Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14
  1. #1
    Shadow Hide You Vault Hunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    The Rakk Cave
    Posts
    4,899

    Gears of War: Judgment Review - Xbox 360 - By INTY



    Riiight, Gears of War. I’ve had a lot to say about this series so far, though, most of my older comments are dated, and non-credible as worthwhile observations. Gears of War: Judgement gives me a chance to visit a title of the series with my current analytic capabilities, to give you lot an idea of whether or not this is worth your money. Bare in mind of course, this game is only available to play on the Xbox 360.

    Writing and themes of the Campaign and overall aesthetics.

    Gears of War: Judgements campaign places itself before all of the current titles in this gritty Third-Person Shooter series, being a prequel to the original Gears of War. The events are set soon after Emergence Day and revolve around Kilo Squad, comprised of Daimon Baird and Augustus Cole as well as new characters Sofia Hendricks, an Onyx Guard Cadet and Garron Paduk, an ex-soldier of the U.R.I, as they are tried for War Crimes before Colonel Ezra Loomis. You play out the events of the previous hours leading up to the trial, told from the perspective of each member of Kilo Squad.

    Now, I myself was rather surprised with the result of exactly how much focus was put into the narrative in this game. The Gears of Wars series, regardless of its quality and execution has always had the usual narrative driven campaign pace. Various cut scenes placed at certain key points after a few game sequences with dialogue and other scripted events here and there in-between. While the writing has gotten better over time for the games, overall the strength has always been the game-play, to a point where I’ve always felt personally as though the focus on the story was a bit stronger than it should have been. The focus between the two in this game is very surprising considering the others.

    This may instantly put a few of you off from this instalment in the series, but the writing and story in this game is very much treated as nothing more than short bursts of context for the game-play. There’s little to no real focus on the games unique events as far as the writing goes, save a small few cut-scenes that occur. This differs strongly from the narrative focus the series campaigns have ran with thus far, so just fair warning on that.

    What is there though is competent. As I say, it’s treated as nothing more than context truly, so you really shouldn’t be expecting any cinematic triumphs or real character development. What you do get is some competent dialogue used as exposition as you play out the events, given by some competent characters, whose banter and dialogue throughout the game will here and there give a good line, but don’t expect much more. As for the atmosphere you can expect from this game, most of it is grounded by the world itself, emitted by the scenery and dialogue and it does fit the bill for what’s going on in the game. The landscapes really give this feeling of great loss and ruin, and the constant unsettled or desperate com-chatter that plays over your coms during game-play do give you a sense of urgency.

    The Gears of War series is a very gritty, bad-ass one. Judgement absolutely upholds that, especially with some changes and tweaks to the game-play which I’ll mention in the game-play section. I’ll also mention here that Baird and Cole are surprisingly under-played-but again; you shouldn’t expect anything from the writing in this, even small things that you may have expected from a Gears game. A few good moments here and there but, as I said earlier, nothing more than context.

    As for the games presentation, this is the main reason as for why people know this franchise for its grittiness. The series has always had a very rough look to it, be it from the hardened, tank-grade Soldiers of the C.O.G, to the plethora of brutal killing techniques the sadists have. This game seems to have the exact same engine and overall graphical quality of the series previous instalment; Gears of War 3, which offers a gorgeous l-…ok it’s hard to call this game gorgeous. That’s not because the colour pallet consists of nothing but browns though. This series is a bit scarred in its reputation due to the first and second title in the series very much relying on the colour brown, how ever I can actually say this wasn’t a present issue in Judgement. The game can be dark, but it’s done appropriately and selectively. No in all honesty the game is very good on the eye, having a varied colour pallet which is used in good variation, showing the same initiative for presentation in Gears of War 3’s art direction, models are of a very good quality and the game also features some really good environmental effects. The only reason I can’t quite call the game gorgeous is because, well…


    It looks good but I can’t call the above image ‘good-looking’ for moral reasons.

