Gears of War: Judgment review

by Ben Salter Featured

17 Comments 12 Votes 21356 Views 18/03/2013 Back to Reviews

A fitting end to the Xbox 360's generation.

Gears of War: Judgment Got Right
  • + New mission structure
  • + Tweaked control scheme
  • + Optional Declassify missions
  • + Fun multiplayer
Gears of War: Judgment Got Wrong
  • - Very repetitive
  • - A few glitches
  • - A.I. teammates are sometimes useless

Gears of War was for me, like so many others, the reason I bought an Xbox 360. It looked magnificent, was a weighty exclusive and ushered in many traits of the console third person shooter that became stereotypical of the genre. It’s only appropriate that the first great exclusive many of us played on Xbox 360 will also be the last.

Spilt across two separate campaigns, Judgment first takes us back in time to Emergence Day and the Locust invasion that set the stage for the Gears trilogy 14 years later. Playing as all members of the Kilo Squad -- including Baird and Cole -- Judgment retells their transgressions against direct orders through flashbacks at the squad's tribunal hearing, while the Locust continue to ravage a path of destruction outside.

As bulk of the events are being retold, Judgment splits each chapter into smaller arcade subsections and places a much greater emphasis on replaying. Each section lasts 10 to 15 minutes and can be replayed immediately or later to either improve your star rating or change the course of events. The new star ranking is basic, yet effective, and will have a bearing on how you approach each confrontation. You’ll earn more stars for picking off headshots or killing multiple enemies at once, but you’ll lose part of your score if you go down.

Bests of all, the star system isn’t important. It doesn’t unlock new weapons for the campaign or allow you progress; the entire game can be played without giving it a second thought. Instead, it’s all about bragging rights. You can prove how awesome you are by flaunting your Gears prowess.

The Declassify mission system is like a new icing on the same Gears of War cake.

Your ranking and the events of the exaggerated narrative (but Gears and its giant biceps has never been known for strong acting) are determined by how you approach the “Declassified” mission structure. Each chapter consists of around seven arcade style missions. Each of those can either be played outright, or with a Declassifed modifier.

Turning on Declassifed will first make the upcoming firefight more challenging by introducing extra mortiferous enemies, adding fog to an otherwise clear sky or demanding you adhere to an ambitious time restriction. Aside from its gameplay influence, Declassifying a mission will change the course of events. Baird and co are retelling their side of the story as best they can to their commanding officer, but will choose to leave out some of the vital details if you play without engaging any Declassifed missions. The only way to get the full story is to complete each mission with the added challenge. The Declassify mission system is like a new icing on the same Gears of War cake.

Unpredictability is ripe through the Judgment campaign. The Smart Spawn System tracks your progress and delivers enemies accordingly. Restarting at a checkpoint means you’ll be faced with a different opposition on the second try, and it all comes down to how you’re trying to play. Running in guns blazing is often punished by a barrage of enemies ready to return fire. The average player won’t notice the new spawning system, but that only means it's working perfectly, and ensures you’re always kept on your toes.

Get the Adobe Flash Player to see this video.

On the surface, Judgement looks like yet another Gears, and in many ways it is -- it certainly doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel. Instead, it refines the gameplay to ask even accomplished Gears players to relearn how to ride a bike.

The core mechanics are the same, but say goodbye to switching weapons with the D-Pad. Epic and new co-developer People Can Fly have conformed to using the Y button to roll between two guns, and done away with selecting grenades by making them instantaneous on the left bumper. Being directed towards points of interest has been relocated to the now vacant D-Pad, which also guides you through the arcade-based mission structure.

These seemingly small changes are a direct result of the more intense pacing. There’s rarely a dull moment and the shorter mission structure and more accessible weapons allow for a constant barrage of relentless enemies. There’s little respite in the game itself; instead your momentary break comes in the form of a mission report and cut-scene -- a formula that will be repeated around the next corner.

