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GAME POW 08.23.09: Gears of War 2 Mini Column
Posted by Sam Pow on 08.23.2009

GAME POW---, 2009

GAME POW here and better than ever! As if you didn't get enough awesome Gears of War action in the last column, this week there's even more! Unfortunately, my time this week is a little short, so you'll have to make do with just one Gears 2 map mini-guide. And now, my week in gaming.

Sam Pow's week in gaming: I spent almost the entire week playing strictly iPhone games. I've been playing CS.One and Toki Tori for review (both up soon), and also Zombies Live, a text MMO. I'm proud to say I'm getting pretty good at it; my level is 23 and my hourly income is over 5000. The iPhone really is a great on-the-go gaming platform, and because of all the indie development there's tons of variety and originality on the app store.

Gears of War 2: River Map Guide

River is one of Gears 2's most popular pack-in maps, and is a favorite for guardian and horde. The map's symmetrical structure and scattered bases make it perfect for hiding leaders as well as hiding from waves of locust. To properly play those roles, I'll be going over strategies for them as well as general tips and weapon locations for the map.

River is a very symmetrical map. Each side plays almost identically, so you have to place your trust in how well you use the map features. From where you start (the SP on the map) you'll first encounter a small building on your right (which will be called the cabin). This houses a cycling ink/frag grenade spawn, which can prove extremely useful (you'll see why later). The cabin has a backyard that come out near two trucks. In between the trucks is a cycling handgun spawn, which alternates between gorgon and boltok each round. Try to grab this right away; it's right out in the open and easy to get to, so your entire team should be after it.

At this point you should be at a crossroads. To your right should be a barn. This will be a key point no matter which side you're on. Inside the barn is a staircase and a longshot/torque bow spawn. If you had turned left, you would have come to a bridge, which is the central point on the map and where the majority of the fighting will take place. In the center of the bridge is a mortar, which is one of the riskiest places to be. The exposed areas on the bridge are going to be where everyone is firing, and the mortar will slow you significantly is you try to get it back to your side. I recommend getting on the sand bag nearest it with a gnasher and waiting for the other team to make the first move.

About where the cabin is located, but on the other side of the path is a staircase which leads down to the river itself. Where the bridge is you'll find its support pillars, with a boomshot in the center. This is a wonderful map point, as most people just rush for the bridge or barn at the beginning of the game. Rarely do players go for the boomshot, which plays a large part in disabling enemy snipers. Try to get this at the beginning of the match, but make sure to have a shotgun ready. If you notice an enemy heading for it also, you can set up an easy ambush. The pillars provide good enough cover that you shouldn't be visible, which means you can wait for the enemy to come and quickly chainsaw them (or shotgun). Most foes are cautious with the boomshot, and won't fire it off with you so close, and by the time they get out another weapon you will have already hacked them to bits and made off with your boomshot.

In case you haven't yet noticed, the design of River as well as its numerous hiding places makes it great for both guardian and horde. Guardian plays out excellently because there are many secure locations to hide and protect your leader. While you may go straight for the barn as leader, the cabin is generally a better spot. The grenade spawn means you can constantly keep doors and entryways tagged, and also means that you will have some steady firepower should someone get past the mines. To make sure they don't, tag the grenades on the inside of the cabin next to the door, where it isn't as easy to see. If it's a frag you get an almost guaranteed kill, and if it was ink you'll get possible kills as well as time to move about and prepare.

Horde also plays well on river. If you can round up some good snipers, this is an easy map to beat 50 with, even if you don't have 5 players. In fact, 30s and 40s are very doable on this map even with 2 or 3 people. Here's how. The barns are the most naturally protected area on the map, so get your team to one, and make sure someone grabs the handgun spawn on the way in. Now here's how you set things up. If you're playing with five people, put 2 in the upper story to pick off any visible locust. 2 more players will stand at the doors with gnashers and stop anyone from getting in. Once some maulers start to appear, the 2 door people will place two shields in front of the doorway, and become the shield players. This means they stop anything from getting in, grenade boss characters, and replant shields at the beginning of each round. The last player will stand behind the first pillar as you come up the staircase. This is the emergency character. He should be the first to grab the handgun (preferably gorgon) and be carrying hammerburst instead of lancer. This person has three jobs. The first, and most important, is that they are the primary player to take put boss characters. They will also aid and revive should both snipers or shield players go down. Their last job is to take over if the barn is infiltrated, standing their ground and firing off the hammerburst while the shield players get into cover. At that point the two snipers should also come down to assist.

Ok, one down, one to go. Now we have a short Halo Wars strategy article. Hopefully it will come in handy when you're playing all the cool DLC.

Halo Wars: Brute Chieftain Tips

Halo Wars is a game full of immense strategy, which involves ruthless raids, merciless attacks, and powerful defending. Sometimes, though, you just need a little guidance on how to strategize, as to properly crush your enemy. This is a collection of tips and tricks on how to use the Brute Chieftain leader of the Covenant.

