun for me.
A couple of observations:
The changes made to the roady run regarding sticking to walls was commented on by everyone. Some were complaining that they stuck to things that they normally would not have during a run. I found that it actually did help me, as several times I got past obstacles that normally would have "caught" me (running away is too a legitimate strategy! So is hiding!).
I still suck with the boomshot. But I did get a kill with it. Booyah!
I'm not sure if this was just because of the guys I was playing with, but the sniper rifle seems to be WAY more important in Annex than in traditional warzone/etc. One guy (sometimes on my team, others not) never went for the "hill" and always sniped. I'm not sure if they made the snipe more forgiving or if he was that good, but when he was on the other team, he was being cursed at. I realize that is a strategy, having one player cover the others, but he used it almost too effectively (for my taste :)
All in all, I think I'm in love. Insane mode may have to wait a month or so.
bonus points to anyone who caught the Little Giants reference in the subject line