Gears of War: Judgment review-in-progress update

Chris Watters shares some impressions of Gears of War: Judgment in advance of the GameSpot review.

The launch of Gears of War: Judgment is nigh upon us, and though our written and video reviews aren't ready just yet, the review embargo has lifted, and I wanted to share some of my impressions of the game with you. Judgment feels like a Gears of War game all right, complete with weighty weapons, brutal executions, and armored characters sliding heavily into and around cover. The refined mechanics that define the series are still going strong, but the campaign structure diverges significantly from Gears' past, making Judgment feel like something different.

Set before the events of the first Gears of War, Judgment tells the story of Kilo Squad, a group of four COG soldiers who are being court-martialed by a stern colonel who looks like Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind. As each soldier gives testimony, you play as him or her and go through the actions being recounted. Series veterans Baird and Cole are joined by newcomers Sophia, a recruit in the elite Onyx Guard, and Paduk, a former UIR soldier and enemy of the COGs who now fights alongside them. They make a decent crew, and Paduk's heavily accented jabs at his former foes are often amusing.

As you make your way through the campaign, it quickly becomes clear that the structure of the action is fundamentally different. Rather than simply following one continuous story, Judgment breaks up the action into distinct sections linked by short walk-and-talks. These sections begin with the option to add a difficulty modifier and end with a scoreboard.

The difficulty modifier is cast as declassified testimony, so it might say something like "Kilo Squad alleges that the Locust were using heretofore unseen tactics" or "Paduk says they were only able to find shotgun ammunition in the area." Accepting these modifiers changes the conditions of the combat encounter to come. Lower visibility, tougher enemies, limited ammunition, strict time limits, and specific weapons are some examples of the varied limitations you might face. These often make things harder, and generally feel like a welcome challenge for confident players on normal difficulty. On harder difficulties, they make things much more difficult, especially if you are striving for a three-star rating.

Indeed, it's the scoring element that really sets these sections apart. During the action, miniature leaderboards pop up in the corner, comparing your stats (headshots, executions, kills, and so on) to other players on your friends list. Once you've completed a given stretch, the action pauses, and a scoreboard pops up to tally your stats. You're assigned up to three stars and given the chance to try again. When you move on, things pick up where you left off with continuing testimony, and the story proceeds.

The overall feeling then is not so much seamless campaign story as it is story-driven arcade mode. Judgment treats you less like a soldier on a mission and more like a performer showing off combat skills. It's an odd sensation, but it seems to fit with the narrative structure of giving testimony. The Gears are recounting their combat exploits in detail, and what Gears wouldn't want to talk themselves up?

I'm enjoying the campaign, different as it is, and have also had some fun with the new Overrun multiplayer mode. With up to five COG and five Locust players, this team-based competitive mode recalls the cooperative Beast mode from Gears of War 3, only with human opponents. Playing as the different species and varieties of Locust as you try to break open the locked-down emergence holes is still a gruesome, sinister treat. Combating human players in Locust form as the COG team is also more engaging, and the four specific classes of soldier depend on each other in ways that are important to survival. Matches can come down to the wire and create some truly exciting moments, and I'm looking forward to playing more of this and other competitive modes as I prepare to write the full review.

That review will be coming in the next few days, but until then, I hope these impressions will tide you over. Judgment plays with the Gears of War formula in a few interesting ways, so those fearing just another familiar Gears game may be pleasantly surprised. Share your thoughts in the comments below, and keep an eye out for the review coming soon.

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Chris_Watters

Chris Watters

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.
Gears of War: Judgment

Gears of War: Judgment

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469 comments
dmastor
dmastor

Is this game still being reviewed! craziness this is now becoming a good joke.

Zenwork21
Zenwork21

Worst GOW ever, people can screw did a terrible job ruining this franchise. Loved the previous ones especially Gow3, still playing now.

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

Let me finish the review for this guy. I bought the game at launch. I'm a diehard Gears fan, Here is a little background, I hated Gears 1, Liked Gears 2, Loved Gears 3. Gears three has been out for what 3 years and I still play it almost every weekend. So based on all of that I think  I have a good basis for an opinion. First , I n some ways its very different to the previous games. The controls changed some, There is only Executions in some game modes and in multiplayer the only time you can fight the locusts is in Overrun mode. Overrun mode is a new mode that lets teams battle over E-holes. This is definitely worth playing. Other new game types are Free for all(everybody against everybody). I like this mode a lot more than what I thought I would. And Domination has replaced King of the Hill Having 3 locations to take and  defend vs one that relocates. I personally like this better than KOTH because it makes it harder for a team to dominate.  They can and still do, but it makes them move around giving opportunities for kills. Campaign was ok. With Gears games I always prefer the multiplayer stuff over the story stuff. Over all after playing it since release I would give it a 7.9. Its not Gears 3 , but its worth buying and worth playing and an excellent game if you want to experience Gears for the first time.

Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

I think it's time to pull the plug on this blog, Chris.

pwnzord
pwnzord

Couldn't care less about the game, just had to click on the article since it was still under review.  I could have sworn that Epic pumped out a few Gears of War this year already so I had to see what's up.

I guess that J_Dangerously got it right - this must be one hell of a boring game to not have finished it yet.  Still though it was a Gears of War game, what was there that was so daunting in the challenge of reviewing it?  Learning some new names?  It certainly couldn't have been the gameplay, since that hasn't changed since the first damn game.

J_Dangerously
J_Dangerously

It's clear the reviewer came to the same conclusion I did.... the game is just too boring to care about finishing.

ahztek666
ahztek666

Why the fuck is this STILL in the "under review" section on the reviews page? Get your shit together Gamespot!

edargnwod
edargnwod

Seriously, just slap a score on it and be done.  This "review in progress" has been going since the 17th.  Pathetic...

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

my bets on a 85 score review..
..been playing it, its good but i miss the original controls with the extra hand gun weapon, weapon swapping and i really miss horde mode sad face :(

REXLAWNMOWER
REXLAWNMOWER

It is a concern for me that Gamespot is still silent on the review.  I guess the money spent on advertising (on Gamespot) also buys your silence.  IGN and the other guys hesitated not, making Gamespot look like a paid critic.  Just Sayin.

aus_pride
aus_pride

Played first few levels and think they have done a great job at making the game feel fresh. You can tell people can fly had a lot to do with the scoring system (think bullet storm). Where I think the bread and butter is tho is in the multiplayer, the new overrun mode is awesome to play (think beast mode vs horde mode) and with the new addition of classes I reckon this game is well worth the price. Only thing I'm disappointed with is the microtransactions. I really hope the devs stop doing this or make the game a budget title and let the consumers choose what they buy afterward instead of bleeding people for money. Don't let that put you off buying tho as you can still unlock some seriously cool looking skins for both guns and characters. 9/10

cainetao11
cainetao11

sounds good to me so far. Always loved gears, like the sound of the mp and classified missions. Just got it on dinner break but got 24 hour guard duty so gotta wait til tomorrow after relief takes over.

pip3dream
pip3dream

Is Sophia a playable character in this game?  I'm a lil confused because I thought EPIC just railed against female characters in this brofranchise. 

GLOBALv
GLOBALv

This isn't Gears of War.  It's watered down garbage. Throwing sticky grenades, falling off ledges, always on reticule, no execution mode out of the gate (rumor has it it came back due to popular demand), and no DBNO feature, which is iconic to the game series. Sorry this isn't GoW. They pussified the hell out of this. Oh, and welcome to micro transaction city too. Funny how they neglected that fact as well, huh?

This series has been on the decline since the release of the first one.

CraZkid37
CraZkid37

According to metacritics, the scores are widespread and really mixed. Most are positive but they range currently from 60 - 96. Very interesting. User score on here is a bit lower than expected so far but its obviously too early to say.

Big fan of the others however I'm just not too sure what to think based on what I have seen so far and what others have said. Probably would be something fun to pick up when it gets near half price, but definitely not full price.

sahandx360
sahandx360

I don't know about it's online mode, but the campaign is little dull with nothing new to show 

smsmsmoosavi
smsmsmoosavi

Already played a few hours of campaign.

- It has some strategy missions (Like "Orcs Must Die!" if you have seen that!)

- Also it gives the player some stars at the end of every objective.

These two new mechanics are really annyoing and prevent us from enjoying the pure intense action of GeoW we've had before.

additionally story is not as good as GeoW 3 and characters are not so interesting.

It's hard to predict Gamespot's ratings (with MGR: 8.5 , Crysis 3: 7.5 !!!) but It would be an 8 or optimistically an 8.5.

cboyuno
cboyuno

getting it. I'm a gears head from day 1.

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

Enjoy the gears game but not a fan of Baird at all so can't imagine the campaign having the same feel as the previous one's but deffinitely going to rent.

GALBATRON-
GALBATRON-

I think the film and television franchise The Highlander is to blame.

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

My console is better than your console! If you own the one i don't then you;re just a stupid fanboy.  I have a completely rational and justified hard-on for my company of choice and they provide way better services than yours.

Csantos113
Csantos113

Going to get it today after I read the reviews...

