Judgement Day is here!

Did you like the Gears of War Trilogy? Now pretend it doesn't take itself too seriously.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

The original Gears of War was a trilogy that followed two main characters, Marcus and Dom, as they saved the world against the Locust invasion of their planet.  Gears of War is a third person shooter with great cover mechanics.  During the first three Gears, you have a squad of 4 people at most times.  That squad consisted of Marcus, Dom, Baird, and Cole. 

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Judgment was developed by a recently acquired studio which made Bulletstorm, People Can Fly.  Judgment takes place before the events of the Gears trilogy.  In the timeline, it takes place around Emergence Day (E-Day).  Emergence Day in the Gears of War timeline is when the Locust laid siege to the planet.  The basis for the games story is Cole and Baird along with two new characters to the series, Sophia and Paddock, are on trial in the midst of war.  They are on trial for what other reasons than war crimes.  The story and combat unfolds as Kilo squad (Baird, Cole, Sophia, and Paddock) retell their accounts of Emergence day. 

Judgment is a clear product of People Can Fly as they’ve added a points and stars system to the tried and true formula of the franchise.  Before each encounter with enemies in the game, there’s an area in which you can load up on ammo, guns, and accept or decline the Declassified version of the story/mission.  The new addition to Gears is what’s called “Declassified” missions.  They are essentially modifiers for the combat scenarios.  For example, without selecting the declassified option you would fight in a tight space as expected.  With the declassified activated the same mission (and lack of space) now has a “fog of war” added to it.  The fog makes it impossible to see any more than a few feet in from of you.  Just a handful of examples would be using only shotguns, enemies use more aggressive tactics, or even just a ton more enemies to fight, to name a few. 


The emphasis on replaying the campaign is done very well.  You are able to go back to specific fights in the campaign and attempt to do better.  The way “better” is judged (pun intended) in the game is by a star rating system.  You earn these stars by stylish kills, headshots, and executions.  Every time a teammate is downed you lose some of those points.  Whenever you choose to accept a declassified mission, the star meter fills up quicker.  Another thing done well is the “Dynamic Spawn System” implemented here.  Every time you go back or retry a level, the DSS gives you different enemy types with different behaviors each time.  This helps trying to get 3 stars in missions not seem so tedious and repetitive.  Some additional weapons and grenade types have been added too.  My favorite is a gun called the Booska, which shoots explosive grenades.  There are a few more weapons, but nothing that’s game changing.  What I found to really impact the flow of the game was the addition of healing grenades, and grenades that highlight enemies in the given radius.


For many people Gears of War is appreciated solely for its multiplayer.  Gears of War really helps popularize Horde mode: you stay alive through various waves of enemies with your co-op partners.  There is no formal “horde” mode.  Instead Judgment created a “Survival Mode,” which puts you in the shoes of the humans defending an objective from the enemies using barricades and turrets, for 10 waves.  The next addition is called “Overrun”.  Overrun is “Survival” mode, except now both humans and locust are controlled by humans, not AI.   If you played the last Gears of War game (GoW3), it’s a mix of “Beast mode” and “Horde”.  The rest of the multiplayer suite are your typical free-for-all (which is actually new to the franchise), team deathmatch, and domination.  With the addition of upcoming DLC, the options for more traditional game types for the Gears franchise, like execution matches and annex, will be coming at an additional cost.

Closing Thoughts

Overall I feel as though People Can Fly did a great job given the parameters for a Gears game.  It’s something hard to do, you can’t make too many dramatic changes to a beloved franchise, and as a developer you don’t want to just make a re-skin of a product.  I think People Can Fly did some basic changes with weapon swapping (only two weapons that swap with the Y button), grenades (previously you had to equip them, now just use the LB), and the necessity of cover (I found myself running and gunning more than camping behind cover) to streamline and freshen up the series.

I’m not too sure non-Gears enthusiast will appreciate or even enjoy Judgements refinements, story, and multiplayer as much as someone who’s followed the series to the end.  I do think if you enjoy the Gears franchise this is a great, fun game to play through with your buddies.  The story is a means for the replayable missions, which is a nice change.  Again the multiplayer adds some new and fun multiplayer elements, but excludes some modes you’ve grown to love over the years. I’d recommend this game but at a slightly lower price, not a full $60 value (I’m thinking around $40-$50).

Judgement Day is here!
Did you like the Gears of War Trilogy? Now pretend it doesn't take itself too seriously.

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I'm a stay at home dad who writes about video games. I enjoy my family, video games, and music.