With the release of the Dark Corners Map Pack on Xbox LIVE this week, players are not only treated to seven new multiplayer maps, but also a bonus deleted scene that was cut from the final version of Gears of War 2. The deleted scene allows players to maneuver Marcus and Dom through the Road to Ruins either the traditional Gears way of barging through with guns-a-blazin, or donning Theron armor for a sneakier approach.
The Road to Ruins campaign picks up a little after the midpoint from the story of the single-player campaign when Dom is overcome with emotions from a particular event that took place in Gears of War 2. Marcus approaches Dom with the decision to either make it through the Roads of Ruin stealthily while wearing some Theron armor, or the old fashioned way of killing everything they come across. Through the stealth mission, you’re guided by Dom, who gives you verbal cues as to what you should or shouldn’t do. Towards the latter part of the campaign, the game goes back to the traditional Gears of War style with a number of firefights occurring.
Taking the stealth route felt a little out of place as I wasn’t used to running from cover to cover, hoping I wouldn’t be spotted by a Locust guard. It was an interesting idea to offer the option of a stealth mission, but in the Gears of War world, stealth isn’t an option most people would think to use. Much like a deleted scene from a DVD, the campaign will give players a chance to experience something that wasn’t left in the actual game, and for good reason. Add the fact the deleted scene can be completed within a half hour, and you can consider it easily forgettable.
As I mentioned earlier, the map pack also comes with seven new multiplayer maps. The previous map packs that were released had a common theme tying them together. Whether it be maps where the levels were covered in snow, or maps that had a number of explosive obstacles, they all tied into one common theme. The Dark Corners Map Pack overall did not have a common theme which I found to be great as having more varied maps allows the players to distinguish their favorite maps with their least favorite maps. Having a common theme basically puts all of the maps in their own category, which players can either love or hate.
The locales of the maps vary from certain locations in the single-player campaign, to locales that are mentioned in the Gears of War books. Way Station and Highway are the first locust-themed maps to be released for Gears of War 2. The maps give off a feeling that you’re really in an unrecognizable world with strange architecture and colors all around. Sanctuary has you fighting in a dark graveyard with plenty of cover by way of the level’s architecture. Memorial has players fighting near the Eternal Flame which pays tribute to fallen soldiers with an open area to fight in, as well as a platform above the level and hallways running underneath the platform. Nowhere is set in an unlikely location: in the middle of a desert. The map has some nice, open areas for snipers to take advantage of, but there are also a couple of close-quarter spots for shotgun enthusiasts. Allfathers Garden is located on the sacred grounds of the Coalition fathers and offers some gorgeous architecture to gander at, but be careful as there are a good number of powerful weapons scattered around the map. And finally, the War Machine takes place in an abandoned train station. The Boomshot, Mulcher, and Longshot are all up for grabs, so be sure to grab them before your enemies do.
Final Thought: Although the deleted campaign is too short and too lackluster to warrant buying the Dark Corners DLC for, the seven multiplayer maps more than make up for it. The variety of locales and the number of maps available in this single map pack is worthy of your 1200 MS Points. Die-hard Gears fans will undoubtedly pick up the Dark Corners pack, but if you haven’t played Gears in quite some time, this may be the reason to get back into it.