TheMisterCheif
TheMisterCheif

I have already bought this game because i like gears, i wait for no number 

DaDizzel
DaDizzel

we want reviews before the game comes out. That why we are hear, 60 bucks we need some comfort before we purchase. too late now

scouttrooperbob
scouttrooperbob

Its gears guys, If you like Gears, youll like this game, if you don't like gears go to hell.

wondernova
wondernova

What the hell is this crap?! Give us a proper review!

obsequies
obsequies

exclusives sell hardware, there is a lot of money involved worldwide. Expect exclusives to receive higher scores all around just for being exclusives

bubbalooga
bubbalooga

No offence to those who love these titles, but 4 games on the 1 engine is a joke.

Ahsan Abid
Ahsan Abid

the score shud be not more than 7 or 7.5 max coz this gears of war edition is an epic fail

ZRavN
ZRavN

giantbomb 3/5 and rev3games 3/5. If you are interested in this game you might want to hold off for a bit. Chris has written some reviews in the past that have not agreed with the popular consensus like for example medal of honor. The game is probably good enough if you are a huge gears fan and just want more combat in the gears universe. Main complaints so far is that the story is by far the weakest of all the gears games and there is nothing exciting or new in the game. Also, the game seems to be on the short side. Also multiplayer only has 4 modes and only a few maps. But IGN gave it a 9.2 and didn't mention any of those problems and the review reads more like an advertisement so I dunno. 

elancion
elancion

wow a reveiw in progress for a game no longer than  hours 15 at the most.cmon. just go ahead and give the 6.8 you planned on giving it and move foward amicably.

Ryoushi06
Ryoushi06

just realease the review, making this topic in hot news Update?

drumma1
drumma1

Is it me, or does it seem like there is a lack of publicity and enthusiasm for this game? Gears of War was a great series, but I feel like there isn't much reason to get this. I say this because I have two friends who are die hard fans of the franchise, but have no interest in this game. I think GOW is reaching it's end.

marcheegsr
marcheegsr

Dont get me wrong I love my ps3. I have tons of games for it. I also have a xbox360 that I baught just for the gears of war franchise. So im hoping this game is going to be good. I love having the best of both worlds.

joedan38
joedan38

GOW is beast, I can wait to get this!

Gears Of War 3 was crazy still playing to this very day.

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

What the hell is up with all these turd biscuits from PS3 hating on a good franchise they can't play? Get back to the same rehashed God of War or Uncharted 3 which was MAJORLY broken in multi. WAY UNBALANCED!!! I got both systems and prefer 360's exclusives as they are more \epic than any of the PS3 exclusives. Minus Uncharted 2 there is nothing worth talking about except for Payday the heist which is on PC. Get back to playing with people in other countries where the ping is so bad the multiplayer games are almost unplayable. Worst community in the world is PS3 owners and I think everyone knows that. I guess I would be pissed as an early adopter of a 700 dollar system lol./

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

After playing games like Dead Space, Resident Evil, Mass Effect, Vanquish, Ratchet and Clank, Saints Row, Red Dead, W40K: Space Marines, Max Payne, and recetly the Army of Two: TDC Demo, it ASTOUNDS ME that anyone can claim Gears of War is a better shooter franchise. I know people are entitled to their opinion, but Gears of War is as GENERIC as it gets. Name me more than 3 things these games do better or differently than any of these other games on this list, and do dont mention the cover mechanics, because they're the freaking same every game. The only thing I can think of is its reload system, but thats a poor excuse for a uniquety. Also, GOW did NOTHING to revolutionize the TPS market outside of it's exclusivity to Xbox, because about 5 games outside of it utilized a cover based system either at the same time or long before.

huerito323
huerito323

@dxBIGBOSSxb ignore this man. He gave Medal of Honor a 9.0. lol 


Like you said, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Fact is, nearly every TPS wants to play like Gears of War, no matter how much you want to discredit it.

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

@huerito323 @dxBIGBOSSxb Interesting. So you berate me for some old review I made for a crap game in defence for your franchise and then immediatly back off claiming there is no argument due to personal preference? The hypocracy is astounding. Also A. I never said I disliked Gears of War just that its underwhelming and I quite enjoyed GoW3 and B. If you cannot handle factual criticism than please dont insult me with no counterstatment then backpeddle and make the claim that there is no argument. Turncoating isnt acting mature, just evasive.

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

@huerito323 @dxBIGBOSSxb Lol, I've regretted that score ever since. The game sucked major balls! Also, great way to dodge my argument. Attack me and blissfully ignore the flaws your generic, brown, chest high walls simulator. I never said the game was bad, just that it's resume is unimpressive.

Printul_Noptii
Printul_Noptii

@huerito323 @dxBIGBOSSxb I think the reason why people like GOW so much is that the very first game was released at the right moment back when TPS werent that much fun as GOW and it somehow set the the mark for cover based action packes TPS games and its not only that its because it has likable characters, an epic soundtrack and great fire fights and feels overall polished. I am also not a big fan of GOW but I recently replayed the very first one on the PC and I can clearly see why its such a beloved franchise.