Gears of War Judgment: A Daring New Prequel to the Much Loved Franchise
Gears of War Judgment takes the gameplay formula in bold new directions. Whether you are blasting through the new declassified missions with a buddy, destroying and defending fortifications in the awesome new overrun mode, or tearing your enemies to shreds in the near perfectly balanced multiplayer, there is a ton of fun to be had in judgment.
Being a prequel to the original trilogy (don't worry its no phantom menace) the story takes place 15 years before the events of the original game. The game opens up with kilo squad, which consists of old favorites Baird and Cole as well as 2 new members, Sofia and Paduk, being put on trial for an unknown crime.
The rest of the story is told through flashbacks as each character reveals their testimony. The story had a ton of potential, but ultimately, it was the biggest disappointment in Judgment. The main objective is to kill a big bad locust named Karn with a nuke. Aside from being a relatively straightforward plot, there are some inconsistencies with the franchise lore which, if your a hardcore fan like me, will upset you. Fortunately, the solid gameplay makes up for the lack of a good story. For the most part, the action is much the same as it was in Gears of War 3 with a few new weapons and features.
The great thing however, is the new declassified missions. These are optional challenges at the start of each section that further increase the difficulty and add significant replay value to the game. These challenges range from simply beating the level in a set amount of time to more varied challenges like fighting huge waves of enemies with no ammo or fighting with limited vision. At the end of each section, you are scored based on how much ass you kick. The higher your score, the more bonuses you'll unlock like multiplayer characters and achievements.
While the campaign offers a fun and challenging gameplay experience, the multiplayer is the guts of Judgment. There are several gameplay tweaks that you wouldn't expect in a Gears multiplayer, but when you get used to them, you will realize that they balance things out and contribute to the much faster pace of Judgment.
For example: the down but not out feature is gone in versus mode. This may seem shocking at first, but not having to worry about somebody stealing your kill or chasing the crawling victim around the map to get your kill is a significant improvement.
New Load Out System
Also new to this game is the new load out system. Now you choose one weapon and a grenade type to carry into battle. Having one weapon really balances things, as you will no longer have people who are great at both long and short range combat, you will have to pick one and adapt to it.
Not having to fight over grenade pickups is also a welcome addition, and you can now stick the grenades to your opponent simply by throwing it on him. This is a fantastic addition and grenades became my secondary source of kills other than my trusty Gnasher shotgun. The game features 3 new modes, free for all, domination, and overrun. free for all goes along nicely with the new faster pace of the game, and domination is also a welcome addition.
New Game Modes
Overrun is a standout mode that should significantly extend the life of the game with its addictive gameplay. You take turns playing as the COG or Locust. The humans must work together to repair barriers and defend their stations from locusts and the locusts must destroy said defenses. This is basically horde mode versus beast mode and it is perhaps the most balanced game mode ever created.
No Class Feels Overpowered
Yet there are significant advantages and disadvantages to each. For example: the wretch can jump over barriers and move quickly through defenses but will die quickly due to his low health, or the huge mauler who can deal huge damage but can only move very slowly and is easily flanked. Things are just as balanced for the human side too, as the sniper can climb tall ledges, the engineers can repair fortifications, the soldier can give out ammo, and the medic can heal people.
Lack of Maps
The only real downside to the games multiplayer is the lack of maps. However, the maps are much larger and of a higher quality than in previous Gears games, so perhaps the small number was worth it.
While the story is a huge missed opportunity and their aren't that many maps, the challenging and highly replayable campaign and the well balanced multiplayer add up to yet another solid Gears of War game. I haven't had this much fun online since Halo 3.