Gaming Week 17: Gears of War: Judgement (360)

This actually looks like a EA cover...

They all look so cool!

(This review won’t touch multiplayer, just the main campaign.)

Gears of War judgement starts as it means to go on: A mediocre GoW game that can’t quite reach the highs of the previous instalments. New ways of playing don’t help to make the game anymore immersive, and it all just ends up leaving a player deflated once finished.

So the premise for GoW: Judgement is that it’s a prequel, based around Damon Baird, Augustus Cole, Sofia Hendrik and Garron Paduk, just months after emergence day. Baird and his band of merry men, are put on trial for activating a light mass bomb that could of been used for other purposes, and against orders not to. Most of the campaign missions follow Baird and his crew through recollections of what happened up to the point of activating the bomb, and slightly after. It’s quite a good story telling mechanic, and allows for some interesting new ways to play. One of these is to activate a declassified mission at the start of each level; with this, Baird (or whoever is telling the story at the time) add’s some every details to their account of what happened, to which you then have to play out. It certainly added some variety to the combat, making players use only a shield in some levels, or adding fog to a field to reduce visibility. It’s a new mechanic that I’d love to see in other games in the future. Overall the story of GoW: Judgement doesn’t really add anything to the overall universe of Gears. Maybe I’m a vocal minority when I say this, but It feels pointless, and not needed at all.

Gameplay is the same as old games, with only 1 new enemy to spice things up. The environments are things we’ve all seen before, which is a shame, because People Can Fly and Epic had the chance to explore some really nice locations that maybe weren’t touched by the locusts yet or were in the process of being destroyed by the locust horde.

The look and feel of GoW Judgement hasn’t changed since the original many years ago, it’s just been refined to the point of no longer having any advantages. Controller layout has changed, which caused some confusion early on, but I’m sure was made to streamline the Gears experience and bring it up to par with the rest of the industry at the moment. Combat takes place like any other game in the franchise, with enemies popping up from a hole, whilst you duck and cover behind anything in the vicinity. I think one reviewer made the point of cover systems feeling like space invaders many years ago with the original Gears, and to some extent that comparison still holds true. There’s not much you can do with a genre when you’re forced to sacrifice game play for realism, and the Gears series have definitely backed themselves into a corner when it comes to innovation.

Pros:

  • Solid narration leads to new interesting game play
  • As addictive as previous Gears of War games

Cons:

  • Boring and non-essential story
  • Short levels make it feel more like a set of side missions than a main campaign (Some levels can be finished in 3 minutes)

Overall, GoW: Judgement was a short game that didn’t bring anything new to the table in the third person shooter category of games. It may be a must have for die hard Gears fans, but it certainly can be skipped by the mass of consumers.

2/5

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