Gears of War: Judgment

When I first played the original Gears of War I was blown away.  The graphics were amazing and the gameplay flowed so well.  The cover based system just worked.  It was a thing of beauty.  But then over the next couple of outings, things were pretty much the same.

And now we have Gears of War: Judgement.  I’m going into the game feeling pretty jaded, I really don’t want to play another Gears of War game.  I’m over the tried and tested cover system of a third person shooter, and I’m certainly over Microsoft’s instance of releasing games where I have to kill some invading aline force.

Fortunately, I’m lucky enough to be able to Co-op with Urbankiwi, so at least the banter will be entertaining.

The surprising thing with Judgement, is how good it looks.  This tired old piece of technology that is about to be replaced, is still pumping out some amazing visuals as developers learn to push the final few ounces of power out of her tired system.  I shouldn’t be surprised really, if it’s something I’ve learnt about Microsoft games is that they always look pretty.

The game-play however is just as expected, but with a few nice tweaks that should please fans of the series and newcomers alike.

More effort seems to be have been placed on the story-line, with the opening cinematic showing what happens at the end of the game.  Basically you and your squad are up on charges to gross misconduct.  It tries hard to give the feeling that you’re a bit of a renegade that had to break the rules to do what you though needed to get done.  The trouble is the story premise is just far too cliched, and the character hauling us up and laying his judgement on us is too obviously some jacked up chickenshit General with a bug up his behind.  It might work well on the games target market, but for a gamer who has gown up with video games, it’s just stupid and make me care-less about the story-line.

It does give the narrative the interesting twist of being a series of flashback however.

The game-play pretty much dissolves into going along a pre-defined path, meeting some resistance, fighting through the resistance, clearing out the area and then having to hold the area against two waves of enemies.  Rinse and repeat.

The interesting new features include the Declassified option.  This allows you to choose weather t accept a handicap for the level you’re about to enter, allowing you to ear more stars – or keep it normal.  The handicaps range from limited ammo, poor visibility to limited weapon choices or harder to kill enemies.  It’s a nice little touch, but if you’re too scared of making things harder, it does nothing for the game.   During the defend or die end of level sequences, you also get turrets and other defensive options to deploy – and repair as the swam threatens to overrun.  

The level design, whilst confined by the attack and defend mentality of the game is quite good, and the AI not too dumb that it will out flank you if you’re stupid enough to let it.

Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly have brought some much needed fresh ideas to the Gears of War world, but if you didn’t enjoy the previous games, it’s not going to make much of a difference.  This is one for the fans, or newbies looking for an alternative to the glut of first person shooters.  It’s a solid game, that deserves the praise it’s received, it’s just not my cup of tea.


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