Judgement is the next installment of the Gears of War series. Unlike the previous three, this one is quite different due to how the story unravels, and how you take control of Baird as your lieutenant. Doe judgement rise to be the perfect installment to the gears series, or does it fall to the depths where the Locust should stay?
At first glance Judgement may seem like just another Gears game which has you shooting your way through large hordes of Locust as you try to reach a set goal. You may be partly right, but there are new elements to the gameplay, and how the story progresses. This isn’t your typical cover shooter this time around, but it does introduce some interesting elements which make this title slightly more interesting than the last.
You take control of Kilo Squad who’s under the control Lieutenant Baird. You’ve been arrested for your actions out in the field and are facing a military tribunal. From here you must explain what happened and play out your actions through a series of flashbacks which lead up to the current events.
From here you can tailor the story slightly through declassified challenges. You will experience stories from each squad member, past to present which lead up to where you are currently and how the rest of the story plays out. People Can Fly have taken the typical Gears story and turned it upside down, introduced new elements and tried to add something new and different to the series.
As you would expect for a Gears of War title, the music, voice acting and set pieces all blend together very well. There are new characters with new dialog, which all complement each other. Even though this game is more of a spin-off with new ideas, every character hold their own even though there are choice moments which may seem out-of-place.
The music is also just what you would expect. It’s high quality orchestral drones with fast paced action music thrown in when needed. The mix between these two genres of music may seem a little strange, but it has always worked well for the series, and Judgement is no exception. Your ears won’t be disappointing with this titles assault of audio.
The gears games have always had rather outstanding visuals, which Judgement continues. There are plenty of moments where you may want to stop and admire the world that you’re exploring. The lighting, environments and set pieces are outstanding. The series has always had the general, go big, or go home attitude when it comes to the series, so it’s good to see that People Can Fly have continued the same design styles but taken it a step further.
Unlike previous games, there are new elements in the world with lighting, as well as other hazards and visuals which add to the experience. In several areas of the game you will be thrown into battle where you may have chosen to use the declassified challenges. Doing so changes the world, how you play and can either make the game hard. Or even harder depending on if it obscures your view with fog, smoke and fuzziness from damage.
You may see the same old visuals from previous games in certain areas, but the world design still feels fresh and new while bouncing from cover-to-cover.
The games overall performance runs extremely well, it’s very rare to see any slow loading textures from the unreal engine, or areas of the game where your thrown in with frame rate issues. There are a few odd textures which look a little off or blurry, but the game looks stunning.
You’re first introduced to Kilo squad through a short cut-scene which has your team under arrest and facing a military tribunal for your actions in the field. From here on you’re taken through different points of view from Kilo squad which explains your actions and what each squad member recalls from past to present. This is a rather twist and turn based story arc as you hear from each member of Kilo up until the current events of your tribunal.
Unlike previous installments, the story is slightly less “epic” than the previous games in the series, but it still does a fairly good job at drawing you into what’s going on and why you made the decisions you did. With the story progression you also have declassified challenges, these are optional, but completing them will alter the story and how you progress slightly.
Each character has their own charm and way of dealing with the situations, so you can expect to hear something a little different from each storyline. Just don’t expect to be blown away with the story this time around.
The gameplay hasn’t changed much over the years with this series, but People Can Fly have introduced a new scoring system in the form of stars. These stars give you a new challenge to work towards for your campaign playthrough which also level you up. Just like arcade mode from Gears of War 3, Judgement has introduced the scoring system to this title, but instead it’s part of the game’s campaign. Depending on difficulty, and how well you play, you will earn up to three stars per segment you complete. Earning more stars earns you rewards and also unlocks an alternative campaign from Gears of War 3. This is an interesting concept which can be made harder by playing the declassified missions. These missions are objectives which you can activate during your campaign playthrough. They offer extra insight to the story to what really happened, as well as changing up the gameplay to make it harder with restrictions.
These new elements will change the way you play, so hiding in cover with your lancer or around corners with your gnasher are a thing of the past if you activate these challenges. You may be faced with harsh wind, fog or have your weapons restricted. You will also run into section where they’re made harder by enemies having power weapons, or extra enemies bombarding you. Going from the standard cover and shoot style to mayhem is a nice change if you’re looking for something different in the gameplay. If not, you can ignore the declassified missions all together and just play your standard gears of war.
Aside from the campaign having some additions, there are also quite a few changes to multiplayer. Unlike previous installments, a few game modes are missing, and a few new ones have been set in their place. Overrun and Free-For-All are two new additions, which don’t share the same characteristics are previous modes. These modes provide you with some interesting alternatives, but the game lacks the meat of the previous multiplayer experiences with only 8 maps being shared between the modes.
There’s a lot to experience with Judgement, it has a well crafted experience, but there’s a lot of elements that return from the previous title such as badges, medals and various weapons. With a lot of old elements returning some players may feel like they’re playing a huge add-on instead of a new entry in the series.
Gears of War: Judgement adds to the series in a rather interesting way. It adds a new chapter to the series which also opens up new alleys for storytelling and gemplay styles. People Can Fly brought you Bulletstorm, an action packed score and point based game system which pushed you to play harder and more creatively. They’ve managed to work their magic with Judgement and bring you the same sort of system without ruining the game experience of the Gears series.
I’ve been following this series for quite some time, and Judgement added some new gameplay elements which has brought faith back to me with this series. It may not be the biggest blockbuster hit of all time, but the game is certainly fun and worth the experience even though it’s short.