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Review

Gears of War: Judgment Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • X360
Aaron Sampson on Google+

A new challenge-based campaign structure and some fresh multiplayer action make Gears of War: Judgment a worthwhile scion of the celebrated franchise.

With the conclusion of the Gears of War trilogy, the Locust threat has been exterminated and Sera's humans can begin to rebuild their devastated world. Marcus Fenix and his surviving Delta Squad brethren have laid down their arms, but a fictional setting as rich as the Locust War provides the potential for many other stories to be told. Gears of War: Judgment ventures back to the early days of this conflict to tell a tale of a disobedient squad standing trial for treason. Though it's a decent story, the campaign structure favors action over immersion, delivering rousing combat challenges at the expense of narrative flow. It's a change of pace for the series, but Judgment successfully serves up the tense, brutal action you know and love, and an assortment of new online modes make it an exciting game for competitive and cooperative players alike.

Before he was the wisecracking private in Delta Squad, Damon Baird was a wisecracking lieutenant in command of Kilo Squad. Just about a month after Emergence Day, Baird finds himself in Halvo Bay, a coastal city that looks a lot like every other Locust-ravaged city. With him is series regular Augustus "The Cole Train" Cole and two new characters. Sophia is an Onyx guard recruit who does things by the book, offering resistance to Baird's crazy plans and sporting an unfortunate hairdo that looks like molded plastic. Paduk is a former enemy of the COG conscripted to fight Locust, and his disgruntled anti-COG potshots are the highlight of the otherwise unremarkable squad chatter.

The story is told in flashbacks as the squad stands trial for treason, with each member taking a turn as the narrator and primary player character. The sneering colonel who prosecutes them makes a good antagonist, and the narrative tells a decent story from the annals of the Locust War. Yet it never achieves the dramatic heights of its predecessors, and this is partly due to the fragmented mission structure that isn't very conducive to long-form storytelling.

It plays out like this: Once the campaign is under way, you walk toward your objective while voice-over and squad dialogue set the stage. Almost immediately, you come upon a big glowing red skull-and-cog, the logo of the Gears franchise. Press a button, and you are presented with the option to deliver declassified testimony, which changes the narration and adds difficulty modifiers to the upcoming combat section. As a soldier testifies about the extra hardships that Kilo Squad faced, these modifiers impose limitations on things like your time, visibility, ammunition, and weapon selection. On normal difficulty, these modifiers are a welcome challenge; on harder difficulties, they make things very challenging indeed.

Ravagers: ya gotta shoot 'em in the pulsating, enraged head.

The combat in Gears of War: Judgment is the same brutal, weighty gunplay that the series has thrived on for years. It's still inherently fun, and the modifiers mix things up enough to make firefights feel fresh. There are new guns and enemies to contend with, as well as a few tweaks that serve to streamline things. You can carry only two weapons now, switching between them with the press of a button, and the hey-they're-sticky-now grenades are mapped to the left bumper for quick release.

With modifiers activated, combat is as lively as ever, but while this structure benefits the action, the focus on scoring disrupts the flow of your adventure. Beginning each combat section is painless, but at the end of each one, you are given a star rating and shown tallies of your accomplishments. With that section complete, you soon come upon another glowing red logo, and the cycle begins anew. The interruptive tally screens and the regular notifications comparing your stats to those of your Xbox Live friends make it feel like Gears of War: Judgment is primarily concerned with encouraging you to perform combat feats for glory. This tallying can be fun when you're playing cooperatively or striving for perfect three-star runs, but the regular appearance of the game-halting score reports makes the campaign feel oddly stilted.

The focus on scoring is not an unnatural evolution, however; previous Gears games were eager to remind you of your achievement progress with pop-up notifications, and the tally system in Judgment takes that accomplishment-focused play one step further. There's a lot of fun to be had with this structure and these modifiers, but those looking to experience another grand Gears campaign will be disappointed. A shorter, unlockable campaign called Aftermath follows the traditional structure (no modifiers here) and tells the story of a mission Baird and Cole undertook during the events of Gears of War 3. It's nice to see Paduk again, but Aftermath moves too slowly and spends too much time with a dull new enemy type to provide much excitement.

All told, the two campaigns last about seven hours, so you'll likely want to spend some time in multiplayer to get your money's worth. Fortunately, the brutal and tense combat continues to thrive in both competitive and cooperative environments. Team Deathmatch is joined by two familiar shooter modes that are new to the Gears series: Free for All and Domination. Whether it's the gory anarchy of every Gear for him- or herself, or the frantic intensity of trying to hold a capture point against a surging enemy team, these modes deliver thrills that fit very nicely into the competitive catalog.

