Gears of War: Judgement

There is only so much swords and sorcery a man can take before he feels a roiling in his loins for bullets and bazookas. I was on a few month tear with Skyrim (yes, I know it’s not new but if you’ve played it, you understand the addiction to which I’m a thrall) and it was time to pick up something new. One of my buddies was a hardcore Gears of War fan and having played a couple of those games myself,  I decided to pick up the newest installment to the series and play it with him. Thus my review of Gears of War: Judgment  is now thrust upon the world.

Here Is the trailer —

Judgment, though being a sequel, does not brandish a number in its title because it does not follow the same protagonist as the other three games. Instead of following Delta Squad’s leader, Marcus Fenix, you find yourself as Damon Baird leading Kilo Squad.

In the events immediately following Emergence Day, the day when The Locust (bad dudes) emerged from the core of the planet (Sera, not earth as it took me so long to realize when I first started playing the first game), Baird’s Kilo unit finds themselves deep in the seemingly inescapable battle for Halvo’s Bay. The game starts with Kilo squad being brought for an impromptu military tribunal that is led by a single colonel that seems pretty dead set on nailing Baird’s ass to the wall for something his squad did. Each chapter of the story is told from the perspective of a different member of Kilo as they give their testimony to the colonel. Eventually the story narrative is caught up in real time for the game’s climax.

*pant… pant* Okay, is all the important stuff done? Everyone’s caught up? *wipes the seriousness from his brow*. Okay, let’s rap.

I want to start this portion of the review by telling you that I’m not that huge of a GoW fan. Now that’s not say I hate it like I hate clowns or mimes (or the thought of the impending war between the two classes of entertainers and the desolation it will certainly leave behind) but I’m also not one of those guys out there at midnight waiting for a new addition to this game series. That being said, when I initially heard the Judgment would be a sort of prequel that took place away from the main events of the first three games, I thought, what a good opportunity to add a little bit of backstory.

 Unfortunately, Judgment doesn’t go back as far back as I wanted. I wanted to see these ugly bastards coming up through the ground and attacking cities full of innocent people. I wanted disaster sequences. I wanted to see COG forces (the army most of the main characters are part of) scrambling, trying to figure out how to defend themselves against an enemy they’ve never seen before. What I got wasn’t exactly what I wanted… but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good story.

Judgment does a great job using the testimonies of each member of Kilo to spin a pretty well paced yarn.  The overall story has all the same traits as every other GoW game. Bad guy or thing that’s playing hell with everything must be stopped or certain doom will ensue. Enter good guys, who don’t listen to anyone but their own egos, to save humanity’s chances at fighting another day. That being said, it creates a lot of great instances for action sequences and rather fun gameplay.

Each character has a personality that play off of one another’s really well and the banter between them is great and at some times, downright hilarious. I actually like Kilo squad better than Delta just based on the simple fact that their individual personalities are more fun. Plus, Baird is the man. If you ever played the other GoW games you know that he’s a wisecracking, roguish, scene stealer. Well, this is your chance to get all the Baird you could have ever wanted.

Okay, OKAY! I hear you, reader. “Let’s wrap it up Caswell!” Let me just talk about the gameplay real quick as I feel like it’s the most important part… it being a video game and all.

The gameplay in Judgment is made different in the fact that they heavily rely on the ‘Overrun’ scenario which was a concept that was introduced in GoW3. Basically, with the help of some automatic turrets, trip wires, and weapons strewn about an area with nearly sufficient cover, you must defend said area from waves and waves of attackers. While this scenario is really fun, you can’t help but think this would be good along with some really good boss battles. Well, bad news, Overrun scenarios make up for 90% of the boss battles in this game. They typically are the hardest point of the chapter until you beat it and move along into the next one.

Beyond that, everything is pretty much the same as the previous games. I played and beat the game in Co-Op mode and my GoW fanatic friend knew every single weapon in the game and how to fight the various enemies we encountered. That to me just means that they didn’t really introduce any new weapons or bad guys. Even though Judgment isn’t a numbered sequel, I feel like it is the job of any addition to a game series to add something new. Judgment’s only new additions are the fact that you play as different characters and that you play a different story line. In a game series that hasn’t been renowned for its strength in story, it must incorporate new gameplay elements in every installment and this one did not deliver the goods

In Co-Op mode, we beat Judgment in 6 hours. To me, that’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to short of a time to beat any game. At the end, we both sort of held our hands out in a gesture meaning; that was it? Even the final boss fight wasn’t that hard or very fun for that matter. In the end, I just found myself glad that could trade it back to a game store and at least get half of what I paid for it , which is fine, because I feel like I only played half a game… and therefore I should only lose half a game’s worth of money.

If you can, rent Judgment. If you’re a hardcore fan of the GoW series and you need to add this to geek shrine for collector purposes, go get it. Because like I said, I’m not a huge fan enough of these games to love anything that’s overly comparable to its earlier titles. Judgment doesn’t add much in the way of substance to the rest of the series and it might not be worth your time if you hold your time incredibly valuable (like me, who spends nearly an hour playing a game on his phone called “Pew Pew” while he’s on the pot).

Overall, my judgment on Judgment (heh, you see because it’s… called…  You know what? Shutup) is to give it 2.5/5 fist pumps… and that’s being generous. Sorry if I broke your heart by rating a Gears of War title that low… but think about it like this, you won’t play this game, you’ll go have a beer or two instead, you’ll start thinking about Gears of War 4, and suddenly, you’ll start feeling a whole lot better.

-Dave