Sunday, 17 March 2013

Gears Of War: Judgment Review

Change. That word "Change" is the word that comes to my mind after playing Gears Of War: Judgment. The main campaign isn't your sequel to Gears Of War 3, but rather an entirely different story that takes place before the very first game. On top of a different side to the Gears story there are also many positive changes to the campaign that we was once used to, but lets just leave it at that for now. Multiplayer boasts all new modes (Except one classic) which will all be talked about in detail in this review. Lets see if Judgment can hold up to the past Gears games.

The campaign is based on a group known as the Kilo Squad which is made up of four characters, two of these characters are familiar faces (Damon Baird and Augustus Cole who is better known as "The Cole Train") and two of these characters are newcomers (Sofia Hendrick and Garron Paduk) The Kilo Squad are accused of treason by Colonel Ezra Loomis after a battle against the locust in Halvo Bay. The Kilo Squad are sent to trial as each member tells their side of the story, each side of their story is also one whole chapter. After 5 chapters (Baird gets 2 chapters) we go back to present day at the trial. That is all I can say about the story/plot of Judgment as this is a non spoiler review.

Brand new to the Gears Of War series is the stars system. During each section of the game (Sections vary between 6-8) you can earn up to 3 stars, the stars meter is located at the top left of your screen, and they need to be fully filled in to earn each star. Star progression is earned by doing certain things in the campaign, these actions can earn star progression, completing a declassified mission (More on that later), head shots, earning ribbons, executions and also you can lose star progression by being "downed" by an attacking enemy. Stars aren't just some random bragging rights/earn some achievements feature, they are very big feature of Gears Of War: Judgment as you have to earn 40 stars in campaign mode to even unlock "Aftermath" (Again more on this later) Stars also unlock other items like new multiplayer characters and character skins.

In my opinion the biggest addition to the campaign is the Declassified missions, the missions give more life to the campaign and offer a greater challenge to the campaign (They also boost up star progression) Declassified missions are totally optional, and can be accessed by examining the Gears logo that are painted on walls. Accessing a declassified mission again like stars isn't just a bragging rights feature, it actually unlocks more dialogue from characters who are retelling the story at the trial. Missions range from tasks like completing a section with just one certain weapon, A section that has tons of dust in the area so enemies are hard to see and also destroying certain things, these are just a few of the many different declassified missions.

The campaign itself was pretty solid, I liked how the story was a retelling of the events rather than playing as if it was happening right now because it was different, and I think this is what Epic Games was going for with this whole game which is being different from what we are used too with Gears Of War. Sadly the campaign wasn't all positives for me as I felt the campaign was pretty short compared to past Gears Of War games, sections in each chapter ended way too short, and it caused the campaign to suffer from too much stopping and starting.

The A.I can shaky at times too, when your character is "downed" by an enemy your own team mate walks past you or doesn't even come to save you at all, thankfully it wasn't all the time but it needed to be noted. Other than a few problems here and there I found the campaign fun to play, but maybe stick to human CO-OP if you're going for the harder difficulty. Sometimes in the campaign there will be parts of survival mode (More on that soon) inserted in to the campaign as you have to survive waves of enemies and use fortifications (Fortifications are already automatically placed for you) it's a nice change of pace from the usual campaign we get. I have to applaud the efforts for some real change in the campaign.

Once you have earned 40 stars in the campaign you unlock "Aftermath" which is a lost chapter of Gears Of War 3. This brand new campaign sees a much older Cole and Baird reunite with Paduk. Aftermath only has one chapter with seven sectionst, but the campaign is in Gears Of War 3 style so each section lasts much longer compared to Judgments sections. With it being in Gears Of War 3 style this means that the stars system and declassified missions won't be making an appearance in this lost chapter. It's a nice little 1 hour addition to the game, and I am glad it was there rather than being a paid DLC.

Now it's time to talk about the other half of Gears Of War: Judgment which is the multiplayer, except Team Deathmatch every multiplayer mode is new to the Gears Of War series. The first multiplayer mode you should see on the main menu is the Survival Mode,  Survival is similar to Horde Mode with some new Overrun mode added to it. The object of Survival is to stop all 10 waves of enemies from opening up the E-Hole, you have 3 chances at beating the 10 waves of enemies, but after them 3 chances it is all over. You can pick between 4 different classes of characters, and they are engineer, medic, soldier and scout each come with their own perks like health or a repair gun. I have to say that this mode for me was really difficult, and during my 10 different games of Survival, I only got up to the 6th wave. Fun mode? Yeah,  but you have to trust your team mates and also make sure they are going to be good enough to survive all 10 waves.

Overrun is basically Survival mode expect it's now 5 vs 5, and you can play as the enemies, another fun mode that really needs no more explanation. There is also a Free For All mode which supports up to 10 players, the player wins by being the first to reach 25 kills. Domination is a 5 vs 5 mode with the object being you have to capture all 3 rings, and keep them so you earn points with the first to 250 points winning. Finally there is Team Deathmatch which the classic 5 Vs 5, first to reach the certain kill score wins. On the subject of multiplayer, the maximum level you can earn is level 50 but you can start over again which is pretty much similar to Call Of Duty prestige.

The maps for online in my opinion are pretty good, there are some cool maps that have some map specific environments that can be used to your advantage like for example in one map you can get in this helicopter and fly around the map while shooting at the players on the ground (Trust me it's really fun. Finally you have the character set up mode for your online player, this includes choosing between 9 characters (Half need unlocking), choosing your weapons skin and also character skins. The most interesting part of the mode
is the brand new prizeboxes, prizeboxes range from normal to rare to epic, and each one has their own prize like XP or character skins for example.

The Final Verdict

Gears Of War: Judgment was another great entry to the Gears Of War series, it had some problems which was mostly due to the campaign, but nothing so negative that it is worth lowering the final score even more. I liked how Judgment was a change in direction compared to past Gears games content like the campaign adding these welcomed new features. Also props for not just adding a separate campaign to be used as a DLC. Multiplayer was really fun too, and while I am writing this review I just want to go back to the game and level up some more which shows you how much I liked this game.  If you were unsure before reviews whether to get Gears Of War: Judgment or not, I say to them people "Get this game!"

+Stars System
+Declassified missions
+Lots of content
+Fun multiplayer

-Campaign felt short
-Squad A.I is unreliable

Final Score


Gears Of War: Judgment was reviewed with a copy supplied by Microsoft Studios

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