Gears of War: Judgement Review

Gears of War has long been one of the Xbox 360's stand out exclusives, famous for pioneering gameplay with the refinement of horde modes and third person cover systems, it seems the series went from strength to strength but with the conclusion of the main storyline featured in Gears of War 3, what more can this prequel bring to the table?

Gameplay
If you've played Gears of War before and are familiar with the backstory, Gears Of War: Judgement takes place just after the events of E-Day, the day the Locust enemy first emerged from beneath the grounds of Sera. This time around, you step into the boots of Damon Baird, leader of Kilo squad backed up with fan favourite Augustus 'the Cole Train' Cole, Sofia Hendrick, the only woman featured in this title and Garron Paduk, a Russian accented man from Gorasnaya. The game starts with you being court marshalled and then the gameplay takes part in flashbacks that lead up to that point. The story is pretty throw away and nothing major happens until you hit the final chapter where the flashbacks finally catch up to where you were at the start of the game and then stuff starts getting serious.

Ok... now that's a HUGE bit**
Once you reach a certain rank, you unlock a deleted scene from Gears of War 3, this is called Aftermath and it takes place during the middle of Gears 3, which is set way off into the future from Judgement. Near the end of Gears 3, Marcus sends Cole and Baird to get more back up for the war against the Locust, Baird and Cole back travel to Halvo Bay, taking Clayton Carmine along for the ride and you once again meet up with Paduk who then helps you out with your situation.

As for gameplay, again if you've played Gears before you already know what you're in for. Other than a control scheme change and a couple other minor adjustments (see design), everything is the same as previous titles. You navigate the environments in 3rd person and when you see some cover, press A to slide into it to avoid the incoming bullet hell. It's seems fairly obvious by now but credit where it's due, Gears does cover based shooting better than any other game I've played with a similar mechanic.

Weapons in the game are all series staples, the Lancer, that iconic chainsaw gun is ever present as always and is a great go to assault rifle, as well as shotguns, snipers and all the strange Locust weapons such as the digger, the torque bow and Boomshot and all the other regulars. There are a couple of new guns in the game, the Booshka, a grenade launcher and the Markza, a sniper rifle with the scope missing. That sounds ridiculous but it does have one hell of a kick to it and will stop an enemy in their tracks if you hit them in the sweet spots.

One downside to the game is the graphical issues it has when running from disc, you get a lot of texture pops that show up as big glaring white spots if you turn the camera around too quickly. The other issue is bugs, and I've come across a few of them. Here's a video I recorded of one of them while I was playing online with my brother, this by no means represents the game as a whole, however I thought it was hilarious and I'd like to add that it fixed itself after a while.



Multiplayer
I've never been a fan of the Gears Multiplayer, not because I'm bad at it but everyone I get put up against is just so much better than me. Anyway the Multiplayer hasn't really changed all that much, you still have the standard free for all and team deathmatches game types, as well returning modes including Domination where you have to capture bases on the map to gain points, reach the designated score to win and Execution, where you have to kill people with headshots or gibs to actually get a solid kill. The character roster is lacking in variety but I'm guessing DLC will probably add more but if like me you don't really play Gears for the competitive aspect, you won't really care all that much for map packs.

I know where all the cover is now MUHAHAHA.
Horde mode has evolved into the new Survival mode, it's similar in play style but changes the basics. The game is played with up to five players and has you go 10 rounds against the AI enemy. The maps now have objectives to protect, be it an e-hole cover or a generator and you get three shots overall to keep these in contact or its mission over. You have four different characters to choose from, the Soldier who has a heavy gun and grenades, an Engineer who can repair fortifications and deploy sentry guns, a Sniper which speaks for itself and a Medic who is the only player who can heal others when they’re down. The best way is to get a good team and have at least 1 of each specialist to succeed. Fortifications are already placed around the levels that slow the Locust down as to not destroy you right from the get go and these can be fixed if they get damaged, but only if you play as the engineer.

Two new game types are Overrun and Master at Arms, the first being a Multiplayer version of survival mode which sandwiches Horde and Beast modes of Gears 3 together, and has you battling against other players while still maintaining the objectives aspect of gameplay. If you're on the Cog side, you protect some arbitrary object and as the Locust you have to destroy it. Master at Arms has you change gun after each kill and the winner is the first to use all 20 weapons but this is not included on the disc and can only be played if you pay for the DLC.

Shoot, shoot and while you're at it, shoot again.
Another load of content is gated behind DLC paywalls in the form of character customisation, which include weapon and character skins but these are purely cosmetic and have no effect on gameplay at all. On the other hand, you can also pay microtransactions to give yourself double XP for a set amount of games and then if you become a VIP member, you can play special game types only available to other VIPs.

Design
Controls and the selection of guns have been given an overhaul, you're now limited to just two guns which you switch between using the Y button, grenades are now on LB and you no longer carry a sidearm unless you specifically pick one up, but that replaces one of your other main weapons. The tactical HUD is now located on the D-pad so if you can't see your teammates, you can check around you to see if they need your help.

Gameplay has gone from being large open maps to corridors of shooting, where you literally walk in a straight line and shot the baddies as they line up to be killed. If you do come across a big open area, expect there to be a few waves of enemies as this happens at least once in each of the 5 chapters and makes the game a bit too predictable.

Another aspect which I personally didn't enjoy, was that the game is broken up into tiny segments now, you have a corridor shooty bit and then when you get to the end, you hit a button on the D-pad to continue, the game then shows you leaderboards and tells you how you have performed; it really breaks the immersion and the flow of the game. Saying that though, at the start of a new section, you'll find a giant glowing red skull, going up to investigate it will give you the option to modify that part of the game such as everyone has to use pistols or mortar strikes will rain down after two minutes causing you to rush through that specific section. While most of these are pretty fun, some of them add really difficult challenges and can become frustrating but ultimately they are optional so it's up to you if you want the extra challenge or not.

Final Verdict
Gears Of War: Judgement is a competent game, but overall I found it a bit of a letdown. Its removal of the traditional Horde mode really disappointed me and the corridor shooting that it's become leaves you with nothing to explore like the older games allowed you to do a bit more. Also I really dislike the flashback storytelling as you know nothing serious is going to happen from the get go and the story itself is pretty lackluster. Play in Multiplayer if you're going to get this as it's a lot more fun with some co-op buddies.

Gameplay = 8/10
Multiplayer = 7/10
Design = 5/10

Final We Know Gamers Score out of 6.6/10
Had a chance to play the game? Have a different opinion to mine? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet me - @ChaosRiotZero

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