Tech News on G4
'Gears' still grinding out gaming goodness
Apr 22, 2013
By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada
'Gears of War' is one of the most acclaimed shooters of this console generation. It is famous for its unrelenting brutal action and rock solid gameplay. It's no surprise that this series has the dedicated following it does.
What may come as a surprise though is the underwhelming response and or lack of hype surrounding the latest title in the series: 'Gears of War: Judgment'. Some fans have even pondered if this prequel to one of Microsoft's flagship series was even necessary. Fear not 'Gears of War' faithful. 'Judgment' is an enjoyable prequel that manages to carve its own niche in the well-established series. Though a worthy entry, it never manages to hit the same highs as the ones that have come before it.
'Judgment' begins with the unruly Kilo squad being tried before Colonel Loomis, an exceedingly unpleasant man. He must decide if the Cog troop's defiant actions were warranted or not. As each member gives their testimony, you control them in the flashback events they speak of. This different take on storytelling is refreshing and welcome. It comes as such a shame the scenarios aren't all that interesting or as dire as the events in previous 'Gears' games.
The majority of your time will be spent controlling Lt. Damon Bared, the one-liner spitting Cog soliders from previous entries in the series. Also returning is the loud and proud fan favorite: Agustus Cole. Two newcomers Sofia Hendrik and Garron Paduk will also accompany you. Though not bad characters, their passive personalities make them forgettable.
As each testimony begins, bits of the narrative piece together and explain why Kilo squad is being tried in the first place. During these scenarios, its business as usual. If you have played a 'Gears' game in the past, you will feel right at home with 'Judgment'. The weighty, precise gameplay of 'Gears' is in full effect and it feels marvelous. Chainsawing those unfortunate enough to be in your way with your trusty lancer is something you will never grow tired of.
The main campaign brings something new to the table in the form of Delassifieds. At the beginning of most combat sequences you will notice a big bright gears logo somewhere in the environment. Approaching this logo will prompt an option for you to “Declassify” a certain part of the mission for an added challenge. This could be as simple as clearing out the next group of foes with only a shotgun or more intense as escaping a room before toxic gases fills the air. These challenges are amusing at first but can detract from the already weak narrative. I felt as if I was playing the game in a bonus challenge mode the whole time. After every Declassified, a progress screen pops up and tells you how you fared. This option would have fit better as a standalone mode unlocked after the initial completion of the game.
In the end, buying 'Judgment' solely for the campaign might not be the wisest investment as it is can be completed in about five hours and pales in comparison to the core trilogy. Thankfully, something that the 'Gears of War' series has always done superbly was its fast-paced yet tactical multiplayer. Competitive modes make a return in 'Judgment' and are as rewarding as ever, the new Overrun mode being the mainstay. Overrun mode pits five on five, one side controlling the human Cog soldiers and another side the grotesque locust. The premise is simple. The Cogs must defend their generator and the Locust must destroy it. This straightforward yet addictive mode took up most of my time with the multiplayer and proves to be a blast, especially when playing with a coordinated team. Overrun, along with the returning game modes, make multiplayer shine in 'Judgment'. The strange omission of Horde mode might bother some gamers but the new game type more than makes up for its absence.
'Gears of War: Judgment' is a good-quality shooter with a decent amount of fun to be had. While the story mode isn't as compelling as in games past, it still provides an enjoyable distraction. The addition of Overrun mode in multiplayer also makes Judgment a good buy for fans of the series. People looking to get their feet wet with 'Gears' should start with the original trilogy as it is serves as a better introduction to one of the most celebrated action series.
Gears of war: Judgment
Rating: 7.5 / 10
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