Review: Gears of War: Judgment

Gears of War is a franchise that has been quite dear to me since the original launched in 2006. The combat of the series has always had a certain charm that has never been rivaled by other third person shooters of the age. Gears of War: Judgment  is one of those games nobody could be too sure about before it came out. Was it going to be a solid title that stands beside the Gears trilogy? Today I dive in to find out.

First and foremost, Judgment is strange. It’s definitely a production of People Can Fly, as its much more co-op oriented gameplay is very similar to Bulletstorm. It actually feels like Gears of War and Bulletstorm had a baby, and that was Gears: Judgment. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it definitely will turn a lot of Gears of War players off because they’re used to slower gameplay than what Judgment offers.

Well, now that I’ve covers the outlandishness of the game, let’s move onto the story. Judgment’s story revolves around Kilo Squad within the first few months after Emergence Day, the day the Locust attacked humanity. When the game opens, Lt. Damon Baird along with Pvt. Augustus Cole, Pvt. Garron Paduk and Pvt. Sofia Hendrick are on trial with Col. Ezra Loomis for treason. As it turns out, Baird and the rest of Kilo ignored orders and followed through with their own plan to fight the locust despite their superiors clearly telling them not too.

What’s really cool about this campaign is that every character tells their own testimony, which puts you in that individuals shoes during that chapter. This allows for a very interesting way for Epic and People Can Fly to tell a quite intricate story. Sadly, this was not the case.

The story is okay, but it lacks any real depth or concern that the other Gears of War games have offered. It’s essentially “Go here, listen to a bit of (oftentimes humorous) dialog, kill things, progress, repeat.” Now don’t get me wrong, I actually had quite a bit of fun playing the campaign with friends. It’s heavily designed for co-op, so make sure you bring some buds along! However, the story itself is lacking, and although it’s not really bad, it’s also not really good, and it could have been.

Let’s get a bit more in depth about the meta-game within campaign though. In the campaign, each chapter is split into “missions” which are anything from hold your ground to progressing just like in the normal Gears campaigns. Each mission has one COG tag to find and one “Declassified Mission” which modifies the gameplay in a certain way, e.g. sandstorms or giving everyone a sawed-off shotgun. This adds diversity to the gameplay and spices it up a bit, making it a more lasting experience. Along with this, you have a scoring system called stars. You can earn up to three stars on each mission, the better you do the more stars you earn and the more unlockables you unlock, which carry over to multiplayer.

The multiplayer in this game is good sometimes and bad most of the time. The new mode they added, OverRun, is probably the best team competitive mode in the game, with Free For All taking the cake as the best competitive altogether. Team Deathmatch, Domination and the newly added Execution feel very tacked on and remove everything I loved from the original Gears of War competitive experience (patience, strategy) and plugged in an exploding-cluster-fuck-a-palooza.

OverRun is basically Beast mode and Horde from Gears of War 3 combined. One team played Locust and the other COG, both of which have different classes to play with different roles in the fight. The Locust are attacking the COG in an attempt to open the emergence hole covers that the COG are fighting to protect. There are three rounds (assuming the Locust win) and then the roles switch between the teams. Whichever team either gets farther or does it faster, depending on how close the game was. This is my favorite competitive mode. There is also a co-op version of this mode where you play against Locust bots, this is called Survival and is essentially Horde with objectives.

Free For All, Team Deathmatch, Domination and Execution are pretty much what you’d expect from Gears of War, except a few key differences. In typical Deathmatch games, you spawn with one primary (Rifle or Shotgun of choice), a Snub Pistol and a Grenade of choice (Frag, Ink, Smoke, Spot, or Stim-Gas). The gameplay is much faster, you can jump to lower levels of the map, down-but-not-out is removed, stopping power is removed from the rifles, and run-and-gun is much more accepted in these modes. These differences are what bring this game down and make it feel like yet another fast-paced shooter that we have all played before. Also there’s only five maps. What the hell.

Unlockables are quite fun though. As you level up, kill enemies, and get ribbons in game, you’ll acquire prizeboxes. Each prizebox will give you a new character skin, weapon skin or a boost of experience. These are completely random and will net you some cool aesthetic gear for you to roll around in. Of course, in today’s market you should be expecting this next part.  Several of these skins are not obtainable via unlock and must be acquired through micro-transactions. Great.

Gears of War: Judgment is not what most Gears of War fans want. It doesn’t really FEEL like a Gears of War game and the multiplayer is decent at best. However, where Judgment does shine is in the cooperative fun you’ll have with your buddies playing through the story mode, struggling to fight off the horde in survival, or suicide bombing the COG in OverRun. The competitive multiplayer is quite lackluster and you’re better off playing Gears of War 3 (or even Gears of War 1 for that matter). If you’re a really big fan of the series, this is something you should play, but don’t go out of your way for it. It’s really not a big deal.

Badges:

*They Slipped Up

*Skippable

*Co-optimal

*Not much content

I give Gears of War: Judgment a 3/5.

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