On the cooperative side, the new Survival mode puts you and up to four others in a struggle to defend three sequential points against 10 waves of AI-controlled Locust enemies. A sort of replacement for the absent Horde mode, Survival doesn't let you construct fortifications, only repair them. To do so, you must play as the engineer, one of the four new classes with specific support abilities. Engineers can also deploy temporary turrets, while the soldier, medic, and scout all have grenades that bestow ammo, health, and increased enemy visibility, respectively. There are a few other strategic wrinkles, and in order to surmount the stiff challenge, you need to talk strategy with your teammates.

Overrun mode is essentially the same as Survival, except the Locust are controlled by other human players. This can make struggles significantly tougher, but it also gives you the chance to relish in destruction. Whether you're rending fences and soldiers with your horrible Locust teeth or staunchly defending with your new support abilities, both Survival and Overrun work best when your team is coordinated. Some matches can feel like landslides in which one team never stood a chance, but the better ones are tense and increasingly frantic as you struggle against the clock to rally your team to victory.

Drop the Hammer of Dawn in Free for All and watch the ribbons pile up.

These two modes replace the Horde and Beast modes of Gears games past, but they scratch the same itches and add a few new twists. These changes, along with the structural differences in the campaign, make Judgment feel like its own game, worthwhile and exciting in its own right. Yet it still stands in the shadow of those that came before it, and little flaws like loading hiccups and soft textures underscore the fact that Judgment feels like a lesser achievement. Still, it's a heck of a lot of fun, and if you still enjoy utterly destroying hulking monstrosities with one blast of the sawed-off shotgun, you'll find a lot to like in Gears of War: Judgment.

The Good
Difficulty modifiers spice up combat
Character classes engender teamwork in Survival and Overrun
Free for All and Domination are great multiplayer additions
The Bad
Narrative flow is regularly disrupted
Aftermath campaign is lackluster
7.5
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

With his Apple IIGS as the spark and his neighbor's NES the fuel, Chris Watters' passion for gaming caught fire early. Y

Discussion

706 comments
themc_7
themc_7

I won't be playing the co-op or going online....is this worth getting? Lots of Single Player content? Bots?

monowasp
monowasp

The game looks good, but there are a few glitches here and there. "Judgment" is better than GoW3, but not as good as GoW1 or GoW2. "People Can Fly" still did a fantastic job on this one.

bowchicka07
bowchicka07

I like the declassified missions and how they incorporated it and the narrative in the campaign. Most of the campaign has a firefight feel to it which is my style; I'd rather kill stuff than objective based crap which wasn't ever a gears problem but still. Great shooter 8.5/10

sm00thpapa
sm00thpapa

Love this game almost in the top 100 of overrun. Come get some!

greymon12345
greymon12345

Not as good as the previous installments.

toffy666
toffy666

good game but not as the previous ones

scubasteve70
scubasteve70

I actually somewhat agree with this review. I was thoroughly disappointed with the multiplayer. Almost in just astonishment. I started with my standard thought process. Let me customize my COG/Locust preferences..... wait where are the locust? Then I go into actual game-types  4 total, with 4 maps...... How much did this cost again? 60 dollars, I forgot.

I enjoyed the campaign, but the chunk of what made me love gears so much was gone. No more downing people online, no more executions, and a Halo 4/COD esque gun setup. Unfortunately this was an after-thought in completion and design. 

Thumbler76
Thumbler76

I've played the first hours of Judgment, and as a fan of the series I'm finding it very disappointing. I haven't tried the multyplayer because I have not a good connection, but I can say that Chris Watters is totally right in his review.

LukeD420
LukeD420

I had the option to buy Gears: judgement & Bioshock Infinite today...


I bought Bioshock Infinite. 


Am i the only one still mad they took out Horde mode? WTF


DeltaCobra
DeltaCobra

Forget Gears 4. It doesn't compare to the other games in the series.

Just look at gears 3.

For me, when Dom drove away in his truck.. and that awesome music started playing.. and he then drove that truck straight into the locusts for both a) to save the Cogs and b) he couldn't go on without his wife.. was one of the most amazing moments in video game history.