    Yes, the game is hell-bent on making itself look gritty, in all most every scene you’ll find. The graphics add heavily to this. The sound effect also add to this focus as well, from the loud, responsive and meaty firing of the guns, to the fan-favourite sickening ‘pop’ of a Locust skull when you get a headshot. The soundtrack in this one, is also so far the best one to date in a Gears game. This is sort of relevant to what I said earlier of I thought the previous titles in the series focused a bit too much on the narrative. Where the previous sound-tracks had a more orchestral, dramatic theme to them, they took themselves too seriously for what Gears of War is at its nature. The soundtrack in this game adds a certain edge to the tracks this time around, still keeping the dramatic tone of the previous tracks, yet also adding some metal themed instruments this time around. Here’s a track I particularly liked hearing during the sequences it was coupled to.


    Overall, you can expect a very gritty, urgent, war-like atmosphere from this title as you proceed through the levels. This is added to heavily with the presentation of the aesthetics and the environments on a whole. How ever, as I said, the franchise has always had a standard for a certain amount of focus on the narrative aspect, but it isn’t very present here. Try and imagine things in the past Gears of War titles that distract or take from the game-play, and those are the aspects that aren’t as focused on in this, such as cut-scenes. Providing it doesn’t take you out of the game, stuff like the environments and dialogue as context are far from unseen to. But that’s the thing, it’s all just context for the game-play, be it well-developed or not. If that bothers you, if what I’m about to detail below isn’t enough for you, this is a title you might want to miss, or wait a while for it to go down in price before purchasing.

    [QUOTE=INTY]
    Game-play

    Now, I really loved the overall model for Gears of War 3, and this game seems to carry it. While Gears of War 3’s campaign in and of itself was a totally independent and competent campaign, it was not frozen in its own little bubble and the same is to be said for the same reason here. When you start playing this game with your Xbox Live account, you’ll have a character made for you that is used to access both the campaign and the Multi-Player Modes. You can actually gain experience to level up your character from either, which is a considerable rarity in games. This is relevant due to the games very significant focus on unlockables. You can unlock various ribbons, and Tiered Medals which you can stick under your characters profile in Multi-player lobbies through performing certain specific challenges and you can unlock character and weapon skins for the multi-player by reaching certain levels, through doing specific challenges, or through opening Prize Boxes which you get through reaching certain milestones. Prize Boxes are admittedly a bit like Crates in Team Fortress 2 on the P.C, in that you open them and hope for the best, but the boxes come in Tiers, and you’re more likely to get better stuff with the better Tiers. What all of this means though, is that what you do in the campaign as well as the Multi-Player can contribute to all of this, so the game does a very good job of having everything feel connected. Nothing feels tacked on as a result of this.


    This is the upgrades menu…but I am not Babalu.

    Now, because you are essentially playing with the same profile in either the Multi-player Modes or the Campaign, let’s talk about that. Well, while you do level up with exp, your character profile doesn’t improve in any literal way. While unlockables and unlock progress does carry over between game modes and the Campaign, your profile always has limitations that prevent any real mechanical upgrades for you, there’s nothing like increased stats or permanent weapon unlocks to be gained. In the Muli-player, you have all of the initial weapon available to you from the start (with other weapons being available in the maps themselves) and must choose one to bring in to the modes with you, and in the Campaign you load in with specific weapons. When broken down, your profile is mechanically always the same, and depending on what mode of game you’re in, they’ll have certain weapons. It’s you and your skills that improves in the Gears games, not your profile and it’s abilities.

    That’s not to say your playable character can’t do things though! In fact you can do many things with it. You can either straight up gun your enemy down with the plethora of weaponry in the game (or straight up kill them instantly depending on the gun), you can do enough damage to put them in a state where they can’t fight and are left crawling on the ground unless one of their own picks them up (this can also happen to you, and the state is called ‘down-but-not-out’), where you can either walk up to them or perform an instant killing execution on them (each weapon has its own execution) or you can even pick the poor ******* up as a hostage, holding him in front of you with one arm while you use the other to shoot. Each option is very satisfying and adds a lot to the games gritty nature. Remember me saying how much the aesthetics add to that? You can overwhelm it with what you can do.

