Gears of War: Judgment

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Arcade-style gameplay
  • New multiplayer modes
  • Additional weapons
  • Two campaigns

Cons

  • Short life-span
  • A little repetitive
  • Lacks character depth

Key Features

  • Review Price: £39.99

Introduction

Gears of War: Judgment is set fifteen years before

the first GoW game and follows the story of the original partnership

between two of the series’ main characters: Augustus Cole and Damon

Baird.

The latest title has been developed by People Can Fly

studio; the same team behind manic arcade shooter Bulletstorm. Their

hand in Judgement is clear to see with competitiveness and high scores

taking precedent over a captivating storyline.

What Gears of

War: Judgment does bring though is a revitalisation to a franchise

that’s been stuck in a rut. The first game held so much promise, but the

series had pushed the third-person shooter as far as it could go within

the rigid confines the series offered. Judgement prefers to hover much

closer to the arcade gaming experience, and does so with great success.

Gears of War: Judgment

Gears of War: Judgment – Plot

Following

the story of the series’ Alpha squad members, Cole and Baird, the game

begins with the four members of their pre-series team, Kilo squad, being

taken into their trial for war crimes. The game then plays out what

events led them to being in that situation, taking the story from the

perspectives of each character, including two new faces – Garron Paduk

and Sofia Hendrick.

All four are young, rebellious characters

trying to find their place in life in the middle of a war. Paduk, who

actually fought on the opposing side of the civil war, has now joined up

with his old enemies to fight the greater threat of the Locust.

Hendrick, on the other hand, is a youthful military cadet, trapped

between wanting to impress her superiors and her alternate rebellious

romanticism.

Baird and Cole are meant to be brash, patriotic,

younger versions of the well-loved characters from the main series.

Unfortunately, the characteristic sarcasm and witty banter that made

them those characters is missing. Instead, the comic relief portion of

the game falls flat and largely fails to provide a breather from the

often dark dialogue.

Gears of War: Judgment

The

new team often finds it difficult to fuses together as a cohesive unit,

however this adds to the appeal and realism of the Judgment storyline.

The squad isn’t a bullet-hard military operation or a pack of

inexperienced youths. Rather they are impressionable and eager to earn

military distinction without losing their devotion to the cause – their

fellow men.

Each of the characters comments on their changing

surroundings, providing sporadic narratives for their experiences during

each mission and providing helpful back-story filler that helps brings

the player closer to understanding the reason why the squad faces trial.

Epic

Games and the People Can Fly team have worked hard to try and create

rounded characters, but in a campaign that only provides around 5-10

hours of gameplay, they aren’t quite as desirable as some might think.

Gears of War: Judgment

Gears of War: Judgment – Gameplay

With

the People May Fly development team onboard, Gears of War: Judgment is

much more akin to an arcade experience than a tactical shooter.

Judgement offers two playable campaigns that are related in storyline,

yet distinct from each other in terms of gameplay style.

The main

campaign is the one of the title, following the four previously

discussed characters fifteen years prior to the first Gears of War game.

Instead of featuring a long unbroken narrative like the original

series, Judgment is broken down into small, playable chunks each rated

on a three-star scale, where the player earns more stars depending on

their performance. Higher scores can be achieved by completing more

kills, turning enemies into “gibs”, performing headshots and completing

achievements or ribbons during the mini-chapter.

Any “down but

not out” injuries will negatively affect your score. The AI, although

vastly improved in this title, still leaves you crawling about on the

ground waiting for someone to help you up, meaning access to precious

kills and creativity bonuses can be lost out on while you’re waiting.

Gears of War: Judgment

A

huge score boost can be earned if you opt in to what the game calls the

“Declassified” mission options. These are optional objectives that

serve to make the combat much more varied. As with other games in the

series, the constant combat can get a little repetitive. Accessible via a

glowing Gears logo on a building early on in each segment, Declassified

objectives employ certain mission restrictions such as reduced

visibility, increased enemy presence, limited ammo or reliance on a

single weapon.

Judgement offers some challenging combat once the

Declassified option is engaged, and the move also adds extra

replayability as you battle to achieve three stars on every level, however

the repetition of ‘start chapter, pick up Declassified objective,

survive, rinse, repeat’ does start to feel a little tedious after a while. Nevertheless it’s also a well-executed attempt to bring new gameplay options to a

tired series and introduces some enjoyable new weapons too.