Gears of War: Judgment, the long awaited Gears title is finally out much to the relief of eager fans of this popular game. The freshly released prequel to the trilogy is set approximately ten years before the first title, some time almost immediately after Emergence Day, the most pivotal occasion in the Gears of War world.
While most prequels are limited in what they can offer due to the very nature of setting gameplay in the past when the future is completely known and no longer a mystery, Games of War: Judgment cunningly devises an engaging gameplay by concentrating on individual storylines and making the most out of the available plot. Despite some glaring plot holes, Games of War: Judgment shines through by offering intense battle scenes and competitive multiplayer gameplay and challenging declassified mission scenarios.
For the first time in the history of Gears of War, Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago will not be featuring as the principal characters in the game. This is because the events of Judgment are set thirty days after Emergence Day when the Locust Horde surfaces from within the depths of the planet Sera in order to wipe out the human race. In the aftermath of that, the Kilo Squad, led by Lieutenant Damon Baird and including Augustus Cole as well as new additions to the series, Sofia Hendrick and Garron Paduk, is sent on a mission to salvage the city of Halvo Bay.
However, while the battle is in progress, the Kilo Squad is indicted of treason having been accused of stealing experimental COG technology. An ad hoc court is set up bang in the middle of the ongoing battle and the four members of the squad are coerced into describing their individual accounts of the happenings of the previous day. While the game’s setting on planet Sera is the same as before and easily recognizable, the difference in time period lends an air of freshness to it.
Every character has its own unique perspective of the story, therefore making them all individually playable. Hardcore “Gears” fans will notice that the characters of Baird and Cole are a little short of the good humored comradeship that so defined their relationship in the original Gears trilogy. On the other hand, the characters of Paduk and Sofia have superb chemistry and will undoubtedly prove popular among “Gears” fans.
The game has a total of six acts with multiple chapters contained within each of them. Every time a chapter ends, your score flashes on the screen and your level is raised. Multi player customization options get unlocked as your scores advance and levels increase and it is possible to replay chapters to aim for a higher score. An excessive focus on scores is evident in Judgment and results in highly competitive gameplay. But being interrupted every twenty minutes or so by a score screen may not be for everyone as it negatively affects the tempo of the game.
The highlights of the game are undoubtedly its ‘Declassified Missions’. These consist of even more tricky and random challenges that range from simple scenarios where your ammo is slashed down or you are forced to use particular weapons to more grueling situations wherein a dust cloud fogs up your vision while a major battle is in progress or a Hammer Of Dawn satellite is about to annihilate the ground beneath your feet leaving you barely any time to get to your goal.
The game’s storyline also contains an extended two hour long epilogue whose events transpire during the gameplay of Gears of War 3. While this certainly makes for an all round extensive gameplay, the lack of the Declassified Missions option in the epilogue may dampen the excitement slightly.
All in all, Gears of War: Judgment is an action packed game that you will surely have an amazing time playing with up to three of your friends on your Xbox LIVE. Additional multiplayer gaming opportunities, like the OverRun mode in which two teams of five players each can alternately play as either Locusts or COG combatants, are offered for the first time in a “Gears” game and make for an even more captivating gameplay.