    Of course Gears of War is a cover-based game series, so your playable character in any game mode is given ample amounts of convenient cover to take advantage of-and also use for combat, be it sticking your gun over the top of the cover to blind-fire, spring over the wall to mantle kick anyone that might be hiding behind it or simply coming over to fire at your enemies. Cover in this game works very well. You can move in the direction of the attachable surface and tap A, instantly pushing you against it providing you’re close enough. For some the characters have always moved very slowly in Gears, even while running, though I don’t feel this to be a problem for the linear, primarily corridor based-levels or maps the game features. Either way, players do move at a slow, yet smooth and controllable speed, and are healthily responsive.

    A few tweaks have also been made to the playable characters in this one mind you. Now there are only two weapons slots you can have, meaning you no longer have a third pistol slot, so pistols must now be shared with the two weapon slots. This is definitely an unnecessary restriction, considering in all fairness that the previous set-up of 2 weapons and a pistol was perfectly fine, and held no true problem. One arguable positive this does bring about now though is that while using a Boomshield or hostage, you aren’t restricted to a pistol only. That’s correct, this means you can indeed kill people with a Gnasher or Lancer, while holding it with one arm. Possible? No…satisfying? Definitely! Grenades are now specifically accessed with the LB button, and are actually a bit awkward to use. You can’t just tap the button to equip them, and then decide what to do with them. If you want to use a grenade for say tagging it to a wall, you have to hold down the button now, standing next to the wall and clicking the button to tag while still holding it down, and the moment you let go the grenade goes on its arced path.

    So-those are your characters capabilities. Here’s a look at what you can do with them. We’ll start with the campaign first I think.

    So, whereas the other titles in this series so far have been developed by EpicGames themselves, this title’s mainly had PeopleCanFly (who incidentally collaborated with EpicGames to create the game Bulletstorm, 2 years ago) at its reigns, and it definitely shows. The developers clearly had a different mind-frame with this games campaign, and exactly how the games core mechanics and features should be focused on in contrast with the narrative. The most note-worthy aspect to this campaign is its set-up, in that it feels a bit like an Arcade game. There are 6 chapters, split into multiple sections in the game, and at the end of each section there’s a score-board, detailing things such as your kills, times you’ve gone down etc. and it scores you for it. Incidentally if you can manage to obtain 40 stars throughout the campaign (which are incidentally achieved through the rating system in the campaign scoreboard), you unlock an additional mini-campaign ‘Aftermath’ which is staged during Gears of War 3. (Personally I think Aftermath was going to be a D.L.C for Gears of War 3. It runs much more like a level from that game.) Each section is fairly short as well, consisting for the most part of 1 or 2 rooms of enemies, or less common 2 wave arena sections, where you have fortifications and can place turrets like you can in the Survival mode. This is again very different from the usual campaign set-up this franchise is known to have, and with the lack of focus/development on the writing, it certainly does knock this game away from the usual cinematic standard the series is known for. What this experience does offer though, is a LOT more time spent purely in the game itself, not out of it. And PeopleCanFly take full advantage of that.