For a majority of the six hour main campaign, the pacing works a treat. You know what to expect and it offers a break just before you’ve had enough of shooting mutants. However, most of the conventions become severely overused and the side effect of a campaign designed to be replayed for ranking points is that it all starts to blend together. You’re replaying a section to see a tweak in a story that isn’t really important or to earn a better ranking, not because you enjoyed it so much that you absolutely must have another go.

The biggest offender is a rebadged version of Horde Mode making its way into the campaign. On several occasions, you’ll have to fight off two or three waves of enemies (playing on normal) as part of the story, before doing the same thing during the next character’s testimony. Each time you’ll use mostly the same weapons and employ exactly the same tactics -- it becomes Judgment’s way of throwing an incomprehensible number of enemies at you just because it can.

While I enjoyed the campaign, I was also glad when it was over.

The campaign is designed to be played co-operatively with four people, and as is the flavour of the day, will push you into an Xbox Live party immediately, assuming you couldn’t possibly be interested in playing alone. Of course, just like real life, you don’t need friends to have fun, but it’ll give you someone to blame when everything goes horribly wrong.

However, if you're going it alone, beware; the A.I. teammates are next to useless when it counts. They hardly kill anything, are slow to revive you and often stand right where you want to be shooting.

Once you’re done judging Kilo Squad’s war-time behaviour, a second smaller campaign called “Aftermath” returns to the events after Gears of War 3. It offers a dash of closure and some much needed context for the prequel within the timeframe of the trilogy.

While the campaigns becomes a little too familiar, the multiplayer takes Judgment to the next level. Even with limited pre-release access, it’s obvious that the new OverRun mode is a winner, and something I might actually keep playing. OverRun is all of the best bits of Gears multiplayer rolled into one. It plays like a standard team deathmatch with the added mandate of a COG team defending against a Locust team who are trying to open emergence holes. If they do it twice and destroy a generator, they win. If time runs out, victory is bestowed upon the humans. It’s straightforward, simple and loads of fun.

The Final Verdict

Gears of War: Judgment is, simply put, a Gears of War game and a fitting end to the Xbox 360’s generation. It goes back to retell a story that isn’t all that important, but does so by sprucing up the gameplay with a more intense pace and a rankings system that forces you to rethink your strategy in an arcade mission structure. It’s repetitive and arguably the least memorable of the heralded Gears of War series, but with a fun approach and engaging multiplayer, Judgment manages to make the fourth game in a trilogy an essential binding force.

Gears of War: Judgment

Platform: Xbox
Similar to: Gears of War 3
 
Vote for this article Log in with Facebook

Gears of War: Judgment review Comments

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
Tano
+
Kind of wish I played this instead of Ascension :P
makes me glad i picked up God of War instead of this, so i would say the real score is about 6 then

gammaray13 said: makes me glad i picked up God of War instead of this, so i would say the real score is about 6 then


Wut?

renagadez said:

gammaray13 said: makes me glad i picked up God of War instead of this, so i would say the real score is about 6 then


Wut?



+1
My brain imploded with that comment.
Yeah Mate Gonna Be A GREAT Game [Rage]
AWWWWWWWWWW YEAH GETTING THIS GAME TOMMOROW

gammaray13 said: makes me glad i picked up God of War instead of this, so i would say the real score is about 6 then


So salty.

Blob said:

gammaray13 said: makes me glad i picked up God of War instead of this, so i would say the real score is about 6 then


So salty.


Gears of War Judgment is, simply put, a Gears of War game and a fitting end to the Xbox 360’s generation. It goes back to retell a story that isn’t all that important, but does so by sprucing up the gameplay with a more intense pace and a rankings system that forces you to rethink your strategy in an arcade mission structure. It’s repetitive and arguably the least memorable of the heralded Gears of War series -_-
Man, you totally copied that from somewhere.

Kenni said: Man, you totally copied that from somewhere.


yeah i did but i was trying to make a point

gammaray13 said:

Blob said:

gammaray13 said: makes me glad i picked up God of War instead of this, so i would say the real score is about 6 then


So salty.


