People would argue that outside of the Halo universe, Gears of War is the franchise that has done the most for Microsoft and its foray into the world of gaming consoles.That’s because Gears did for the Xbox 360 what Halo did for the original Xbox. It was an Xbox exclusive title that created a universe of gore, guts, head shots, execution and chainsaws that fans became obsessed with.Three games later, Gears stood as the definitive franchise on the Xbox 360.
There is not much that is overwhelmingly different about Judgment. At its most basic, Judgment is still a Gears title that fans will enjoy and consume like they have in the past.
Judgment is a prequel to the original trilogy and is told through a series of testimonials given during a war tribunal. Lt. Damon Baird, who fans will immediately remember from the original games, and his crew, Augusts Cole, Garron Paduk and Sofia Hendrick, are on trial for disobeying the COG (not to spoil the story, but you will learn what exactly Kilo Squad did).
It’s a great idea, telling the game’s story through a series of flashbacks during a trial, the problem is you never really get into a gameplay flow because of the new Star Rating mechanic.
Judgment is the first Gears title not developed by Epic Games,a new studio took over called People Can Fly. While People Can Fly sticks to the tried and true formula that made the original trilogy one of gaming’s best, there are some issues. Namely, as mentioned above, the rating system and how is creates disjointed gameplay during the single-player campaign. Depending on how well you complete a segment of the game’s story (kills, downs and whether or not you went through the Declassified testimony) will earn you up to three stars that will be tallied as a way of keeping a “score” and will unlock the Aftermath portion of the campaign (which takes place after the third game). Again, in theory this is a nice feature, but unfortunately the fact that you will get stopped every 10 minutes or so to receive your rating breaks up the portions of the single-player campaign in a way that it never really feels like you are playing through a fluid story. Quite frankly, this hinders the game.
The “declassified” testimony is one of the cooler things People Can Fly introduced. When you choose to declassify portions of the game’s story, it will add objectives or obstacles to the main campaign. Some of these additions will force you to only use certain weapons, give enemies better weapons, put a time limit on areas, fill rooms with dust/smoke so you cannot see as well or give you an added objective to complete before you move on. Overall this makes the game different for the player and puts a new spin on things.
Final Thoughts: If I had to give the Campaign a score it would be a 7 out 10. Judgment is still a Gears game, even though it changes some of the formula. While there are a few things that are frustrating (the disjointed feel you can sometimes get), playing through Judgment’s campaign and multiplayer modes serve as perfectly good fodder for hungry Gears fans who have spent the past 18 months replaying Gears 3 and its multiplayer. Nearly everything here will cater to even the most picky of Gears fans. The additions of OverRun, Survival and Declassified testimony all make Judgment that much more fun to play and create variety in a franchise that has not gotten stale seven years later.