    Due to the emphasis on cinematics and cut-scenes in the Gears Games, there isn’t quite enough time available in the reasonably short campaigns to fully explore the full length of worthwhile enemy combinations/encounters you could have. Here the encounters you have are relentless, offering sequences that vary in level design, enemy number/type/ratio, available weapons, and there are even optional modifications available to accept on every individual section, known as ‘Declassified Missions’, that make the levels harder for the sake of a higher score. This isn’t even cheap stuff like ‘enemies take more damage’, this can vary from stuff such as ‘Health regenerates slowly, resulting in death if it fully depletes’ or ‘Serapede eggs are placed around the room. Failure to destroy them all before proceeding will result in additional attacking Cerapedes in the next section.’ A bit of a problem I have with these optional modifications though, is that if you accept them, the characters who’s currently narrating the events of the game makes a comment about the modified mission as well, as though it definitely happened in the campaigns canon. How ever if in another instance you don’t accept the modification, it just simply doesn’t happen. I can imagine this could be a bit distracting on one of the more narrative relevant modifications, such as, one that adds a time limit to the level, due to the area you’re currently in being close to self-destructing, and it simply ‘can or can’t happen’ depending on whether or not you accepted this alternate mission. Now I’m fine with this game not focusing on the writing, how ever this does somewhat take away from the writing on the whole, which is another thing entirely. Small issue in the long run, but just a bit distracting.

    Your overall experience here, is a campaign with a LOT of depth in level design. While the game is overall a linear shooter, there are some branching paths, allowing you to flank and do other things, which is a nice thing to notice, but the most important aspect is it’s awareness and usage of elements. The many weapons offered to you for different, varied and specific sequences which can perhaps be made even more particular/specific by the optional modifications and are fleshed out by the horde of differently functioning enemies…I suppose it really is an experimental case of ‘let’s see how much we can pull off with the stuff from Gears of War’ on PeopleCanFly’s part, and they definitely seemed to have been a good choice for doing this. They seem to know their symphonies when it comes to composing elements.

    And then there are the elements themselves. This is an issue. Now there are new things to play with but…well, we’ll talk about that after I comment on the overall state. First of all the guns. There are a LOT of guns available to you in this, ranging from the ever so humble iconic Lancer Assault Rifle to the not so humble Oneshot. Regardless of their level of subtlety which none of the weapons in this series have, they all make a mess of the Locust Hordes, and they all do it in a satisfying manner. Whether it’s the satisfying and authentic noise the gun makes during the meaty firing animation or the way a Locust can break apart under the Chainsaw bayonet, I just don’t know what sells it for me with the gun-play in this game. Either way, it’s just damn well satisfying. And what do you use them on? The Locust of course, and the Locust horde is one of my favourite enemy force in any game, falling behind Mentals Militia in Serious Sam, and the Necromorphs in Dead Space. There’s a lot of variety behind them, and for the most part they all do different things.

    Now here’s where a large problem in this game lies. There’s not a lot that’s new element wise. I distinctly remember two guns, one that was essentially a less poweful version of the Longshot (The Markza), and one that was a rip-off of the Digger, just with a different name and design (The Booshka). And there’s another new enemy called the Rager who does add to the locust Horde but, here’s the thing, there’s little to nothing that’s new. That’s not good for a new instalment to a series, that is comprised of linear gameplay, especially if the developers have already made the decision to put little to no focus on the writing. Focus on the writing can be very good for sequels, or more relevantly, new instalments in franchises, if you’ve not got much in the ways of new elements or mechanics in the game-play to back that up. Here, it seems as though neither of those has been done, which is very much something you should consider. What this game does , is focus on using the elements that were in the previous games, in ways that Epic didn’t, using them in specific scenarios and situations that are very specific and do make you need to do certain things. That was personally enjoyable for me, but definitely consider that for yourself.

    So the Campaign. While I did enjoy it, and with good reason, it feels a lot more like an attachment/alternate game mode that could have been attached to Gears of War 3, an Arcade mode I suppose. Even with its stylistic choice of mainly being game-play driven and how it executes it, it is under-developed due to its lack of new game-play features, mechanics or elements. It certainly does provide enjoyable experiences never the less though.