DOOOM!!! NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

snake8304
snake8304

Most people are quite angry with this game but Actually for me the game isn't totally bad,i enjoy both campaigns (amazing campaigns),the new controls works well once you get used to them and feels good with the fast rythm of the game,i like the fact that the maps are quite big and with leves from where you can jump and fall over your enemies, it gives the gears of war franchise a freedom in mobility that previous games couldnt even let us imagine,the fact that now the person that doesn't know how to play well with a gnasher have an oportunitty to battle and survive to the gnasher vets is very good and it makes the game more unexpected when it comes to multiplayer in previous gears you know how to proceed to the gnasher battle but now this are quite different,the stim grenades aren't so anoying you know even if someone uses one he/she can't survive is you hit them with your gnasher or swaved off in close range and overrun is quite fun to play but the BAD SIDE of this game was that it ignores it's original mechanics i mean it's good the fast pace controls,it's good that more weapons get into the overtaken territorry of the gnasher in multiplayer of previous gears of war game,it's good that the campaign has it's declassified challenges,it's good that overrun introduces the class system into the cooperative multiplayer, but what it's not good i'ts that cog versus locust was taken away,that king of the hill was taken away,that dbno one of the gears of war trademarks was taken away,that there are just some few maps for every mode,people can fly pass over the blood and flesh of gears of war multiplayer is and that it's WHAT IS BAD you know gears of war for me is the reason why i have a xbox360 and as a fan i was expecting something amazing and faiftful to the franchise and symply judgement even tough ins't a bad game (it's wayyyy better than most of the third person shooters out there) it doesn't live to gears of war standards,BUT IT ISN´T LOST cause it can be saved if the developers FIX IT wich is something totally posible if they simply listen to their fans and actually it's quite simple to solve if they want to solve it,for they need to:1)bring back DBNO to every competitive mode at least as an optional feature you know is some people want to play judgement without it is ok but there are some old school gamers like me that love this mechanic. 2)bring back classic modes like king of the hill,capture the leader,wignman and guardian. 3)bring back the locust to the multiplayer, i mean the 3d models are on the game so why not simply release a dlc that allow a new mode called cog versus locust? 4)i know is quite hard but BRING BACK HORDE,you know overrun and survival aren't bad but horde was one of the greatest cooperatives modes in the videogames history so, why you guys take it away?we like it bring it back.5)GIVE US MORE MAPS if you guys are lazy and doesn't want to design new ones just bring the old maps from previous gears of war game,just give us more content to play we get very bored of playing the same 5 maps (5 maps with haven).I guess that's all i really hope that people can fly listen to the comunnity and fix the game it will be a shame if they leave this game as it is right now,as i said it's not a bad game but as a gears of war game it fell down short.

Attvck01
Attvck01

As soon as a franchise releases a Prequel to everything you've played over the last 6 years, you know its dead. Next. 

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

A very forgettable gears of war to say its the 4th installment with a poor storyline and nothing new from the last, even the 2 new characters lacked any likeability with an arcade twist making me feel it was slapt together with no real love to create something special, the game isn't terrible but comparing to the brand it wasn't great. Desurved a 7.5 in my eyes.

bd_devil
bd_devil

THIS IS GEARS OF WAR YOU SMART***S  WHATS WRONG WITH YOU THIS IS THE CROWN OF THE XBOX GAMES AFTER HALO AND YOU SAY THIS STUPID EXCUSES !!!! AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A XBOX FANS AND TALKING ON YOUR  EXCLUSIVE GAMES !!!!!! WTF !!!!!! ILL TELL YOU THIS THE GAME IS CRAZY AS HELL AND ITS DESERVE AT LEAST 9.5 THE TRUTH IS 10 WITH OR WITHOUT MARCOS HIS FRIENDS IS ENOUGH TO KICK HELL THE A** OF THEM  

babylovespie69
babylovespie69

They should've at least given this an 8.. its still a good game but 7.5..c'mon

halo117xbox
halo117xbox

This game sucks another xbox exclusive tried to be made like COD! 1st halo and now this? Microsoft are ruining they're exclusive games and if they keep that up i'm sure they're are going to lose fans and customers. Next-Gen if they keep making games a copy cutt of cod and i'm definitely going to switch to PS4

woman4games
woman4games

And where is horde? Are you kidding? I swear to God I feel like I need a support group to get through this. So disappointed.

woman4games
woman4games

WHERE THE HELL ARE THE LOCUST IN THE MULTIPLAYER?!

axelx666
axelx666

based on what i heard, i thought it did MUCH worse.

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

I'm disappointed with how the story is told. because it's just one person recalling the events, it almost completely takes out the personalities the characters have.  I was so happy to have Baird as the main character, but it just doesn't seem like the same Baird from the previous games

SoulRain2
SoulRain2

wait, did they removed the review? 

simransaha
simransaha

yup ..  Oh highly energetic, grate..

