Gears of War: Judgment - Xbox 360

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Viewed: 3D Third-person, over the shoulder Genre:
Shoot 'Em Up
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: People Can Fly Soft. Co.: Epic Games
Publishers: Microsoft Game Studios (GB)
Released: 22 Mar 2013 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 18+

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Summary

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the approach Epic is taking with Gears of War Judgment, a game it is developing in conjunction with Bulletstorm creators People Can Fly to bookend the popular sci-fi shooter.

Mechanics feel essentially the same as Gears of War 3, with level pacing and multiplayer premises almost identical to its predecessors. The real focus is on how the story of Baird, Cole and the Kilo Squad story is told. Produced with input from the fans, the game presents a story surrounding Emergence Day, the moment where the humans of Sera were first attacked by the Locust.

The result is a darker Gears title, closer to the 2006 original than the colourful and at-times humourous Gears of War 3. It all begins in a courtroom, with Baird and his Kilo Squad facing a jury for various failures during the E-Day tragedy. To defend himself, Baird must submit a testimony of exactly what happened to his crew while Sera was in chaos.

Unlike past games in the series, Judgment’s campaign mode is arranged slightly differently. Instead of a series of chapters seamlessly segueing into one another to form a long stage, each of these chapters have been separated into bite-size levels, largely focusing on one particular battle or event. This gives the impression that each section of the Kilo Squad’s testimony is being explained to - and scrutinised by - the jury in great detail.

The AI has been tweaked, and Epic and People Can Fly have implemented a system which dynamically spawns enemies in response to the way you play. If you rush into a battle area guns blazing, then the first wave might appear beside you. If you choose to hold back, the next wave could spawn targets behind you.

Another new feature in the campaign is called Declassify. These are remixed stages that can be opted-in before you get stuck into a level. They’ll appear as red COG graffiti on the wall at the start of the stage, and accepting it will allow Kilo Squad to divulge additional information to the jury that might better help its case.

Choosing to accept (or not accept) the Declassify missions will alter the story in some way. Both the beginning and the end - Judgment is more than just a prequel story to the Gears of War trilogy. Each stage has three stars that are awarded as you rack up a highscore. If you collect all 40 stars in the campaign, you get to unlock an additional story that takes place after Gears of War 3.

As before, you can engage in co-operative modes during the campaign, but the dedicated multiplayer mode has been revamped slightly as well, allowing for class-based gameplay. Teams can choose to play as a Medic, Soldier, Mechanic, Scout or Sentry, each with different loadouts and perks.

There's also a brand new multiplayer game to add to the roster - Survival. This is a bit like Horde mode, with a twist: rather than fighting to stay alive, you’re fighting to defend various objectives from being destroyed.

Judgment doesn't set out to be revolutionary, but if you're a fan of the Gears series there's plenty to keep you going here.

Artwork

Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360) Artwork

Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360) Artwork

Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360) Artwork