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Gears of War: Judgment Review

Gears of War: Judgment Review

Gears of War has been a mammoth franchise for both Epic Games and Microsoft, with three major iterations appearing so far this generation. With Gears of War: Judgment being the forth, some might call that a bit of over-saturation, but if it's any kind of saving grace, at least this latest one doesn't pretend to be a main series title. Instead, it focuses on the story of Baird and looks to build upon the stylised campaigns of old while offering a different take when it comes to the multiplayer.

Setting itself up as the first prequel in the franchise, Gears of War: Judgment places Damon Baird as the main character. He's joined by the famed Cole Train and two new characters (Sofia Hendrik and Garron Paduk), as they face a tribunal for their actions in the war against the Locust. Because of this, the campaign places you in control of the four characters as each of them recants their actions that led to them using an unsanctioned Lightmass bomb against the devilish Locust known as Karn.

It's a novel concept that's been used before, but it does allow for a narrative to take place without the use of too many cutscenes. The inclusion of "declassified" missions enhances this too, as these help to add an little bit of extra narrative to the different sections throughout the campaign.

As we've come to expect from the Gears of War franchise though, the story isn't too deep, and it's also on the short side. Most people will be able to get through it in around 5-6 hours without breaking too much of a sweat, and it doesn't stop being a disappointment no matter how many games it happens in. Still, with the structure used in Judgment, it does feel a little bit more paced.

Very little has changed when it comes to the gameplay of Judgment. If anything, things have been simplified to make the experience more streamlined. For example, you no longer have to use the d-pad to select different weapons, grenades and side-arms. Now, you can only hold two weapons total and a complementary smattering of grenades.

Aside from that, Judgment is your classic Gears of War game. There's a strong emphasis on cover, executions and teamwork and that all works fine. After all, if it isn't broken, why fix it? But that's exactly what was said about Gears of War 3. Very little has been done to try and improve any aspect of the gameplay and it's not something that should continue to be commended.

This also means that the four-person team system that was introduced in Gears of War 3 remains, warts and all. Yes, the game is designed to be played with three other humans to create the ultimate killing machine, but if you're stuck playing with the AI it can be a little bit annoying. As with Gears of War 3, if you're downed, the AI just doesn't seem to cut it.

As soon as you enter the downed state, one of the AI seems to be designated as the "reviver" and how they're picked it doesn't always make much sense. Even if there's a team mate who's closer, they will often just ignore you entirely. You also have to try and engineer yourself infront of the designated reviver, as they don't seem to be capable of turning around. This was perhaps a nit-pick in Gears of War 3, but it hasn't been fixed and there's no real explanation as to why, aside from laziness.

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