  

Pilgrim117
Pilgrim117

@themc_7 More replayability that previous Gears for single-player, and there's bots for all multiplayer mode. Great for the solo player!

joke_man
joke_man

@bd_devil 

Failed attempt at trolling, or you're retarded...I'm still not sure which...

metalagro20
metalagro20

@halo117xbox I thought they already lost all there fan base to playstation after stating there making it so all games must have an online connection, and there's a strong rumour going around that it will not be backwards compatible, than to top that off after you purchase a game you install it on the console than the disc is useless so they can cut out the used games market :P


I'm a PC gamer not a playstation one so i'm not part of these console wars but i was just under the assumption that everyone already thought microsofts next console was a piece of shit :P lol

theloneturkey
theloneturkey

@halo117xbox Nothing like COD. What are you talking about! COD is FPS this is a THIRD person shooter. I also do not think in COD you fend off against locust. You just made the biggest derp there my friend.

theloneturkey
theloneturkey

@woman4games I prefer it now. In GOW 3 I was always locust and I could play with a massive positive K/D as COG but as Locust I always went negative. I am happy about that but I also see majority aren't.

Keivz_basic
Keivz_basic

@Fryboy101 Did you play the game? It isn't just one person's recollection; it's Kilo squad's recollection. And it's done very well imho.

RiKanKiDD
RiKanKiDD

@Fryboy101 Well that's because this is years before. They had to change his personality. 

ddoggbritt16
ddoggbritt16

@Mohammed Tarik Please tell me you are joking


bd_devil
bd_devil

@joke_man @bd_devil no trolling or retarded im fan of gears of war if you like it fine but if you not don't change the object and talking about trolling bullsh*t 

metalagro20
metalagro20

@theloneturkey @halo117xbox Actually you did sr. you're stating games can not be similar because one is in third person and the other is in first, than you continued to say it can not be similar to another game because the AI has a differant character skin lol?


So you're telling me super meat boy is nothing like mario, wolfenstein is nothing like doom, CoD is nothing like homefront?

because CoD's AI are middle easterners and homefront uses koreans. I think you should smack yourself in the face that's how hard you derped lol.

DeltaCobra
DeltaCobra

@theloneturkey @woman4games That's in your head. Locust/Cog same difference. What REALLY sucks is the no frag tagging the walls, not being able to have a decent gun battle, not being able to down people and execute them (remember the first time you beat someone down?), walking being so slow and running being so awkward now, the game having no fluidity now.. IM a gears fan through and through - since gears 1, ive had easy over 100,000 kills, right now im ranked 7999 all time on gears 3, and at one stage I was ranked 800 on Gears one. This game though - is crap If you are a true fan. It feels way to arcade and cheaply slapped together.

lonewolf315
lonewolf315

@Keivz_basic @Fryboy101 I played the game. It's a massive step backwards for the series. The characters are oddly silent and devoid of personality. There's no tension. You know all four members of Kilo make it through. They're alive at the court martial. You know there will be no tear-filled moments like a certain scene in Gears of War 3.

ddoggbritt16
ddoggbritt16

 @metalagro20 @bd_devil @joke_man if you were a fan of this series you wouldnt like this game,it took away everything that made gears uniqueno more dbno no more curb stomping,they ruinned the weapon control its not really like a gears game at all the only thing thats the same is the characters and the name

metalagro20
metalagro20

@bd_devil @joke_man I bet he rather be new at gaming than shit at it, because if you still think this game is half ass decent you wouldn't know a good game if it kicked you in the face. Thus you must be to shit at video games to not have a broad enough horizon to compare it to anything lol.

theloneturkey
theloneturkey

@DeltaCobra @theloneturkey @woman4games I feel that way now. I havn't touched the game in weeks and have accomplished everything to do. I also was annoyed that us Gears fans were not rewarded through weapon skins like in Gears 3. I was hoping (Because I have completed pretty much everything for Gears 1, 2, 3) that I would be given a weapon skin to show that I am loyal to the end. Overall... I got bored quickly after doing the campaign and Insane.

Gears of War: Judgment More Info

  • First Released
    • Xbox 360
    Gears of War: Judgment takes you back before events of the original Gears of War trilogy to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day where you follow Kilo Squad as they fight to save the city of Halvo Bay from an unstoppable enemy.
    7.3
    Average User RatingOut of 669 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Gears of War: Judgment
    Developed by:
    Epic Games
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Action, Team-Based, 3D, Shooter, Third-Person
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language