Gears of War: Judgment marks a change of tack for one of Microsoft’s AAA titles because not only does it not feature Marcus Fenix in the main campaign, it also mixes things up with the gameplay with a faster-paced game that’s more objective based and which tracks your every move so you can earn achievements and boast to fellow grub-punishers online.
The story follows the actions of Kilo Squad during the climax of Emergence Day and it’s all told through a series of flashbacks as Baird, Cole, Sofia and Paduk all testify of their innocence to the council. In single player you’ll play through campaigns where you take on the role of each of the four as they give their point of view of the action, and the gameplay is split up further into smaller sections where you must meet objectives to earn stars which in turn unlock new upgrades and another short campaign called Aftermath that feels similar to a deleted scene from a movie that plays through a campaign set during Gears of War 3.
At the start of each section simply walk up to a red Cog marker on the wall and you’ll be able to alter the action slightly. For example, you might change the story to say there was dust effecting visibility in the next section, or that your comrades are going to set off poison gas in four minutes resulting in instant death if you don’t get to the exit in time. It’s meant to make the challenge harder but my question is why would you not want to accept all of the extra challenges? It would almost feel as if you were missing out or being a pussy.
Because the action is a bit more frantic and you’ve got three AI team mates with you who tend to rush forward, you’ll find you’re not shooting from cover as much either. Gears controls have always been a bit clunky and this can lead to chaotic moments when you’re not sure where the enemies are coming from and you can’t turn or shoot quick enough if they decide to sneak up behind you.
As you’d expect from Epic and their subsidiary People Can Fly that made the fun, b-movie-like FPS Bulletstorm, everything’s very slick. Graphics are glossy even though they’re all mostly a shade of brown or grey once again, characters are colourful and have their own quips they like to throw into the mix when killing Locusts, and there are some new monsters to fight along with new ways to kill them that mostly go boom!
You can play through the whole campaign alone or with up to three friends and there’s plenty to keep achievement hunters busy as the game tracks almost everything you do and keeps you notified with progress bars in the bottom right hand corner. And if you like your action online then the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s a survival mode to keep you busy where you must protect objectives from waves of enemies to prevent your squad from being pushed back through a map and of course a full competitive multiplayer mode with Team Deathmatch, Free For All, Domination and a new class-based 5 vs 5 mode called OverRun.
I know people complain about cover shooters but Gears of War did it very well in the previous Gears of War trilogy. This game mixes things up a bit and to be honest, I personally wish they’d kept the gameplay a little more classic and not opted for the bitty challenges that break up the story. Still, this by no means ruins the game and if you want change, then you’ve got it. I judge this game to be an 8 out of 10.
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