Well, after a two week hiatus, This Week in Co-Op is back. Since Gears of War 2 has been quite the popular game recently, I decided to play the original Gears of War. Gears 2 has received pretty good reviews, much like it's predecessor. Also, (unsurprisingly) Gears of War 2 is much like it's predecessor as far as gameplay goes, though there are some fun additions (Horde Mode, enough said). So, with all this in mind, I decided to play the original Gears of War in order to see why Gears 2 has captured my attention so much.
Gears 1 was a solid co-op game. It had basic co-op modes, both online and local. However, it did some things rather well. First off, the game had your teammate playing as an actual character in the game (i.e. there was no "two Master Chiefs" syndrome). Also, there were no major (or even minor) changes to the campaign, so that you got the full effect of the campaign whether you played it in co-op or single player. However, the best part of Gears 1 was it's solid-yet-simple features. This made Gears a fun co-op experience that had some depth without being too complex.
Gears of War did not reinvent the wheel. Instead, it simply created a really good wheel. This carries over to co-op, since all the good single-player features are also good co-op features. The cover system is simple but very solid, gameplay is not overly complex, and so forth. This leads to a very good co-op game. Anyone who has played a shooter can pick up Gears of War and have some fun. Likewise, if you are a good shooter player, but your buddy is just a casual player, you can still have some fun. Blasting the Locust Horde with your buddy is really an uncomplicated affair, in the best possible way.
Some examples would be nice. The game makes teamwork simple and uncomplicated with it's easy-to-use cover system. Also, many areas have multiple paths to the same area. Thus, with this combo of a good cover system and multiple paths, flanking and overall teamwork is made simple. The few path-splitting instances quite literally force you to use teamwork. Also, the weapons fit into the before mentioned "simple yet solid" idea. There is the shotgun, the pistols, and so forth, but there's also some imaginative weapons (machinegun/chainsaw). However, all of these weapons are relatively easy to use and yet they still have weight. And like most of the game, they are really well designed. The co-op impact is that you and your buddy are going to have a fun time with some imaginative weapons. Plus, blowing apart Locust is a great bonding experience.
Gears of War was a well-designed game, particularly in the area of co-op. The game is simple enough to allow almost anyone to have fun with the game, while it has some complex features that let it have some depth. However, the simple-yet-complex vibe is common throughout the game. There is a basic cover system that allows you to use some strategy in your co-op experience. Likewise, gameplay is simple enough to be fun, while the AI is decent enough to make it a challenge. Overall, Gears of War is a great balance of simple and solid. This resulted in a fun game that was a good co-op experience. If Gears of War 2 is at all like Gears of War 1 (and it is), we are in for some fun.