Gears of War Judgement is the fourth instalment of the Gears of War Franchise from Software house Epic Games. The prequel, that’s right it’s a prequel, is the first in the franchise, and it is also the first time that you will not be playing Marcus Fenix, who, most gears fans will know, has been the main character you play for all 3 Gears Of War games thus far.
Gears of War Judgement is still up to the high standard that we have come to expect from the the Gears of War franchise. It will see you heading back to the beginning and playing through the aftermath of Emergence Day. As storylines go, I really liked how this was put together and paced. You play the part of Lt. Baird who leads Kilo Squad. The game itself is put together as a re-enactment, where each member of Kilo Squad is accused of treason and are giving their accounts of what part they played. As this happens you get to switch to each member of the squad and play their role; it’s a really nice twist on the game and kind of keeps things fresh for an old veteran, like me, to the Gears Of War games. The control system has been tweaked to make the game play even more fluidly, with only a few clicks to change weapon or simple run for cover. Visuals are nice enough too, making an expected progression since last time out. They’re nothing spectacular for a game so late in the console’s life, and there’s little to write home about, but it’s the better looking of the series so far and is easy on the eye while playing – some of the environments shine especially.
However, there are some downsides. I can’t help feeling that while they’re fleshing out more of the history of the Gears universe, it could be turning into another Halo or COD, where the fans and the developers refuse to let it die a dignified death. I felt a little railroaded in the game, and the maps still made me feel like I was a mouse in a maze. These really are the only problems I found though, and most of them can be overlooked as the storyline dwarfs these problems. One of the biggest things for me in any game is if it draws me in, and from the very first game it has, the way Epic can tell a story in such a cinematic way is outstanding. With the help of the TV adverts, which bring you even closer to the characters, to the voice acting, to the graphics. It all comes together to make, for me anyway, a great story and one that could make the jump to the big screen very easily.
Another nice touch I found after completing the game, was the unlock I got which would let me play Gears of War Aftermath. This is basically set at the end of Gears 3 when Baird and Cole go looking for reinforcements. It picks up what Baird gets up to. Now a cynic would say that because Gears of War Judgement was a short game and they had to think of something to put in to bolster the hours you would spend on the game by giving you what really is a DLC for free. However, I’m not a cynic and I would like to thank Epic for not making this a paid-for DLC, and I think it adds a great chunk of story and I loved it, it was nice to see what Baird got up to in that time.
For those of you who like multiplayer, you are not going to be let down. I feel in this incarnation of Gears it feels right and doesn’t feel so clunky. Maps have been laid out better and there seems to be a better grasp of what a multiplayer game should be. All the things that you would expect are there with a few added extras, like the new game mode ‘Over Run’ which can be great fun with a good group of people. There are 8 maps in total, 4 are dedicated to the Over Run game. Gears games have mostly given us a good online experience and Gears of War Judgement is no exception, you can see that they have really tweaked a lot of the online play and tried to make it as tight as possible.
Overall Gears of War Judgement is a great game. At the time of writing this review, I am on my second run through, on the hardest setting, which is proving somewhat harder and even more intense. Fans of the Gears franchise will enjoy this rebirth as it continues on the story, building on what already is a universe filled full of story heroes. If you are new to the Gears games then this is a great one to pick up and play first and then go onto play the first Gears. Great game.
Reviewed on XBox 360