Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: People Can Fly/Epic Games
Release Date: 3/19/2013
Available Exclusively On
Gears of War is the Xbox 360’s best series and one of the best of this generation. It introduced cinematic gameplay in a gritty post-apocalyptic world with revolutionary gunplay and cover system. Judgment proves that all series run out of steam. It’s the worst Gears game, but not terrible. People Can Fly (of Painkiller fame) took the driver’s seat thanks to their successful collaboration with Epic during the development of Bulletstorm. Judgment isn’t anything like the previous games in a bad way. It’s dragged down by balance issues, linearity, and a poor story.
Let’s start with the story. It takes place years before Delta Squad was formed and Baird was a Lieutenant. He’s accompanied by UIR Paduk, Sofia Hendrick, and Augustus Cole. They are arrested and are being held in a trial in the middle of a battlefield by Colonel Loomis. You play their flashbacks as testimonies. Honestly, the story never goes anywhere and there’s nothing gripping about it. You just play as each character in short 30-45 minute chapters. Once you catch up to the present moment you play one more chapter and that’s it. Nothing interesting at all. Even the bonus chapter called Aftermath is pretty lame. It takes place after Gears of War 3, but all you’re doing is finding a boat to get out to sea. There’s nothing revealing about the overall story.
Challenge and pacing take a back seat as well. Judgment is all about the kill count and tactical combat takes a back seat. All the enemy’s health has been dialed back a lot so you can run around pumping them with lead. It got so bad that 5-6 enemies will pile up on you or an ally. This would never happen in previous Gears games. I honestly rarely used cover and just went around blasting enemies with the Gnasher. The game is broken up into sections with score totals at the end. The only awesome thing about Judgement that impressed me was the Declassified missions. These are giant red gear logos on the wall at the beginning of each section that makes the game a bit more challenging. Ranging from time limits to certain weapons, more enemies, more defenses, etc. These also increase your star rating which is used to unlock items and achievements.
Halfway through the game, it starts getting extremely repetitive. I honestly almost hated the game, but the action itself kept me hooked because it was faster-paced than previous games and a bit more exciting. There really isn’t much new added to this game either. There’s one new enemy that acts as a mini Berserker. Once you shoot it will grow bigger and only headshots will kill it. There are a few new weapons, but they are UIR weapons. The Booshka is a grenade launcher, the Markza is a sniper rifle with a fast firing rate. There’s also another rifle that is nearly as deadly as a Longshot but fires 4 rounds before a reload. I wanted more content, honestly, even the levels were generic and boring. It’s the same hallways and battlefields over and over. The overall game is just really disappointing.
Once you finish the campaign there’s really no reason to go back unless you really want all the stars and find the hidden COG tags, or to play co-op. The multiplayer is probably the best out of all the Gears games but is lacking content. There aren’t many maps, and Horde mode is absent, but there’s a substitute mode called Survival and Overrun. Survival pits a Gears team against AI-controlled Locust, and Overrun lets players control the Locusts. This mode is intense and another small step in the evolution of the Gears multiplayer suite. The classic modes are back and feel as solid as ever, but the lack of maps may bore players quicker than previous games.
Overall, Judgement is a huge disappointment. The campaign is generic, short, and almost boring, the tactical side of Gears is taken away for running and gunning. Multiplayer suffers from a lack of maps, but at least there’s a lot of customization stuff to unlock for your characters. You now get rewarded for all those kills and ribbons you earn in the form of Prizeboxes. The graphics look great and push the 360 to its limits, but the console is seriously aged and it shows. Judgment is a fun weekend rental or bargain purchase, at this point Gears of War, needs a reboot to keep from going under.