Gears of War Judgment, published by Microsoft, is a prequel to the first Gears of War game. It takes place 15 years before the first game, at the start of the Locust invasion. The game starts with you and your squad being on trial for treason and the locust killing action kicks off from there. This is the first Gears game that does not follow a Marcus storyline, rather Baird and Cole. This Gears also introduces two new characters Sophia and Paduk. As you progress through the campaign you get to take turns playing as all four of these characters as the campaign is played as a series of flashbacks, recreating the events leading up to what happened in the beginning of the game.
This series of flashbacks, and playing as four different characters is what makes the campaign somewhat disjointed. That along with the scoring and rating system that you get at the end of each mission. When you start a mission, you pick what star difficulty you want to proceed with and as you play, you try to get a high enough score and enough stars to pass. This makes it seem like more of an arcade style shooter where you are trying to get a certain score rather than trekking through the story. However one thing that was a nice addition to the campaign was the Declassify challenge that was added in every mission. What that does is give you an extra challenge, from being limited to a certain weapon, to having limited visibility and it definitely adds a bit more to each mission. But the disappointing thing about the campaign is how short it is. It should take you around 5 hours, maybe a little more to complete. And the stars you are earning in each section are to unlock a bonus campaign, Aftermath. Although this is a nice addition, it just doesn’t add enough to the campaign and was a bit lackluster and wasn’t really worth it.
Gears of War Judgment has three game modes, Campaign of course, Survival and Versus. Survival mode pits your squat against waves of AI controlled Locust as you try and protect various E-Hole covers. What I like about this game is the different soldier classes you can be. You can pick from Engineer, Soldier, Scout, and Medic. Each class has different skill set and attribute that they bring to the table, they can give out ammo, build turrets or throw grenades to scout out where Locust are, or heal your teammates. This really forces you to work together to fend off the Locust. This mode is a nice addition however it replaces Horde mode and just doesn’t fill its shoes.
Versus mode is an online multiplayer mode that contains four different ways to play as well. There is Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Overrun. The first three games are pretty standard, as they are in any real shooter game. But they are still fun and fast paced. However Overrun is the stand out here, and really the stand out of the game. Overrun is the exact same concept of Survival mode, however the Locust are played by human players. After your turn being the COG members is over then you switch and can be the Locust. There are a bunch of different classes available from The Ticker which is a cute little bug like Locust that can dash really quickly and explode on demand. The Wretch can jump over defenses and scream to stun your opponent. The Grenadier, well this one is a bit self-explanatory, as he well, throws grenades. The Kantus is the Locust medic that can heal fellow teammates. Then there is a Bloodmount, which can carry the Grenadier and Kantus into battle. And finally the Corpser, Serapede, and the Mauler are the heavy classes that can cause the most havoc and inflict the most damage to the enemy team. This game mode is definitely my favorite, it plays like the versus modes from the Left 4 Dead games, and is just a lot of fun and offers a different play style from the regular multiplayer modes.
Overall, this is a Gears of War game so there is a lot of fun to be had. However Judgment feels like it is a really expensive DLC. With the campaign being so short and the online modes being fun but somewhat limited, it is hard to fork out 60 dollars for the full retail price. If you played the other three Gears games then you will probably get the game anyway, and it may leave you a bit disappointed since it is not nearly as expansive as the other games. But if you are looking to get into the series, I would maybe think about picking up one of the other games and maybe pass on this one until the price drops, or at least try to rent it first.
Final Score: 3.5/5