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Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360)

72
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.3
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Pixelspeech (955)
Written on  :  Jun 11, 2013
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Summary

Innocent, for now.

The Good

The game cleverly implements narrative through the additional challenges and remarks of Kilo Squad.

Two new characters added to the roster.

Same quality of gameplay we've come to expect from this series.

The Bad

Missions are very short and not particularly memorable; the Aftermath campaign also feels like a pointless inclusion.

I preferred the old Horde mode.

Area-design is very poor.

The Bottom Line

Gears of War games are generally considered to be the most difficult to review, since most entries are functional cover-based shooting games with no stand-out features or obvious flaws. Judgement, in many ways, continues this proud tradition for the most part, but now that the quirky developers from People Can Fly joined the team, there are finally some shimmers of actual creativity to be found in the game, some of which I'll be praising and others I'll be pounding into the ground.

The title "Judgement" is not just a conventional video game title meant to break up the tedium of numerical sequels, as the game is actually about a court session in which the protagonists are questioned. The missions you play are actually the four members of Kilo Squad explaining, in great detail, how the events that led to their imprisonment really happened. It doesn't sound like a remarkably interesting story, but the writers did some really clever things with it, such as optional challenges that will make the story more heroic.

As is to be expected from this series, the characters, dialogue and overally story aren't really that noteworthy. You'll still spend 8 to 9 hours between marines shouting every line of dialogue and exchanging sarcastic banter, but after all these years it has started to feel pretty generic. For the first time, though, the lead-singer of this screaming orchestra is notably absent and instead the squad is led by engineer Baird. Cole is also present, but we also get two new marines: Paduk, a marine from a Russian faction, and girl, who is a bit boring and generic.

It's a bit of a shame that the levels are very short; most of the missions take between 3 and 10 minutes tops before they move on to the next locale. The environments are also very dull and leave you with very little room to explore; the game also has a curious habit of putting a lot of work into designing rooms that contain nothing for the player to interact with.

The set-pieces are pretty nice, though, and especially a mission which was pretty much a futuristic reenactment of D-Day was fun. A lot of them, however, do end being very sub-par, such as the many times you'll have to fight in a dark or dusty area, or the ones in which you must protect the bot from enemies for a set amount of time. The entirety of the "Aftermath" campaign also feels very pointless, as it is completely separated from the whole trial and instead focuses on telling a side-story based on the events of Gears of War 3.

Gameplay has remained practically unchanged and veterans of the series will not see many surprises here. By tapping the A-button you stick your character to the closest cover he or she can find and you can then pop out and shoot at enemies who are also in cover. The winners are usually the people that still have a head after a minute. It all works pretty well, which is unsurprising, since the developers have been perfecting these mechanics for years already.

There is also a large roster of enemies to fight and one feature I liked was that each set-piece in the campaign would randomly decide what combination of foes would attack the player. I only found one type to be really obnoxious, which was the guy that would get enraged when shot and starts to charge you relentlessly. Aside from that bastard, the enemies have never being as varied or enjoyable.

The new Invasion mode is not really enjoyable, though, as it is pretty much the old horde mode, but with an escort quest attached to it; an escort that can't move or defend itself, since the escort is a generator. Endless waves of enemies are fun to fight in a standard horde mode, but not so much when the corpsers show up and dig underneath all your defenses, straight to your generator. It genuinely feels unfair when you are racking up kills like a pro, but suddenly bloodmounts and corpsers launch a cooperative attack and instant-kill your last generator before you even realize they have spawned.

Judgement is, based on quality alone, the worst entry in this franchise, but when you take into account that it does some very interesting things with the standard narrative, you might not care for that whole, overrated quality stuff. If you still do, then Judgement is still the same, old, decent shooter that, while starting to get stale and problematic, is still better than most of the other sludge that tries to emulate it. I recommend getting a friend and playing this game through together if you're still interested in the franchise.