    As for the Multi-Player, it adds a few more mechanics yet carries the same issue of fans probably not appreciating certain things. The biggest one is that most of the games modes seem to have been re-worked in very specific ways, practically making them different experiences, and yet rather than just leaving them in as new options, they entirely replace the old modes. This can be said for Horde mode, which is now Survival Mode. I think the designers had been playing a LOT of Mann Vs Machine in Team Fortress 2 when developing this one. Your team has to prevent the Locust team from reaching and destroying an Emergence Hole barricade and failure to do so twice will require you to defend a generator (mechanically the same as the Emergence Hole Barricade) but failure to protect this one results in needing to start over. There are 10 waves that must be survived and this time around you have to play as certain classes. I’m not kidding with my T.F. 2 comparison here, as the classes available are the Engineer, the Soldier, the Scout and the Medic. Each class has of course its own specific function and special ability. All of the classes seem to have their own worthwhile functions, and due to the game modes difficulty, team-work is very well required, particularly with the Medics abilities, and the Soldiers ability to drop ammo.



    An engineer repairing a fence from a drive-by Kantus shoot-out. Oh and yes, he does have access to a Turret.

    Beast Mode is also gone now, in exchange for Overrun. In this mode, 2 teams have access to the human classes in Survival Mode who have to defend the Emergence Holes and Generator, from the attacking Locust team, and allows you to take control quite a few of the Locusts types. Due to certain weaknesses on the Locusts side, they seem relatively balanced, all though the only issue I’ve noticed with this game mode is the Soldiers primary weapon the ‘Booshka’. It’s far too over-powered and definitely gives the Defending team too easy of a time.

    Other than those, you’ve got Team Death-Match, Free-For-All and Domination. In these modes you can start with a weapon of your choice and a Snub Pistol (which can be exchanged for a weapon on the ground during the games) as well as a Grenade of your choice. The Free-for-All modes have a fairly standard set-up, what you’d expect from those types of modes, and are exceptionally well executed, and in Domination, there are three capturable rings on the map which opposing teams have to fight for. The longer for which a ring has been claimed, the more points the team who captured it build up, until you’ve successfully got enough points to win. This is a good spin on King of the Hill that I’ve seen a few times recently in games, as it doesn’t allow for camping on the same ring for the team who has captured it. The games can also be specified in a lot of ways in terms of a time limit, what weapons are available, how many points before someone wins, etc.

    The only issue I’d say the Multiplayer has, it being particularly problematic in the competitive modes, are there are a few awkward maps, in the sense of that they’re rather maze-like, tight, corridors comprised of awkward angles, and there are a lot of high grounds that can be easily ‘claimed’.

    Overall the Multiplayer Modes I’d say are very competent. VERY DIFFERENT, for instance in the above mentioned 3 modes it’s humans against humans, for some reason, but never-the-less the game modes are very solid. Only real mechanical issue I saw in one was with the Soldiers Booshka in Overrun, and hopefully that will be removed, or nerfed. Past that I’d highly recommend giving the modes a try, as they are very enjoyable, well-balanced and well thought out. They are very different from what fans of the series will have come to expect, though.



    I enjoyed my time with Gears of War: Judgement, but, here’s the thing. I also enjoyed my time with Gears of War 3. This game is very much a blatant continuation from Gears of War 3 from a mechanical stand-point but it doesn’t go too far with its expanse whatsoever. Does that make it bad? I wouldn’t go that far, as with the way it differently presents and lets you play with its elements, and does give you a minor amount of new stuff, the game is still a competent product. It may still how ever not be the one a lot of fans want or will appreciate due to its inconsistency with the previous titles in the series. For both of those reasons, if you still have some interest in the game, you could do with letting the price drop, would be my only advice. It is regardless though, a good package. You’ve got a short, stylistic campaign that offers a solid experience, an un-lockable mini-Campaign as well as some really strong online Modes, all coupled with a really sophisticated, huge unlock system. I did enjoy the game, but I don’t think it’s worth the full retail release price as of yet, simply due to most of it’s strength coming from what was great in the previous instalment of the series, as it very much feels like an expansion, rather than an independent game.

