Gears of War 2 was a hugely anticipated game that had a lot to live up to after the success of the original Gears of War. On the most part it delivered, and Epic seem keen to continue to deliver the good with numerous multiplayer title updates, and more importantly, a set of 3 new multiplayer maps launched just weeks after the game in the form of the Combustible Map Pack. Let’s take a look at those maps.
First up we have Flood, which is probably the most interesting new map of the bunch due to a rather deadly environmental hazard, namely constantly rising Imulsion, which surrounds the map. The layout of the map itself is fairly basic, consisting of a circular pathway around the edge of the map, and then a centre area in the middle, which has 2 entrances, one from either side of the map. Both these entrances have a grenade spawn nearby, and the centre of the map hold another grenade spawn, plus the power weapons of the map; boomer/torque bow and mortar/hammer of dawn, which alternate each round. What this means is that around 90% of the combat tends to happen in and around the centre, creating some hectic and action packed firefights. Further adding to the chaos is the constantly rising Imulsion, which eventually starts blocking off the outside walkway, forcing everyone into the middle for a showdown. Due to this nature of leading players towards the centre of the map, it is perfectly suited for Elimination and Warzone gametypes. You can of course play all the other game types on it, but for the objective based games such as King of the Hill, you will find that the Imulsion no longer rise, which kind of drains the fun of the map somewhat.
Monster Tips – Stick together as a team and try to get into the centre early, and take it by force. Ensure that you take the grenades around the outside before you charge in, as these will greatly help you in ensuring you gain control of those 2 power weapons!
Monster Map Score – 80%
Next up is Fuel Station, which is (obviously) based around an abandoned fossil fuel station. This map is far from symmetrical, and also includes some environmental hazards in the form of exploding fuel trucks, so best be careful what you decide to use for cover. The majority of the fighting tends to take place around the fuel station itself, but don’t let all your attention be driven straight there, because opposite the fuel station lies the mortar, which can really rack up the damage thanks to the exploding vehicles. Moving in closer to the fuel station you will find some grenades, and then right in front of the station there is the mulcher, which is nicely protected from the mortar by a rather handy roof. Where this map really gets interesting is inside the fuel station, where there is a lift waiting to take you up onto the roof. If you don’t like lifts then you can always take the ramp round the back of the building to get up top as well. On top of the roof you will find a personal favourite weapon of mine, the scorcher, which is great for fending off anyone trying to get up to you, due to the ramp being very small, and the lift taking time to reach the top and open its doors. If you do try and go up the lift you best be sure there’s no-one waiting for you up the top! If you do try holding the roof then you need to make sure that your team has the mortar, otherwise you are literally cannon fodder up there. Fuel Station suits just about any game type, although doesn’t really excel at any of them.
Monster Tips – Holding the mulcher down the bottom, and then having a couple of guys on the roof providing supporting fire can really work wonders. However, if you do decide to go on the roof, be aware that you are an easy target for the mortar. If you have the mortar, don’t waste your shots trying to hit the mulcher spawn, because you won’t!
Monster Map Score – 80%
Rounding out the map pack is Gold Rush, a map based on an old Imulsion Refinery. This is a relatively symmetrical map, designed around fighting on different levels, with longbow/torque bow & pistols spawning on the upper level, and the mortar/boomer and grenades spawning down below. What this means is that both ways tend to have a nice tactical use. Whilst down below may be wider, you have lots of small pieces of cover to duck behind, and of course if you get your hands on the power weapon you should be sure to wreak some havoc. Up top may not hold quite as powerful weapons, but once up there you have the upper hand on anyone coming up either of the 2 flights of stairs due to the enclosed stairwells with minimal cover, plus a nice sniper spot to take potshots at the guys below. Don’t get too comfortable up there though, as a well placed mortar shot can really do some damage to your team. Whilst Gold Rush doesn’t have any environmental hazard like Flood, it is a very well designed map with plenty of varying tactical opportunities. Objective based games like Annex are a joy to play on this due to every single capture point being approachable from opposite directions, meaning you really have to work as a team to hold that point. Hands down Gold Rush is my favourite map from the map pack, if not in the entire game.
Monster Tips – Sticking together and hunting as a team works really well. If the enemy split up and you come across them a couple at a time then you should have no problem taking them out. If you come across the entire other team then at least you are equally numbered.
Monster Map Score – 95%
So there you have it, one awesome map, and two good maps, which will set you back 800MS points. If you are a fan of Gears of War 2 online then you should really pick these up, because they offer some nice variations from the maps included on the disc, and will give you countless hours of fun as you perfect your killer strategies on each map.
Monster Overall Score – 88%