Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360) Review

By Josh Di Falco 19.03.2018

Review for Gears of War: Judgment on Xbox 360

Gears of War: Judgment attempts to deliver more of the same style of gameplay as its predecessor, Gears of War 3 but shifting the focus onto the other two characters of the quartet from the main franchise. Damon Baird and Augustus Cole are members of Kilo Squad, along with Garron Parduk and young cadet, Sofia Hendrick. The main campaign is a prequel to the first game in the mainline series, as Kilo Squad is on trial for disobeying the orders of Colonel Ezra Loomis. Each of the four squad members gives their testimony of the events leading up to the trial, as the play out in each of the main campaign's chapters. Featuring four-player co-op, as well as control over each of the squad members in their subsequent chapters, this is Epic Games and People Can Fly's joint venture at a more refined Gears of War title.

The main campaign is broken down into chapters, where each member of the four-person Kilo Squad gets a chance to recount the events leading up to the present-day setting of the trial. Beginning with Damon Baird, this sequence of events is a prequel to Gears of War. There is no Marcus Fenix or Domenic Santiago in this adventure, as Damon Baird is the Lieutenant of Kilo Squad, as they are sent on a mission to Halvo Bay to check up on a convoy. It is there that they encounter the Locust General Karn and his scorpion-like mount, Shibboleth, who wreaks all sorts of havoc on the humans.

The campaign then follows through the motions of Kilo Squad's quest to bring the downfall of the Locust General, as they believe this to be a pivotal part in ending this Locust threat. With overhead narrations being conducted by the characters in the present, the story does suffer from what a lot of prequels have difficulty overcoming. Knowing that two of these four characters go on to play a role in the mainline franchise detracts from the fear of any harm coming to them in this story and, as such, erases any emotion from what comes about.

Screenshot for Gears of War: Judgment on Xbox 360

Unlike the previous titles, which had more of an open-world setting in terms of level design, Judgment instead breaks down the chapters into a series of arenas, linked together by cut-scenes. Each battle arena features a three-star metre that fills up depending on Kilo Squad's killing efficiency, how many headshots they perform, executions, as well as continuous kills without getting downed. This three-star system adds a new element to just simply clearing the stage. Being efficient, while relying on teamwork to avoid getting downed and executing plenty of close-range executions, is key to mastering these stages.

In addition, the game relies on the character recounts to also add "Declassified" objectives to each stage. Signalled by the red skull that is mainly seen at the beginning, these are simply extra objectives that are optional to take on. These make the stages a lot tougher, but they reward by filling up the three-star metre quicker. Linking this through with the narrative, taking on these optional objectives also changes the narration that is given by the characters of Kilo Squad, which is an interesting attempt at allowing for a degree of a player-controlled story.

Screenshot for Gears of War: Judgment on Xbox 360

In addition to the main campaign, reaching 40 stars will unlock a smaller campaign titled "Aftermath," which shifts the events to the Gears of War 3 setting. Taking place in-between acts three and four, it begins when Marcus Fenix tells Baird and Cole to get reinforcements for their departure into Azura. Then Baird, Cole, and Carmine go on their merry way back to Halvo Bay to seek out these reinforcements and find aid. This campaign is a six-stage sequence and acts as an epilogue of sorts to Judgment, closing off the story from the main campaign for good.

A new feature to the main campaigns is the "base-defence" sections. Some stages require certain bases to be defended from the oncoming Locusts, with a cool-down period in-between waves. These allow for weapon reloads, while environmental barriers assist in the defence, and weapon turrets can be set up in strategic locations. These battles are quite fun to do, and it rarely seems to get overly difficult to accomplish.

Screenshot for Gears of War: Judgment on Xbox 360

Up to four players can experience the campaign in a joint online co-op session. While it was a handy feature back in the game's infancy, this mode, as well as the other online modes, is most of the time inactive now. While some online communities are probably still functioning at set times, finding online games on the fly is a challenging task due to the lack of players.

Fortunately, online matches can be filled with bots, which means that these modes don't go entirely to waste. While they can never be the same replacement for real opponents, it is at least better than nothing. Survival mode is as hectic as ever, while also quite difficult. It is practically a base-defence across three stages. Failing a stage sees the mode proceed to the next stage, while failing all three brings about an end to the mode. Team Deathmatch, Domination, Execution, Master-at-Arms, and Breakthrough return, with OverRun and Free-for-All joining the online modes.

Screenshot for Gears of War: Judgment on Xbox 360

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

While mechanically the game plays the same as Gears of War 3 does, it is the lack of online players that brings down the experience that could have otherwise been had from this. Now, Gears of War: Judgment is simply only worth checking out for the two featured campaigns, which tells a generic story that is used as an excuse to further launch Locust genocide. While the story lacks a real sense of emotion that the previous entry brought a lot of, it leaves the story as an endless runner through one arena-shooter to the next. The same weapons return, while some new ones don't make much of a dent in forming new strategies, but the "Declassified" objectives and the three-star system bring a new sense of urgency to completing each stage by heightening the stakes and tension.

Developer

Epic Games

Publisher

Microsoft Game Studios

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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