    -INTY
    Last edited by Vault Hunter; 04-10-2013 at 12:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Turn around.
    Posts
    1,370
    Oh! Surprised I forgot to mention it, the game is split-screen compatible. If you're like myself and Hannah, that's something you may want to consider

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
    Erhm
    bah **** it, I'm replacing it for New Year anyway


  3. #3
    Prosecuting with style Vyse the Legend's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    12,660
    Very nicely done Inty, that must have taken you ages to write up though haha.

    Can't really disagree with anything you said, think it sums up most of my own thoughts pretty well. Was trying to see if there was anything aspect you didn't cover, and the only one, (all be it, I could have missed), I would also add, is how during the campaign the game will change the type of enemies thrown at you. So from what was simply an attitude of, "well a Boomer comes from here, so we should go here and...", will now have say a Mauler instead the next time, which does help to keep things a little fresh.

    However the catch that I've found, is that they only have 2, 3 maximum, different waves of attack. And reloading the checkpoint or dying changes from one to the other. So I was easily able to checkpoint something to get the enemies I wanted, which sure is rather cheap, but you shouldn't really be allowed to do that if you ask me.

    Apart from that, think you covered everything else really well. I would likely give the game a 7 myself, but there's no denying whilst it's a good game, it's nothing spectacular in any regard. Though I think anyone who was coming into this game thinking there would be, was SLIGHTLY optimistic.

  4. #4
    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Turn around.
    Posts
    1,370
    Quote Originally Posted by Vyse the Legend View Post
    Very nicely done Inty, that must have taken you ages to write up though haha.

    Can't really disagree with anything you said, think it sums up most of my own thoughts pretty well. Was trying to see if there was anything aspect you didn't cover, and the only one, (all be it, I could have missed), I would also add, is how during the campaign the game will change the type of enemies thrown at you. So from what was simply an attitude of, "well a Boomer comes from here, so we should go here and...", will now have say a Mauler instead the next time, which does help to keep things a little fresh.
    Ah, this is indeed the case, I was going to mention it but I managed to forget it in my writings
    Aye though, the writing part didn't take too long honestly, 2 days work, separated for needing to give the multi-player modes a brief traipse =)

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
    Erhm
    bah **** it, I'm replacing it for New Year anyway


  5. #5
    Prosecuting with style Vyse the Legend's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    12,660
    Ah 2 days isn't too bad then, thought it might have took longer than that given the amount of detail you put into it.

    Out of interest, are you the only person who presumably re-reads what you wrote, just to check it makes sense etc, or do you have anyone else like say Hannah, give a second opinion before you finish?

  6. #6
    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Turn around.
    Posts
    1,370
    Quote Originally Posted by Vyse the Legend View Post
    Ah 2 days isn't too bad then, thought it might have took longer than that given the amount of detail you put into it.

    Out of interest, are you the only person who presumably re-reads what you wrote, just to check it makes sense etc, or do you have anyone else like say Hannah, give a second opinion before you finish?
    Ah well Hannah has to post my reviews for me due to my limited capabilities on here, so I also ask her to proof-reed, she's been a big help to my reviews in that regard =). I would like to give her a creditary in them but she says she didn't want them bless her

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
    Erhm
    bah **** it, I'm replacing it for New Year anyway


  7. #7
    New Member silkroadgame's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Room 801, Building A, Ying Da Li Tech Digital Park, Fu Tian free trade zone, Shenzhen, china
    Posts
    26
    This is really a wonderful article about Gears of War,and this game series are always catching my eyes!

  8. #8
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    n/a
    Posts
    1
    Thanks for starting that topic.

  9. #9
    New Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Pakistan
    Posts
    12
    Thanks for this nice review =)

    I am going to get my copy of Gears of War: Judgement today.

  10. #10
    Very nice review. I see that you've put some very big effort into it.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •