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Gears of War 2: Road to Ruin

Smaller, shorter, less badass?

Then there's a bridge crossing rendered impassable by an old enemy, and an old friend to liberate following a slight hiccup. The better weapons are gradually uncovered - the longshot, the torque bow, the mulcher, etc. - and the pacing and level of variation in general is comparable to the better sections in Gears of War 2's Nexus assault, which of course would have followed this had Epic decided to include it on the disc last year.

Stealth, however, changes things considerably - although thankfully it's a different kind of stealth to the tedium that accompanied the hunt for Dom's wife among the iron man-cages in the main game. With Marcus and Dom dressed up as Theron Guards - they look like Boo from Monsters, Inc. - they can walk among the Locust without detection, providing they stay out of a certain range. The idea is that the Locust will sniff them out if they get too close.

Battles that rage for quite some time if you go in all-guns-blazing can be skilfully side-stepped. Some of the Locust are stationary, but several patrol on set routes, and there are distractions to set off to try and carve out a path. Coordinating stealth with a friend over headset is easy and enjoyable, and if you're on your own then AI Dom is surprisingly good at self-preservation, even calling situations for you. There's no extra interface clutter, but then it's not necessary.

If you are identified, of course, it's masks-off and guns up, and if you then die, you're transported back to the last canal lock checkpoint. Handily though, if you can fight off the Locusts instead and make it to the next canal lock thing, Marcus and Dom put their masks back on for the next bit and sneak around again. It's enough to justify the canal locks, anyway, which are otherwise very silly, complete with levers that need to be pulled simultaneously that also happen to be up entirely superfluous ladders. It's unusually fluffy stuff for Gears.

It's not explained where they're storing their COG armour in the meantime. They can't be wearing both, surely.

Overall though, Road to Ruin is an enjoyable extra chapter. Whether you choose stealth or violence, it culminates in a challenging brawl outside the doorway to Nexus against all sorts of old friends - tickers, beast riders, those resurrection bastards, and others - and playing through it a couple of times with a friend is a diverting hour-or-so's work, and worth 75 gamerpoints - 25 each for stealth and all-guns-blazing finishes, and 25 more for doing it in co-op.

With that said, it is very much a scene that could afford to be deleted. The stealth element is novel for Gears but hardly amazing, and while the action option hits some high points, they're not exactly using a giant worm. Fans of the series hoping that it might shed more light on the main story - what Adam Fenix is up to and so on - may also be disappointed, and the vaunted cameo from the first game isn't exactly General RAAM.

If you were thinking of buying Dark Corners specifically to play Road to Ruin, then, you will feel short-changed. However, throw in seven multiplayer maps, as Epic has, and the story may be different. Assuming we can find some people to play them with once the expansion's actually out, we'll try to bring you a real verdict in the days ahead.

Gears of War 2: Dark Corners and All Fronts Collection are both due out on 28th July.

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About the Author

Tom Bramwell avatar

Tom Bramwell

Contributor

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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