Gears of War: Judgment will be released tomorrow in North America and at the end of the week in Europe, but since we got our copy of the game a bit in advance, we were able to capture a few videos of the single player campaign for you guys. The major problem with this fourth installment is that there really is nothing new in the different situations you will encounter. Even story-wise, you won't learn anything new or particularly interesting, so the main incentive to play is really to kill more and more grubs. Enough introductory talk, if you want to know more about what we think of the game and want to check out our videos, come inside!
Gamersyde Review summary
There is one thing that struck us when we started playing Gears of War: Judgment: People Can Fly made the pace of the game a bit faster. It can be seen in the way cover is now used, as it seems a bit less important than in the past (especially in normal mode), but also in the possibility to switch weapons with Y and to throw grenades instantaneously with LB. The new scoring system and the declassified missions bring some replay value to the game too, since the missions change dramatically when the declassified mode is activated. You can see it for yourself in our video below (the only one captured in hardcore mode by the way). It is still Gears of War but it has become even more brutal than before, with waves of enemies thrown at you in each level, making each stand more heroic than the one before.
On the downside, because there are so many Tower and Defense sequences, there isn't as much variety as in the previous episodes, with almost no memorable nor original moments to get excited for. No giant big worm like in Gears of War 2 for example, only massive ground battles with a lot of Locusts to take out. This lack of variety can also be found in the environments themselves, which nonetheless look gorgeous thanks to great lighting effects. The artistic direction may be as strong as ever but we can't help but feel it's all a bit deja vu. Sound-wise, Judgment is faithful to the series so there really is nothing to complain about in that area. One of the things you should know though, is that the game seems much easier overall, which means the single player campaign won't last very long if you play in normal mode. Thankfully, you can unlock Aftermath with the stars earned in the different missions (playing declassified missions will give you more of those).
Aftermath is set during the events of Gears of War 3, when Marcus and Dom ask Baird and Cole to find a boat and some backup. Oddly enough, this bonus content feels a lot closer to the third episode than to Judgment in the way it's played. The new grenade system has been implemented, along with the new weapon switching mode, yet there is a stronger family tie with Gears 3, making the atmosphere more interesting than the rest of the single player campaign. The presence of human lambents changes the way you approach combat as they are very fast and agile and they also bring a sort of survival atmosphere on certain occasions. Aftermath is also more varied in terms of situations and it's more solid narratively speaking, so although it's not very long, it adds great value to the whole package. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the game includes a code to download the first Gears of War, should you want to spend more time with Marcus and the others.
And then there's multiplayer, with the standard possibility to play the campaign mode with up to three friends, and of course the competitive modes. Horde has been replaced by Survival Mode, which consists in defending strategic points with up to four other players. This mode puts you up against AI controlled Locusts and includes classes for the first time in the franchise: engineer, soldier, scout and medic. Each class is obviously important and team work is clearly encouraged if you want to win. The multiplayer mode which really stands out is the new OverRun Mode, where two teams of up to five players fight against each other. Again, classes are of paramount importance here, as the CGU members will have to protect an area making sure the fortifications prevent the Locusts from getting too close. When playing the bad guys, you also get the opportunity to play any of the grubs species you find in single player, which is fun.