Gears of War: Judgment is the latest entry in the much celebrated Gears franchise. After the final and absolute ending of Gears of War 3 the new game could only ever be a prequel, something which was experimented with in the RAAM’s Shadow DLC for Gears of War 3. This prequel DLC was set just before the original Gears of War and portrayed the personal rivalry between Kim and RAAM. As a preorder bonus, you get a free digital copy of the original Gears of War which by all accounts is still a decent game and helps give context around the Gears of War storyline.(Although the Previously on Gears of War recap helps)
Judgment is the first game in the franchise that wasn’t developed by Epic games, instead development duties have been handled by People Can Fly. New Gears games usually come with a heap of changes and Judgment is no different, People Can Fly have put their own stamp on the game and it’s good to see a developer being brave and making some changes that go against the status quo. A new developer initially could be seen a cause for concern for some Gears fans but to their credit People Can Fly have kept Judgment faithful to the essence of the previous titles (in story mode)
” People Can Fly have made their mark on Gears “
The campaign for Gears of War Judgement can be completed as a solo adventure with bots playing as the rest of Kilo squad, but as ever the campaign is that much more enjoyable by playing co-operatively with friends either split screen or online. The campaign feels like it’s an extended DLC for Gears of War 3 and actually plays similarly. Albeit there are a few changes, including the introduction of stim grenades that restore health and revive a downed ally, but they feel fairly redundant as health normally regenerates anyway. The Declassify feature, which provides extra challenges as part of the locust fights, aims to give Gears veterans an extra challenge, this sometimes gives the stim grenades their time to shine. As the player progresses they earn stars which unlock various extras, encouraging the player to strive to complete as many of the extra challenges as possible.
Declassify enhances the difficulty of the Gears of War Judgement campaign and usually as a battle altering change to the upcoming locust skirmishes, in the form of a timer, tougher enemies, reduced visibility, restricting load outs or health regeneration capabilities. In addition to this players are rewarded with the promise of earning the stars faster as an incentive to declassify.
The campaign feels like it is split into different zones containing sometimes seemingly endless waves of locust enemies and lacks any real direction of storyline. Some of the chapters can feel like small chunks of the horde mode from the previous titles. The storyline itself, initially, is told retrospectively, with each chapter forming a testimony of one of the characters. However, once the story moves to the present day everything starts to come together and feels like you are playing a Gears campaign.
An additional mode, Aftermath (an extension of the main story) is unlocked after earning 40 stars, which isn’t too challenging as Gears stalwarts will be able to probably amass 90 stars by declassifying by the time the campaign is finished. Aftermath is where Judgment actually starts shining and feels well and truly like a Gears campaign but unfortunately it is over too soon. All in all the campaign probably takes 6-8 hours depending on your skill level. The storyline of Aftermath adds a potential new direction to the Gears franchise but you will need to play it yourself to make your own Judgment (That was awful- Jack).
Gears always have delivered an excellent offering online with enough games modes to keep it varied, but you may feel a little short changed as the game comes with four multiplayer maps and four versus games modes and none of them are series standards Warzone, Execution or Wingman. We hear rumours of some free DLC which would contain some new maps and game modes, so let’s hope the developers give something to the loyal fans of the franchise something that will be music to their ears.
One of the more noticeable changes in the multiplayer modes is the lack of playable Locust (Unless you’re into the new mode Overrun). In the modes we’ve played so far it’s COG vs. COG. Does this herald a change of direction for future instalments, or will the Locust be making a return in future DLC?
We mentioned Overrun above which is a completely new experience of Gears it’s a class based fight between Locust and COG soldiers, which online players working together as a team to stop their Generator from being destroyed. Survival mode is Horde mode but with the same class system as Overrun. Players co-operatively face waves of increasingly difficult to overcome Locust forces. Free for all is exactly what it says on the tin, “If it moves you can shoot it” actually is great fun and if you lose you can only blame yourself or a personal favourite of mine on the “lag”.
Gears of War Judgment is a good looking game though. The environments are as well designed as they ever were (especially for those who like the colours grey and brown). It’s not a major step up from Gears of War 3 in this department, so it will certainly be interesting to see how the series progresses once the next generation Xbox is unleashed.
” Things get personal in free for all “
The controls themselves have undergone some changes the D Pad is no longer used to equip weapons or grenades the new controls include tapping “LB” to throw a grenade (which makes tagging other players virtually impossible due to the requirement of holding LB) of which are overpowered. Warning signals are no longer displayed as a player approaching with an incendiary or poison grenade would be easily identified and avoided, but simply tapping “LB” eliminates this cautionary tactic.
It’s easy to see that Gears Judgment is made to be more accessible to other players and is effectively easier for new players to the franchise, but the multiplayer may be a bitter pill for hard-core Gears fans to swallow. Gears of Duty could be an appropriate name for the game. That said the multiplayer is much more frantic, and this could prove a major selling point for those accustomed to other shooters on the market. Of course, new DLC will be coming and will include new maps and game modes. Let’s hope the developers have given the Gears fans what they want. For us Gears nuts at Developer’s Accomplice, that’s Warzone and Execution modes.
Overall, Gears of War Judgment is a worthy entry into the series. People Can Fly has done a good job of maintaining what’s good about Gears whilst giving it their own unique spin. There are a few gripes that purists will have, especially in the multiplayer modes, but for those new to the series this proves a good starting point. For long-time fans, it’s just good to be back to slaughtering the Locust (if only in the single player for now).
• Another entry of Gears.
• Implies some interesting next steps for the franchise.
• More new maps and game modes online.
• Online carnage is quite fun!
• Quite a lot of change
• Feels like DLC early on
• No warzone or execution on release
Gears of War Judgment will get a 7 from us at Developer’s Accomplice, by all accounts it is a great game and the bravest entry in the series in terms of changes, but some of the changes may be a step too far for some Gears fans. For me the multiplayer lets it down a touch, there is too much happening all at once and the epic shotgun battles of the old do not occur (no ability to save a friend with Down But Not Out removed). Sorry Epic but this sequels multiplayer was a gamble that sadly for me didn’t pay off.