Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gears of War: Judgement (Xbox 360)

Reviewed on Xbox 360, available on Xbox 360

Gears of War returns to the market with this prequel

Fans may remember the Gears franchise being one of the Xbox 360's heavy hitters. It was known for its over-the-top violence, dark environments, and firefights from behind cover. While the sparkle effect has definitely faded in time, many remember that Gears of War 2 made "Horde Mode" into a regular feature for multiplayer games. So how does this latest (and possibly last) release hold up against the current standards?

In the campaign, we experience the events of Baird, Cole, and other Cogs before the events of the first Gears of War. Baird and his team are accused of treason, and are brought to trial to plead their case. The game that follows is a flashback, if you will, of the events that lead to the treason trial. During the campaign, you can choose to recall certain details, which change enemy encounters slightly. In singleplayer, the character you control will change based on who is being interviewed.

You will find yourself mosh-fighting at Call of Duty paces

While the story itself is about as tasteless as Gears of War 2, fans will immediately notice the dramatic increase in combat speed. Players and enemies alike die at ridiculous speeds, and fighting from cover seems nearly discouraged. This is a very poor direction for a franchise which has focused highly on promoting these elements in the past. Enemies are sloppily thrown at you in disorganized groups with no real rhyme or reason. Weapons are now limited to only 2 (this includes sidearms). There is also a score system, which the game will pause to review with you every 5-8 minutes.

You may forget who you are fighting, since both teams are Cogs now
Jump to multiplayer, one of the more successful features in the previous Gears titles, and you will find a similar story here. Once again, players die at ridiculous speeds, and cover is discouraged. The new weapons are re-hashed weapons from previous games, and don't add any new elements. Versus modes are now Cogs vs. Cogs, removing all flavor the former Cogs vs. Locust games had. Horde and Beast modes have been removed, and replaced with the new "Overrun" mode, which removes all the fun of Beast and Horde and slaps them together to create a garbage game mode.

In Overrun mode, both Cogs and Locust have been stripped down to bare bones

Gameplay - 2/10
Take everything you loved about the Gears of War gameplay, and bleed it dry until its a bad third-person Call of Duty game. There is no satisfaction in playing even the over-hyped Overrun mode. The only redeeming quality I have found is that this game still contains a split screen Campaign mode, which is becoming increasingly rare in games.

Design - 1/10
Somehow, this game looks worse than its predecessor; Gears of War 3. Visuals are muddy, stages are narrow hallways with not even a small amount of exploration. The "hidden collectible" items are often found laying in plain sight. There are plenty of weapon skins for your multiplayer guns, if you even care about that.

Replay - 3/10
If this game does not frustrate or bore you to death, then you will have a reason to play it over and over. There are some unlockable characters for multiplayer, but there are significantly less than there were in Gears of War 3, especially considering you can no longer play Locust.

Final - 6/30 Heart Breaking
Being a large fan of the Gears franchise, and even having Baird as one of my favorite video game characters, playing this game was a large disappointment for me. Fans and newcomers alike should avoid this title and instead revisit Gears of War 3 if feeling nostalgic. You have been warned.

Recommended Buying Price: No more than 15$

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