Gears of War 2: Dark Corners Review (Xbox360)

Whilst Epic readies the PR cannon for an inevitable Gears of War 3 onslaught at the end of the year, Dark Corners (1200 MS Points) represents probably the most balanced DLC add-on for the well received second chapter. Featuring seven new multiplayer maps and an additional single-player (or co-op) level, this final offering rounds out an extensive game package that should be enough to tide over all but the most diehard of fanboys. Whether or not it'll do enough on its own to topple Halo 3 or Call of Duty from the upper echelons of the Xbox Live charts is another matter entirely, but the quality of map design certainly won't be an issue.

Delving straight into the most intriguing aspect, extra campaign chapter 'Road to Ruin' is Epic's second attempt at utilising discarded single-player material in a directors cut format, taking its cues from the Brumak battle and power station trawl awarded to PC purchasers of the original Gears'. With lead designer Cliff Blezinski popping up in video format to set the scene beforehand, Road to Ruin pitches Marcus and Dom into a bridging chapter between the 'unhappy event' that takes place in the underground cavern and the subsequent race to reach the Locust Queen, filling in a barely visible plot hole in the process.

Surprisingly, players are coerced into an unfamiliar stealthy form of the traditional Gears' stop-and-pop action whilst traversing the three underground arenas that comprise this additional section, with Theron armour enabling the square-jawed duo to move amongst the Locust undetected, provided they stay far enough away from a keen sense of smell. Following guard patterns and sneaking through Metal Gear-inspired gaps is fairly well implemented, but unlike the majority of Snake's campaign, detection isn't the end of the world. The resultant firefight from an unfortuitous position however, may well be.

Nowhere looks damn pretty.
The locust are as satisfying as ever to blow into little chunks.

Of course the second option is to run in guns blazing, and here the caverns turn into some entertaining if not particularly inspired locales for the solid foundations of Gears' action gameplay. It's easy to see why these were cut, but another Brumak battle and some particularly fetching art design make up for the deficiencies of funnelling players through some fairly nondescript level layouts. It's a passable chapter in traditional format, but nothing you'll miss.

Dark Corners' multiplayer offering is almost worth the price of entry alone however. Leaving the remakes of Sanctuary and War Machine aside, the remaining five maps offer individual variations on environment, art design and weapon loadout that milk the best out of Gears' fairly robust multiplayer system. From the atmospheric lightning-streaked skies of 'Allfathers Garden' to the visibility-crushing sandstorms that sweep across the western-themed and desolate 'Nowhere', every level offers up a unique charm that will serve to extend shelf-life in months to come.

If you've not picked up any previous content, the accompanying All Fronts DLC pack is the recommended choice here. Comprising the full Dark Corners suite in addition to every map pack previously available, the purchase price of 1600 MS Points boosts the multiplayer level count to a total of 27 in addition to the extra single-player campaign. In a world of high-priced costume packs, downloadable in-game money and purchasable cheat modes, that's a hell of a steal.

If you've forgotten just how much fun Gears' 2 multiplayer can be, whether co-op campaign, Horde mode or straight-up ranked play takes your fancy, now would be the time to step back into the fray.

Top game moment: Getting caught and laying down hell

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By melzerith (SI Core) on Jul 30, 2009
UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XBOx 360.
By Jake_SI (SI Elite) on Jul 31, 2009
Hm, I love GOW2.. might get some MS Points, and download it! :)
By Hunter_Raj (SI Member) on Sep 02, 2009
We play Gears of War 2: Dark Corners it's not nice like older part
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 05, 2010
OK. I might get. I am a fan after all.