OXCGN’s Gears of War: Judgment Review
Hordeless, but still distinctly Gears
by Kent Sobey
© 2013 Kent Sobey
The first thing I noticed when I put Gears of War Judgment in was that lack of horde mode. This meant two things for me – firstly, the game was going to have to be that much better to impress me, and secondly, I was delayed starting the campaign by a few minutes because I had to wait for the tears to dry so I could see again.
Once the initial shock had passed though, I decided that I would give the game a fair chance, with or without my favourite part of its predecessor. I started with the campaign.
Put on the kilos- squad!
The campaign is split up into two parts, the first part, called Judgment, takes place just after emergence day. Kilo squad, which includes a young Damon Baird and Augustus Cole (who you might remember, (or rather try and forget- ED)) and two new characters, Garron Paduk and Sofia Hendrick, are on trial for an as yet unknown crime.
As the story continues, you go through flashbacks explaining exactly what it is the four of them did to get them there. You get a chance to play as each of them in their very own chapter, which gives you a very nice perspective of the way they see things (they narrate for you as you move along).
I won’t ruin the story for you here, but I will say that it’s been very well crafted, despite being a little short. The back stories on Baird and Cole are great to see and it really adds depth to characters that for the most part so far have been on the side-lines.
Once you’re done with the Judgment campaign, you can move onto Aftermath, which takes place during the events on Gears of War 3. Remember when Marcus asked Cole and Baird to go and get reinforcements? Well, that’s what you get to play.
You run into Paduk again and head off on your mission. It’s a great addition to the game, but I can’t help but feel that it really should have been part of Gears of War 3. Nonetheless, I loved it and I’m glad it got a place somewhere.
The COG are not the only ones who got a bit of an upgrade with this iteration; the addition of a few new enemies will also keep you on your toes. In particular, the Rager is fantastic – shoot him a few times and you’ll find out why.
He starts out as a skinny guy with a gun, but when he gets angry he throws his gun to the floor, hulks out in a spiky and red fashion, and runs at you like he’s going to rip your head off. Give him half the chance and he will too.
Guns, guns guns
There are also a few new weapons which change it up a bit. A new sniper rifle that shoots a little faster but does slightly less damage stands out, along with the breechshot, which is basically a sniper rifle without a scope. It sounds lame, but trust me, you’ll be using it every chance you get.
That’s not all though, there’s plenty new weaponry to keep you entertained.
The control scheme has change slightly too. Instead of using the directional arrows to change weapon, you’ll now press ‘Y’. At first I didn’t like the change because it didn’t feel like Gears anymore, but once I got used to it I have to say that it is a logical change and I don’t ever want to go back.
Grenades are also much easier to throw, using just the left bumper button. Both changes really tighten things up – especially in multiplayer. The sad down side of all this though is that you only get to carry two weapons (and your grenades of course).
There are now four modes in multiplayer: Free-for-all, Team Deathmatch, Overrun and domination. All of the multiplayer is class based. Again at first I was weary of this but I was proven wrong once again. This new class based system is brilliant and it really makes for team play – which is so lacking is most online multiplayer games these days.
FFA and Team Deathmatch are pretty much what you would expect, but there is no longer the need to execute people; when you shoot them, they die. I much prefer this because it means I can actually get a kill once in a while. I am sure the hard core players won’t like it though because they’ll probably die more often.
Overrun puts one locust team up against the COG who are defending Emergence hole covers. The horde has to damage the cover until it is completely destroyed, at which point they move onto the next hole cover.
If they get both e-hole covers then they have to destroy a generator, at which point they would win the round. You get to select your monster much like you did in ‘Beast Mode’ in GoW 3.
Once you’ve done the attacking, you swap sides and you get to defend against the horde. There’s only one way to describe this mode, Amazing. I love it, and although it doesn’t completely make up for not having horde mode in the game, it does come close.
Domination, it much like domination in Call of Duty. There are three rings of light scattered around the map, and you have to capture them to get points. When one team gets to the magic number, they win. It’s simple, and fun. A good addition.
They have also added a mode called ‘Survival’ which is probably intended as the replacement for ‘Horde’. This is the one part of the game I didn’t like. It is basically overrun, but with AI players on the other team. Completely pointless if you ask me.
Judgement on Judgment
Having said that, the game does fit well into the Gears of War family and I don’t feel like they are simply trying to draw blood from a stone like some others might think.
For any fan of Gears this is a terrific addition to the collection.
For any new comers, it’s the perfect introduction. There will be few games in 2013 that are as good as this one.