Given how close to perfect the final patch for Gears of War made the multiplayer game, many of us were expecting an even better experience for Gears of War 2. How wrong we were. A few weeks from release and we’re already one patch in to Gears of War 2, and while it made matchmaking a lot faster in most cases, Epic still has a long way to go to make this game the unforgettable beast it could be.
Shotgun/Boomshot blindfire glitch - Bizarrely enough, if you’re not the host, or on the host team, your shotgun and boomshot will not work correctly. “Blind firing” (a staple of the first game) will send your blast straight into the floor in front of you. Frustratingly, Epic has decided not to acknowledge this at all, despite video evidence created by two fans.
Host advantage - It was already prevalent in the first game, now it’s just ridiculous. Despite those bizarre glitches mentioned above, the shotgun always works perfectly for the host. You can always tell who is hosting the game - just look for the person running around one-shotting people with the shotgun, usually with twice as many kills as everyone else.
Smoke grenade knockdowns - the first game used smoke grenades as a strategic element, to obscure yourself from an enemy sniper for long enough to find new cover or start to flank. Gears 2 has made the smoke grenades knock you down. Not only does your character model go in to full ragdoll, which looks stupid, it takes far too long to get back up. For territorial modes like King of the Hill, this is ridiculously frustrating. Everyone starts with a smoke grenade, so the “strategy” often devolves into this: throw smoke, knock them down, rev up the chainsaw and run in.
Chainsaw invincibility - In the first game, hitting a player who had their chainsaw revved up would stun them. Plenty of people still ran around revving them like crazy - but at least a talented player could deal with it. Now, this seems completely erratic - which sucks, because an online game should be consistent, so a seasoned player knows exactly what is going to happen before it happens. Sometimes, a close-quarters shotgun blast will kill a player with a revved chainsaw, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes a few bursts of a lancer will stop a player with a revved chainsaw, sometimes a full clip won’t do anything. This is made worse by the fact that the only other close-quarters weapon, the shotgun, is so broken when you aren’t the host that there’s now more people than ever using the near-invincible chainsaw. Considering how many changes were made to increase the strategic aspect of the game, this side-effect is crazy.
Matchmaking is erratic at best - I’ve played around 20 hours on Xbox Live, and have only experienced a handful of games with my fellow Australians. Originally I had thought the first patch fixed this, but my last session was just as bad as the pre-patch situation. Here’s a hint Epic (and all other multiplayer developers) I don’t want to play with French people, because I can’t discuss tactics with them! I don’t want to play on a host in America with two seconds latency, because I can’t do anything except set proximity mines and chainsaw! I am smart enough to know what latency is, so give me a list of the available servers and I’ll join the one with the lowest latency! This is not rocket science…
Half-arsed party system - If you’re lucky enough to meet up with someone from your country that you like, you can’t offer to party up with them like Halo 3. If you’re lucky enough to be matched up with another team from your country, and have a low latency with the host, you can’t play a rematch or play more games with them - you HAVE to go back and start the matchmaking process again. If you’re in a party of three people and matchmaking is searching for two more players, someone from your friends list can’t join and become one of those players. I surely don’t need to go on - this is a half-assed, bordering on broken implementation.
Meaningless rank system - Perhaps “meaningless” is a stretch, but certainly it pales in comparison to something like Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4/5. There’s just five ranks, and it’s based on your TrueSkill (what the game uses to match you up with equally skilled opponents) and not the amount of time you’ve been playing the game - so you can go down a rank, and be unfairly penalized for matchmaking putting you in a match with horrific lag and teammates you can’t understand. Not so fun.
Flashback maps - In an attempt to curb the losses from EB Games (and other retailers) who sell a few new copies of a game, buy them back for a pittance, and re-sell, Epic has decided to offer five maps from the original game ONLY to people who buy at retail - with no plans to release the maps as paid downloadable content. I’ve run into more than a few people who bought the game second-hand, or borrowed the game off their friends that would love these maps, and would pay 800-1200 Microsoft points for the privilege - but wouldn’t dream of buying the game at retail just for those maps. This means the four other players in their party can’t play those maps either. I wouldn’t care so much if Gridlock wasn’t still one of the best maps out of the 15 available.
What do you think? Are you experiencing the issues we are? Got anything to add? Leave a comment.