Gears of War: Judgment travels back in time with fan favorites: Augustus “The Cole Train” Cole and Damon Baird. While many are wondering why Judgment is prequel and not a full blown game, I’d suggest you keep on reading. There’s a lot to cover and, hopefully, I can explain why Judgment is what it is.
So, let’s get right to it, shall we?
How are the Overall Changes?
There are a few new weapons and with these new weapons comes a new way to swap between during combat. In Judgment, you’ll have to press the Y-Button to cycle through your available weapons and takes a long time to get used to. If you’ve played through all the Gears games, you’re accustomed to using the D-pad to cycle through your weapon inventory. Additionally, you’ll also find yourself wasting grenades since that button has changed as well. These button mappings ended up causing a lot of frustration during the beginning of the game because I often thought I was switching to a specific weapon but only to found myself dead because I wasn’t really doing anything at all.
Gears of War: Judgment also suffers from “Useless AI Syndrome”. Luckily, I was actually co-oping my way through “Judgment” with a human because the computer’s assistance was overall baffling. Sometimes it would pick me up right away whenever I was downed but, at other time,s the AI appeared to be more focused on clearing the area and it would just bypass my downed body altogether and eventually let me die.
The AI is not always dependable. It’s like playing Resident Evil 5 all over again.
How about the “Judgement” Campaign?
The “Judgement” portion of the campaign takes place years before the events of the entire Gears of War trilogy. Fan favorites, Augustus Cole and Damon Baird, lead the Kilo Squad in an attempt to save the remaining survivors of Halvo Bay from a new vicious foe. Fighting along side them are two newcomers: Sofia Hendrick and Garron Paduk who help drop subtle hints on how things used to be before the war started. However, “Judgment” begins right with our foursome recounting their recent exploits to help aid in their personal defenses during a Cog tribunal lead by Ezra Loomis.
You end up playing through each team member’s tribunal testimony while defeating Locusts and uncovering debunking various myths surrounding the Locusts. Additionally, you’ll encounter various declassified missions that you have the option of either completing or skipping. Not only do these declassified missions add complexity to the missions but aid in the overall testimony from the tribunal by revealing some unknown facts about the Locusts. But while these missions do add a level of complexity to the game, they are pretty repetitive in nature. They can alter your weapon load out, your enemy’s load out, your environment or have you complete the mission in a certain time limit. Couple that with the new Smart Spawn System and you will find that you can’t use the same tactics over and over again. Running and gunning doesn’t work here. “Judgment” focuses on cooperative play and seems to penalize anyone who seems to stray from the group. But if that’s not enough, there’s also a tower defense portion of the game that focuses on surviving to three waves in order to progress through the mission.
Between the declassified missions, the Smart Spawn System, and the defensive missions, there’s a lot of replay value but as far as the story goes, it doesn’t really do much to enhance the Gears of War trilogy but it isn’t as bad as the story in Gears of War 2. I’d like to continue to forget that Gears of War 2 ever existed anyway.
But overall, “Judgment” is DIFFICULT on Hardcore. Not saying it’s impossible but it’s definitely much harder to get through the “Judgment” campaign than any other previous Gears campaign on Hardcore.
How about the “Aftermath” Campaign?
“Aftermath” picks up right where Cole and Baird were tasked with finding reinforcements for the final battle in Gears of War 3. None of the “Judgment” enhancements can be found here except for the new weapons. But it’s clear that “Aftermath” wasn’t meant to be a full fledged game. It’s short and vastly easier than the “Judgment” campaign. If you’ve played Gears of War 3, then “Aftermath” is more of the same.
It’s also important to note, that “Aftermath” isn’t unlocked until you earn a certain amount of stars in “Judgment”. So it’s imperative that you do well in “Judgment” before you can even think about playing “Aftermath”.
What about Survival?
The new Survival mode transforms the previous Horde mode into a compacted object oriented co-op mode combining both the original Horde and the new OverRun modes. Survival has you playing as the Cog humans trying to defend an E-Hole from the Locust Horde for 10 waves. Sure, this should be way more easier than playing through 50 waves of Horde but it isn’t. You’ll select between different classes and load-outs and work as a team to make it through each wave. Even on casual, the corpser was able to decimate our defenses on the fifth wave. Again, the computer is only helpful to a point. You can’t play this mode on split screen so again, I have to insist that you play this mode online with your pals.
See a theme here?
Overall, what do you think? Should I pick it up?
If you’re a Gears fan, you’ve probably pre-ordered this and will be playing it right now, if you’re lucky. If you were on the fence about getting the game, there are a lot of re-playable features included in the main campaign and Survival Mode. Keep in mind that Gears of War: Judgment focuses on team based combat. Most of the objectives would be easier completed when you’re able to coordinate with others.
I can’t speak to the competitive modes since I have never found them to be much fun in any of the Gears games.
It’s an OK game but not a satisfying ending to the overall franchise. Even with the new modes and the sophisticated campaign; I was hoping to learn a little bit more about Cole and Baird. “Judgement” just seemed to scratch the surface on our favorite two-some.
Looking for a number score? Sorry, you won’t find one here but I suggest taking a look over here.
† Images provided by Microsoft. Retail version of the game was provided for review.
Category: Third Person Shooter
Release Date: 03/19/2013