Studios: Epic Games and Microsoft Game Studios
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1 or 2-10 Online Competitively/2-5 Online Cooperatively
The Gears of War 2: All Fronts Collection is a downloadable content pack that contains every map pack released and an all new deleted scene from the original campaign. The collection is broken up into five parts: the Flashback, Combustible and Snowblind map packs and the all new Dark Corners map pack along with the Road to Ruins deleted scene.
Each of the map packs can be used for online competitive multiplayer or you can take on Horde mode with a group of up to five people cooperatively. Along with new maps to play on, each piece of content comes with its own set of achievements to work towards.
The Flashback Map Pack is the first of the four pieces of content and features five maps that were originally in the first Gears of War game. The maps have also been updated with new textures and color to change the overall aesthetics quite a bit. For example, the Gridlock map that was quite grey and empty in the first game but now has been tons of vegetation and moss covering the map with much more green color to it. Along with changes such as the Mansion no longer being rained on and Canals being completely covered in snow really make the maps feel more alive and look better.
The second released map pack to be included in the All Fronts Collection is the Combustible Map Pack. This is probably the weakest of the downloadable content since it only comes with three new maps. Each of them is quite different than the others. The Flood map will have you playing on the ruins of a broken bridge as you are surrounded by Imulsion. This once again shows off some great vibrant color that was so rare in the first Gears of War game. The other two maps, Gold Rush and Fuel Station, are more of the fan favorites since the areas aren’t so tight and there’s more places to run around in. A very cool thing about the Fuel Station map is that is has areas specifically designed to use when playing on Horde mode. This is great since the developers are now designing maps more suited towards some of new additions to Gears of War 2.
The Snowblind Map Pack is the third released map pack and is one of the best. It comes with three all new maps and one returning from the original Gears of War. Each is very different from one another. Maps like Underhill will have you playing inside with tons of places to hide, while the Courtyard map – which is huge in size – is filled with wide open spaces and area to run. The greatest thing about these maps is that they all have an area that is secluded enough to be used in Horde mode. The Grindyard map is probably the fan favorite for this since it contains a central tower with tons of vantage points and only one entrance. As stated before, it’s great to see levels being developed not only for some fast paced competitive games but some intense and defense-focused Horde games.
The fourth map pack is Dark Corners and comes with a massive seven stages. Each is very different in layout and presentation. Maps like Allfathers Garden are rich with lush vegetation and vibrant green and blue textures, while Highway is quite red with dirty brown architecture all around. Not only are the maps different but they are all very big. Some feel like mazes with the number of passages and walkways you will be able to use. And though each map is big, some still focus on tight and narrow corridors to fight in. For example, maps like Way Station and War Machine have tons of cover and places to hide. Also, there are several maps that feature great secluded areas perfect for the Horde gameplay mode. One in particular is Nowhere. In here you can choose either the inside of several houses or the on top of the central building. To make things even better – every few minutes you will be hit with a dust storm that lowers your vision significantly. This adds another level to the thought process of how to take on the enemy and makes the map that much more enjoyable to play. A nice feature about this pack’s specific achievements is that they have you play certain waves of Horde on certain maps in comparison to which maps work better on this mode than others. For example, you need to be level 50 and complete all 1-50 waves of Horde on the Nowhere map – which is conveniently the best map for this game type; whereas you only need to be level 8 and complete waves 1-10 on War Machine – a map with no great secluded areas.
The last piece of content you will receive is the Road to Ruins deleted scene from the main campaign. What’s interesting about this is that you get the chance to try out the new stealth mode or play through it normally in guns blazing. The stealth mode has you sneak past each enemy and avoid being detected. However, it comes up as a bit weak. Since no new gameplay elements were really used, it ends up just being you walking by when an enemy turns its back to you. The game does change this a bit by making you create diversions by dropping creates every now and then but you still end up just slowly walking through. It comes off as a bit shallow.
The overall length of the chapter is relatively short as well. It’ll take around 20 minutes to finish it but this does increase if you play through it both ways or try a harder difficulty. The guns blazing mode feels much nicer since it allows you to fight an addition boss during the chapter. It also lasts longer than the stealth side since you must fight off each enemy instead of bypassing them completely.
Overall the deleted scene is a nice addition and when packaged with seven multiplayer maps, the Dark Corners downloadable content is a great deal. Dark Corners can be purchased by itself for 1,200 Microsoft Points but if you missed out on some of the previous map packs you may want to buy the All Fronts Collection. Priced at 1,600 Microsoft Points it’s a steal for getting every bit of content, especially when compared to the individual pricing of each one.