It’s Gears Jim but not as we know it!
On March 22nd 2013 Gears Of War Judgment launched to the masses. Starting immediately after Emergence Day, Gears Of War Judgment is a prequel and focuses on the events leading up to the Gear Of War trilogy.
It’s only fair that we break the review up into two parts looking at the single player and then the multiplayer. I have always been a fan of the multiplayer part of the game including the ability to play through the story line in co-op mode. Gears Of War Judgment promises an in-depth and unique storyline with an excellent multiplayer mode that fans know and love. But does it deliver all it promises?
Gears Of War Judgment: Single Player
Gears of War has been part of my game collection since its very first outing in 2006 and it’s still regularly found in my Xbox 360 with many a late night game session being played on Gears Of War 3. The orignal Gears of War brought many game changing and never before seen elements to the table and each new outing saw an improvement to the series. So how can the fourth in the series get things so wrong?
In Gears Of War Judgment you take the role of Lieutenant Baird placed on trail with the rest of his ‘Kilo’ squad. The story unfolds with you taking control of each of Lieutenant Baird’s squad members to see the action and events leading up to a court case from each of their points of view.
Damon Baird and Augustus ‘The Cole Train’ Cole are joined by two newcomers, Sofia “Tight Pants” Hendrick and Garron Paduk, to form Kilo Squad. Each character adds a unique view to the court case with the battle hardened Baird and Cole not flinching when facing hordes of Locust. However, Hendrick, straight out of the academy is naive and easily led into events that lead up to the infamous court case.
Playing the role of Lieutenant Baird just feels odd; I didn’t feel any connection to him. Even though we have met and fought alongside Baird in the series the main roles over the last 3 games have always been Marcus and Dom. For me Baird doesn’t have the grit and depth of Marcus, he’s more of the lovable rogue than an kick ass action hero.
In relation to the controls the first thing you will notice is that the Dpad weapon selection has gone. Now you press the Y button to switch between your two weapons. Grenades are now used by pressing LB. Hold LB down to bring up the throwing arch or quick tap to throw the grenade which is great when pinned down in cover.
The new Mission Declassification system does add some new depths and layers to the levels and offers experienced gamers even more of a challenge within each level. Usually the system adds more and harder enemies for you to face. A slight niggle I found is that even though you can give yourself more of a challenge you can cheat your way through the levels. As with all the Gears of War each section of the game is really just one large arena with you and your squad facing waves of enemies. The object; kill them and move onto the next arena. This is where the new Mission Declassifacation system adds that extra depth. Once activated you will be fighting in the dark, have locust spawn points behind you and play with limited ammo making every shot count. So how do you cheat your way through the levels? Before you enter each “New Arena” you get to choose if you want to activate the Mission Declassification system. Once you have decided you usually open a door leading to your next battle and nine times out of ten walk through the door to trigger the hordes then retreat back into the area where you activate the system leaving your crack shot AI controlled squad members to wipe out the enemies and allowing you to pick off the odd locust that gets past them.
One more odd change to the system is the active reload. Yes there is still a sweet spot for fast reloading but gone is the power boost that hitting the sweet spot used to give you, instead you just reload slightly faster.
Overall the single player campaign is OK; it’s Gears of War without the balls of the past three. I completed the main story in around 4hrs and watched what has to be one of the worst endings I have ever seen in a video game. But once completed or once you have earned 40 stars in the campaign you open Aftermath. Gears of War Aftermath returns back to Gears of War 3 and tells the story of Baird and Cole as they are sent by Marcus to arrange transpiration. Aftermath even though short was a nice touch and really did leave me wanting more.
Gears Of War Judgment: Multiplayer
Where do we start? 4 Multiplayer Maps, No Executions, COG Vs COG, Unbalanced Weapons, Pointless Active reloads, Maps that are far too big or Micro Transactions and Season Passes?
With four main multiplayer modes, Team DeathMatch, Overrun, Domination and Free For All, along with Survival (which is basically overrun again) the multiplayer feels like it’s lacking content.
Sees you take control of the COG or Locust as you battle to defend or attack E-Hole. For the first time in the Gears franchise there is a welcome addition of the class system. The class system lets you pick between a Medic, Scout, Engineer and ????. This is the only mode where tatics play a massive role. As with Horde mode in the last outing you collect points for killing the emeny, putting up and taking down defences etc… The odd thing here is if your playing as the COG these points mean nothing, unlike the locust where you can spend points on upgrading to a more powerful eminey the COG points are worthless.
Is a five on five battle for three control points placed throughout the maps. For me this is this best mode it’s fast and fun and tactics really do come into play. The larger maps are perfect for Domination.
Oh dear, what has happend to Gears of War multiplayer? After many long late night season honing my skills on past Gears of War Team Deathmatch this was the mode I was most looking forward to. There was nothing better then taking your online enemy as a Meat Shield or causing total humiliation by executing them. Well No More! For some reason all of this has now gone. That’s right No Executions and No Meat Shields. Also, as in all the online modes, active reloads are pretty much pointless really only allowing you to reload faster and not giving you that extra kick in the balls that we have come to love. I also found the maps, all four of them, to be way too big for five on five multiplayer. There was one point when I only managed to kill one person in the whole game, not because I kept getting killed but because I couldn’t find anyone else. You will also find that Gears Of War Judgment is COG Vs COG or Blue Vs Red, yes thats right you do not get to play as the locust.
Free For All:
Is what it says it is, everyman for him/her self. Again the four maps all though large and fun to play are just to large for 5 vs 5 PVP. You also find because of the unbalanced guns that the lancer, retro lancer and hammer burst are pointless as they just don’t have the power without the active reloads. You will find Free For All matches are just large scale Shotgun Matches.
This mode as replaced Horde Mode only this time there is only 10 waves to face. Survival is basicly a watered down version of OverRun. Its a fun mode for you and four friends to kick back and kick some ass.
Overall the Multiplayer mode is a massive let down, I can’t understand why so much as been cut or is missing. It feels rushed and unfinished. Fans of Gear of War 3 multiplayer are going to feel cheated. The Multiplayer DOES NOT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE!
Gears of War Micro Transactions and Season Passes
Gone are the days of buying a videogame and having all the content available to you from day one. Today we live in an age of lets see how much money we can screw out of these hard working and loyal gamers. Unfortunately when you pay your £40 or $60 for Gears Of War Judgment you will also need to cough up an extra 1600 MS Points to get access to the full range of content with the Gears Of War Judgment ‘Season Pass’.
Ok Season Passes are not new within the Gears Of Wars franchise but this time alarm bells did ring. 4 multiplayer maps out of the box is a little low and we are also missing some tried and trusted multiplayer game modes. Have Epic Games, People Can Fly and Microsoft Studios held back content on one of Xbox 360s biggest selling game franchises of all time? To me it looks that way.
The big question I keep getting asked is; Is it any good? Well it depends on how well you know the series and what you think makes Gears of War Gears of War. In short the game is good but short, it feels slightly rushed in parts, the ending sucks, and the new control system takes a little time to get use to.
Part of the reason I set up this website was to be independent. Yes Microsoft did send us a review copy and it would have been a lot easier for us to say “This game is great”, “10/10″, “must buy”, just like some other reviews I have read, but this is not true. People Can Fly under the wing of Epic Games have taken a tried and tested formula, mixed it up and produced a sub par game. I am all for change but Gears Of War Judgment now does not feel like Gears. In my view the best part of Gears Of War Judgment is the FREE download included for the orignal Gears Of War!