First look: Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360)

We test the latest addition to the third person action series

Much like God of War, the Gears of War series has reached an impasse after a trilogy of games and instead looks back for inspiration. In this case, Gears of War: Judgement is set in the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day, which is when the Locusts invasion happened and set the events into motion for 2006’s Gears of War. Unlike the past games, Gears of War: Judgment is development by People Can Fly, which is the studio behind 2004’s sleeper hit, Painkiller.

A different story

A big change for the series is that it does not focus on the pairing of Marcus and Dom, and instead focuses on Baird and the three other members of Kilo squad. Other ways that People Can Fly has adjusted Gears of War: Judgment over prior instalments is both in the narrative and gameplay. The mostly linear storytelling in the original trilogy has been replaced with a narrative that is played out in flashbacks, with the player taking turns in controlling each of the four team members.

When it comes to the gameplay, the developer has added a “mission declassification” system. Before each level, the player has the option of walking up to a glowing “crimson omen” logo and activating it. Doing so sets into motion an added mission objective that typically forces the player to meet certain conditions. Some of these objectives include environmental obstacles, such as reduced visibility, while others extend to tougher enemies and choice of weaponry being limited.

Faithful and fun

The new gameplay mechanic is a welcome addition, as it really does make the player have to play the game differently than they would normally. If a player wants to play the game as a pure Gears of War experience, they can ignore the prompts for the additional objectives and play it that way. Replayability then comes in the form of playing the game again with the additional objectives if they chose to do so.

Graphics and sound are of a high level expected of the franchise, and the developer had the benefit of full access to the assets and tools from Epic to make this a reality. The only drawbacks are the same for the entire series, such as the lack of variety in the colour pallet, and the gameplay overshadowing the mostly forgettable story. Having said that, Gears of War: Judgement works well as a game and is a solid addition to the series.

Pros

- Familiar Gears of War mechanics faithfully recreated.

- Well crafted and enjoyable gameplay experience.

- “Mission declassification” system a welcome addition.

Cons

- No Marcus or Dom.

- Baird and the other characters are largely forgettable.

- Not much variety in the environments.

Bottom Line

Gears of War: Judgment is a blast from start to finish, containing enough new fratures to make it stand out from the original trilogy.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
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