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'Dark Corners' worth exploring

Aug 19, 2009

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Epic Games has done something a little different with its newest downloadable add-on pack for its Xbox 360-exclusive hit 'Gears of War 2'. The 'Dark Corners' DLC doesn't just include new maps (seven, to be exact), it also includes a deleted scene from the campaign mode.

And just like most deleted scenes you'll find on any given DVD, the 'Road to Ruin' scene isn't terribly memorable. It follows Marcus and Dom as they traverse the Locust Hollow, and the level can be done in one of two ways - loud and explosive, like Gears was meant to be played, or stealth.

Gears of War 2The latter is a matter of mostly stop-and-go gameplay as you go from room to room in the hollow, until you get noticed near the end of the level and are forced into an all-out firefight. Guns blazing is still the way to go, as you'll have all your favourite weapons at your disposal, and you'll even get a chance to hop onto a turret to take out a Brumak. The whole thing is over before it's started really, and that's a good thing, as you can now add a few more achievement points for finishing the level, and then proceed to the real reason to buy this DLC - the seven new multiplayer maps.

For the most part, each map is pure Gears; there isn't much in the way of surprises, but that's not really a bad thing. If you're looking for some awesome five-on-five battles and more Horde goodness, you'll definitely be getting your money's worth here. Here is a rundown of each new map, and what game modes are best on each:

Allfathers' Garden - One of the coolest-looking levels, this map is set at night during a storm. A lot of rounds are decided quickly here, as teams start on opposite sides and usually end up meeting in the middle before anyone has a chance to run up the stairs. Going up the stairs will lead you to weapons like the sniper rifle, but will also eventually lead to a dead end, so you don't want to be stuck up here if most of your team is already down. One of our favourite levels for Warzone and Execution.

Memorial - Lots of fun to be had here. This level has a lot of power weapons, so it's best to try to get control of things like the Torque Bow, Boomshot and Mortar early. There are some tight corriders and several staircases to keep things interesting here, but Annex especially is a lot of fun as many of the control points are out in the open. This is also a good level to play Wingman, since this is a large map when considering other Gears of War 2 maps.

Gears of War 2Highway - A map lifted right out of the 'Road to Ruin' deleted scene, this level doesn't have a lot of wide-open spaces, so you'll want to make friends with your shotgun and any other close-range weapons if you haven't already. There aren't a lot of gimmicks here (a la Hail's, err, hail) - just a lot of straight-up shooting, tagging and chainsawing. Great for Warzone and Execution.

Nowhere - A wide open, empty town in the middle of the desert, this map may be the best of the bunch. Many players are likely to meet up in the wide-open center of this level, but if you take advantage of the empty stores scattered around the area, you'll be able to get some nice sneak attacks on the enemy. Better yet, roadie run to the top of one of the large buildings and get ahold of the heavier weapons, be it the Mulcher or the Mortar, and bring the rain to the enemy. This map is great for just about any game mode, but Annex especially tends to be a lot of fun here. Careful of the sandstorms, though!

Sanctuary - This dark level reminds us of the first Gears' excellent 'Clocktower' map. Set outside, something about this level didn't grab us like the other six. There are lots of high and low points here to keep the other team guessing, and as long as you keep moving here, you should be okay.

War Machine - A remake from the first 'Gears', this is another great level that features both wide open spaces and some great spots for classic ducking and covering. You'll really want to be careful around corners here, and if you're having a tough time getting at enemies, use grenades to your advantage to flush them out of hiding. A great map for Annex, and hectic fun if you like Wingman.

Way Station - At first this level may seem frustrating as you'll notice a long river of lava keeps you separated from the other team (forcing you to take a long, dangerous path to the enemy). Hit a switch behind a staircase though, and a bridge extends to allow both teams to cross the river unscathed. This level features two large floors, with multiple staircases leading from bottom to top and vice versa. One of the better maps for Annex, you'll still have a lot of fun if you choose Guardian, or good old fashioned Warzone or Execution.

 

Gears of War 2: Dark Corners map pack
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Epic Games
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site: http://gearsofwar.xbox.com/

Rating: 7.5 / 10

 
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