Tears of War
The story of Gears of War 2
follows on closely from the ending of the original game, with six months of relentless battle having passed since the underground Lightmass bombing which the humans had hoped would almost wipe out the Locust threat.
Unfortunately it turns out that things didn’t quite go as planned for the subterranean bombing run and not only has a sizeable chunk of the Locust army survived, but the detonation also introduced a new threat to humanity – a disease called Rust Lung.
Caused by the vaporisation of the liquid imulsion, Rust Lung is now affecting a staggering amount of the human survivors and the number of warriors is ever dwindling as Rust Lung eats away at the population.
The good news is that the Lightmass bombing has bought around a short period of peace for humanity, who start to relax in the belief that they have almost eradicated their inhuman opponents.
Then it suddenly all goes wrong and the cities of Tollen and Montevado are suddenly swallowed into the earth by Locust sinkholes much, much larger than anyone has ever seen before. The Locusts are back and the humans are caught off-guard, forced to retreat to the only city they know is safe; Jacinto, which is built on a rocky plateau.
With most of the warriors in hospital and the Locust once again on the offensive, humanity has only one option left; to take the fight to the Locust by sending all their forces underground to strike into the heart of the enemy in the uncharted and alien under-scape of the Locust caverns.
So far, so m’eh then; this basic narrative is really just a super-wordy way for Epic to put players once more in the shoes of Marcus Fenix and his best buddy, Dom Santiago. What the plot is essentially saying is that the chips are down and, guess what, you are humanity's last hope. Oh noes, etc.
Where it manages to get a little bit more interesting though is in the little subquests and bits and pieces which help flesh out the characters in your squad, giving them a lot more depth than you’d expect from a troop of men with voices like gravel and gazes more steely than the average iron mine.
In Gears of War 2
, an awful lot of this emotional side-focus goes not on protagonist Marcus Fenix though, but his ever-present sidekick. Whereas everyone in the human forces is fighting for the survival of the species, Dom is actually fighting for a slightly different cause; love. Ever since Emergence Day, when the Locust first attacked, Dom has been searching for his wife who he lost in the chaos.
While Dom’s search for Maria is something players are probably already familiar with from the first Gears of War
, the sequel makes a much bigger deal of it and there’s a large amount of emphasis placed on how driven Dom is to find his spouse... and how unstable he may be if he can’t find her.
With tips occasionally coming through to Marcus and Dom about where Maria might be, players definitely get to build a better attachment to their squad and this is only built on by the new collectibles system which sees Marcus picking up scraps of info wherever he can.
The collectibles themselves take many, many forms – half-burned diary entries or patient charts found in the hospitals or newspaper articles found on the streets, but all of it comes together to give a more cohesive look at the world of Gears
and how close humanity is to extinction.