The Brute Chieftain can be a very powerful leader, if used correctly. His unique unit is the brute, which comes in a squad of two and carries a brute shot. The Brutes are fairly inexpensive at 150 supplies, and are powerful, and useful against infantry AND vehicles. The brute shot does tend to miss aircraft, though. The first upgrade for the brute is a jetpack, which enables them to zoom around the area, easily dodging fire and getting from place to place. If you've ever played Halo 3, you know just how annoying the jetpack brutes are in combat. The second (and last) upgrade for the brute is a shock addition to their weapons, which stuns enemies. After the brutes are fully upgraded, they fly around with their jetpacks, stunning enemies and doing AOE damage, and easily taking out small to medium vehicles. It really is a sight to see. Brutes make effective scouting parties, and good chargers. Whenever I find myself without heavy vehicles during an attack, I put my brutes in the front to lead the assault. Also, I sometimes sent a small party of about 3-4 brute squads to raid enemy outposts. They can get there quickly, and since they can damage both troops and vehicles, you don't really have to worry about differentiating the units in the party. If they can take out the defense at the base, then they can easily stun and destroy created units as they leave the base, allowing time for a more substantial force to arrive and capture/destroy the outpost. This tactic can be made even better by including a grunt squad or two in the party to take out possible air units.

Also notable about brutes is that they replace the elite in the grunt squad. This does not change much, except grunt squads now have a small amount of AOE damage because of the brute shot. This also means that there are more awesome looking brutes on the field, which is always good.

The Brute Chieftain's special, or altered, unit is the brute chopper. This replaces the ghost. The chopper is a fairly fast scout/light battle unit. It has many advantages over the ghost, including more health. It has the same special attack as the ghost, being ramming, but the chopper's ram is more powerful. Also, if you've played Halo 3, you have probably seen that the chopper has the amazing ability to go right through most vehicles and utterly destroy them while turbo boosting. This remains intact in Halo Wars with the chopper special attack. It can effectively ram vehicles, and it only takes about two rams to destroy a wraith. As if this wasn't cool enough, the chopper's third upgrade is a big targe that is added to the front of the chopper, making the ram more powerful, and also reducing the damage taken to the chopper. The first upgrade is two 35mm cannons that give the chopper real fighting ability. This finally makes them useful for small raids and infantry support. The second upgrade just makes things better, adding stabilizers that increase the power and accuracy of the cannons. I used the choppers mainly for defending against enemy infantry, but they also have other purposes. Small attacks on bases and outposts work well, especially when mainly guarded by infantry. Fully upgraded, the chopper has great ramming capabilities to take out vehicles, and can become great suicide forces to use just before an assault. They can also be sent to take out troops that are wandering or in cover. Unfortunately, the cannons never really become powerful enough to take out most vehicles and aircraft, but remain fairly useful when fighting foot soldiers.

The last key point of using the Brute Chieftain is to utilize the leader himself. The Chieftain is a powerful foot soldier, and can dominate the game by raiding the enemy early. He carries a gravity hammer to beat down on his adversaries with, and doesn't hesitate in doing so. It is fairly effective, but the real charm of this leader lies in using his vortex ability. The vortex creates a black hole that sucks up and swirls around pieces caught from buildings and units. It causes steady damage, and is particularly useful when dealing with large groups or destroying buildings. When you end the attack, it creates a large explosion that blows away all the pieces swirling around and devastates nearby units. All this is at the cost of steadily decreasing supplies. This can be counteracted, however, by playing deathmatch mode. In deathmatch, you have more than enough supplies, that, when you have just a few warehouses, you can use the vortex for long amounts of time. An effective and deadly strategy is this. At the beginning of a deathmatch game, produce a temple and fill in the rest of the spaces in your base with warehouses. Now just make 5-10 brute squads, and send your party to the enemy base. Set your rally point there, and keep producing brutes. You may wish to upgrade the vortex at the temple beforehand. Try to keep the brutes in the front of the pack, and when you reach the base, use the brutes as a wall to protect the Chieftain, at which point you can use the vortex to wipe out surrounding foes. Once everyone is defeated (hopefully) just place your brute squads in a circle around the front of the enemy base, so that any units that are created will be obliterated. Now the Brute chieftain is free to attack buildings. Just position the vortex on the main base, and your enemy should soon meet their doom.

That is an easy way to take out an enemy at the beginning of a match, and also makes it easy to get the "Big Al's Scooter" achievement. (Win a skirmish match on heroic within 10 minutes)

Now that you know how to use the Brute Chieftain in Halo Wars, you can dominate the battlefield with fierce strength, advanced technology, and crushing humiliation. Be brutal.

Well, I know it wasn't much, but hopefully this tiny dose of insane strategy coolness can hold you over until next weeks GAME POW. So then, everyone comment on what you've read. Tell me what I'm doing right and wrong. Tell me what you want to see in the column. Next time I'm doing something new, anyone who leaves a good tip for the game I'm doing will get their comment and name in the next column. Maybe that will increase feedback, but until next time, POW!


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