Late yesterday I posted up my experience with the brand new Gears of War: Judgement survival mode which was the biggest surprise from my hands on experience with the game in Poland. However I was also treated to some levels of the standard campaign and the secret Aftermath levels
We were given a little speech about the game and then led into a room filled with 42” Samsung TV’s, Tritton headsets and comfy chairs. I did a quick look through the menu’s and noticed that the Gore and Language filters are still there which I think should exist in all games.
You can also customise your multiplayer character here with a choice of armours, skins and the like but that wasn’t the purpose of today so I switched back to the main menu and loaded up a game on Normal setting.
Gears of War: Judgement is set entirely in a court room setting right in the middle of a huge locust battle.
You play as Baird who has been brought before the court to answer for crimes committed on duty. However at this point we don’t know what any of these crimes may be and the game plays out as Baird and his fellow colleagues testify.
The beginning of every level starts the same with one of the characters starting to testify and then you are transported into the game as that player and you basically play out the testimony. If nothing it’s an original way to jump between places and times without the constraints of time and logic holding you down.
Right up you’ll find that some of the controls have changed with weapon swap now being controlled with a hit of the Y button and left bumper is used to throw those all important grenades. However besides that the game is still obviously Gears of War, the characters are still hulking brutes and roadie runs, cover diving and shotguns to the face are the order of the day.
I felt that Baird was smaller than in previous series but I was assured by the developers that this wasn’t the case and they haven’t trimmed down the characters in response to player feedback.
One thing I did notice however is that the action is a little more frenetic than in the past and this can be down to the amount of active characters on screen at any one time. It was Gears of War 2 that first put hundreds of characters on screen but they were in the distance and more of a technical showcase than truly part of the game.
Now you are going to be fighting hundreds of locusts at once but there will be a lot and they all have their own unique AI and will move separately from each other. I would say the AI is about as good as before with some glitches that I saw but in general they will avoid having their head taken off and try lay down cover fire for each other.
What has drastically changed however is the new smart spawn system. Now instead of the enemies spawning in the same place every time they will spawn dynamically and randomly which makes multiple plays an entirely new experience. It also makes those big set battles so much harder to conquer.
The levels are the same length as in previous games with the developers claiming that the play through time will be exactly the same as previous games which clock in around the 8 hour mark for standard gaming. But they’ve made a big change to Judgement that will increase that gameplay time.
For the first time they have now added a star system to each stage, the premise is simple really. You get rated for how well you completed the stage. Bronze, Silver, Gold and Onyx depending on your difficulty level and then 1-3 stars depending on whether you completed all the options and declassified missions.
You can then showcase your results to your friends, meaning that if that loudmouth told you he completed the game in 7 hours on Insane it really is quite simple to verify. Did he speed run on Bronze or did he really dominate the title?
“Declassified missions? What are those?”
I’m so glad you asked that question dear random Internet reader… let me explain.
As you can see from the screenshot above, you will often come across these huge COG symbols on the wall and if you approach them you get to choose to play the mission in a different way.
The example above means you need to complete the mission using only the Boomshields and Lancers. So no grenades and snipers for you.
It’s a nice touch and for those gamers not interested in 100% completion it makes very little difference but for the rest of you it means you need to play each stage twice in a completely different way to get the full experience. Add that to the smart spawn system and you are pretty much doubling the campaign length straight of the bat.
Another nice addition to the star system is that if you are a run and gun type of person who often goes down and needs reviving then you are going to struggle to get 3 stars as the game remembers that. Gears is a tactical shooter and it should be treated as such.
As before you will be given the chance to use a huge variety of weapons with some great new additions added to this title. Some of the new weapons that I used are
The Booshka is a UIR grenade launcher that fires bouncing grenades and in the hands of the expert grenadier it can be deadly.. in my hands it’s deadly to my team mates only
The Breechshot is one of my favourite new weapons, it holds 4 bullets per clip and fires insanely powerful shots and has an axe on the other end for awesome melee fun.
The Markza is a mid ranged semiautomatic sniper rifle, so pretty much just like the long shot except its for use over smaller distances and you don’t reload every time. Awesome weapon for mid ranged fighting again multiple enemies.
Beacon and Stim Grenades
There are two new grenades being added to the title with Beacon grenades acting like a sonar showing you enemy units hiding behind walls and such like.
Stim grenades are used to revive or refresh team mates and really I can only see their use in multiplayer
Okay fine the Silverback isn’t new but it’s back and it really is just so much fun mowing down hordes of Locusts in this beast of a machine…
“Okay that all sounds great but Gavin is it good?”
Thank you once again random voice in my head…
Good is a subjective term really so lets mention the bad parts before deciding.
First up the AI of your team mates can be annoying, they will often jump in front of you during a fight and then shout at you for shooting them.
The cut scenes aren’t dynamic, so when I finish with a shotgun the next moment I’m in a cutscene with a Lancer
The hit tracking appears wrong, while a Locust was climbing over a wall I shot him in the foot and HEADSHOT…
Sometimes point blank shots just didn’t appear to register.
So that’s what’s wrong with it.. but what about what is right with it.
Everything else, it was an awesome experience having hands on time with the next title in the Gears series and unless the rest of the game is absolute garbage I cannot see how this game isn’t going to be absolutely adored by Gears fans and the general gaming public at large.
In fact I’m so excited about the faulty hit tracking as that really is what made the original Gears one of my favourite titles of all time.
Also there is nothing as satisfying as that sound it makes when you headshot a Locust in a closely fought battle.
Gears of War: Judgement releases only on the Xbox 360 on the 22nd of March
Last Updated: March 5, 2013