Gears of War 2 is the bloodiest casual game ever made.
The cover mechanic, which if done well could add a level of tactical nuance to a shooter, does nothing so much as turn the game into a multi-million dollar update of Hogan’s Alley. However, if that’s too complicated for you, then you can spend large parts of the game simply standing out in the open and firing. Since you and your opponents are basically bullet-pillows able to take a full clip to the chest without pausing, this is in many cases the easiest course. Even if you do end up being taken down it’s nothing to worry about as your AI buddy is always there to revive you.
Gears 2 is also a prime example of the mini-gamification of the shooter. In addition to the little timing puzzle that you play each time you reload (which is an excellent innovation), and between the rounds of the lightgun-game-with-controller, there are numerous vehicle and turret sections. While the turret sections are all basically similar, every vehicle section has its own quirks, each of which are explained to you at the beginning of the level, none of which are really explored (thanks Half-Life 2).
The story of the game gets a lot of ridicule, with all its unselfconscious jingoism, but it wouldn’t be surprising if one day it’s appreciated for its camp. If that day comes soon then the makers of Gears will mostly likely say it was the plan all along. They’ll probably be lying, but it doesn’t really matter.
Gears of War 2 may be a sign of things to come, where single-player games are more a collection of smaller games and mechanics that don’t relate in any meaningful way. If that’s true, then let’s just hope they keep supporting multi-player modes.