Gears of War Judgment is, simply put, a Gears of War game and a fitting end to the Xbox 360’s generation. It goes back to retell a story that isn’t all that important, but does so by sprucing up the gameplay with a more intense pace and a rankings system that forces you to rethink your strategy in an arcade mission structure. It’s repetitive and arguably the least memorable of the heralded Gears of War series


Yep, salty.

Blob said:

gammaray13 said:

Blob said:

gammaray13 said: makes me glad i picked up God of War instead of this, so i would say the real score is about 6 then


So salty.


Gears of War Judgment is, simply put, a Gears of War game and a fitting end to the Xbox 360’s generation. It goes back to retell a story that isn’t all that important, but does so by sprucing up the gameplay with a more intense pace and a rankings system that forces you to rethink your strategy in an arcade mission structure. It’s repetitive and arguably the least memorable of the heralded Gears of War series


Yep, salty.


;) you sure are
And god of war ascension isn't the same concept?
Good-bye old mate :'@ till da next console anyways [Derp] we will be together :'@ Brothers Till The End :'@
Picking this one up tomorrow, can't wait. Great review by the way...
This is the first Gears I'm not dying to buy right away. I am really curious about the "Aftermath" campaign though as I was one of the few Gears players to have some interest in the lore of the Gears universe.

Great review Ben.
Installing now.
Anyone want multiplayer add me
Chris EVO IX

Post a comment

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
  • Gears of War: JudgmentGears of War: Judgment Video
  • Gears of War: JudgmentGears of War: Judgment Video
  • Gears of War: JudgmentGears of War: Judgment Video

Recently Read

Featured Xbox 360 Content

GOTY 2014: Best Remastered Game

GOTY 2014: Best Remastered Game

13 hours ago Polls 0 2
Houston News uses NBA 2K screenshot for interview with NBA player

Houston News uses NBA 2K screenshot for interview with NBA player

Tano 9 hours News 4 10
Year In Review: Panned Games We Enjoyed

Year In Review: Panned Games We Enjoyed

Tano 13 hours Articles 4 6
MMGN Game Of The Year 2014 Finals - POLLS NOW OPEN!
Tano 13 hours News 0 5
GTA V will support last-gen for as long as possible

GTA V will support last-gen for as long as possible

Gryllis 3 days News 0 6
Xbox Store Countdown to 2015 sale on now

Xbox Store Countdown to 2015 sale on now

Gryllis 3 days News 2 1
GTA V Online Heists - Why did it take so long?

GTA V Online Heists - Why did it take so long?

Tano 3 days News 0 8
Win a Halo prize pack with MCC, Vanguard + Astro A50

Win a Halo prize pack with MCC, Vanguard + Astro A50

Win on MMGN 4 days News 2 3
Xbox One in 2015: The big exclusives

Xbox One in 2015: The big exclusives

Tano 6 days Articles 10 2

Community Content

Awesome Gaming Stuff Of Tomorrow, Today! Vol. 3

Awesome Gaming Stuff Of Tomorrow, Today! Vol. 3

02/09/2014 Blog 11 0

MMGN Updates

Status
Updating..
Username

KezDaMuss, jackaranda, DarkEnemy commented on Win a Sony Mobile Prize Pack! Including an Xperia Z3, PlayStation 4 and Game Cave

KezDaMuss 2 hours ago
Username

bjsmas, GTADude, Lantean, timmyk commented on Win a Sony Mobile Prize Pack! Including an Xperia Z3, PlayStation 4 and Game Cave

bjsmas 9 hours ago
Username

RaindrixX got Dragon Age: Inquisition, Sniper Elite III, Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition, Dying Light and other 8 games

RaindrixX 13 hours ago
Username

RaindrixX just unlocked the The Collector achievement!

RaindrixX 13 hours ago
Username

commented on Eminem - The Monster (Explicit) ft. Rihanna

William614 15 hours ago
Username

I am getting acquainted my new MMGN Account

William614 15 hours ago
Username

William614 just unlocked the Welcomed achievement!

William614 15 hours ago
Username

vietnhamit is now Level 2!

vietnhamit 1 day ago