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    dkirschner's Gears of War: Judgment (360)

    [December 3, 2013 12:14:44 PM]
    Overall impression of Judgment: easy grab by Epic to sustain multiplayer through the end of the current console generation

    Recommended for: die-hard fans of multiplayer GoW

    Being the single-player oriented person I am, I was disappointed by this prequel. The story takes place through a series of recollections by 4 Gears who are on trial for detonating a massive weapon to attempt to kill a Locust leader and save a relatively small number of people. The game begins in the present, at the trial, and each chapter of the game is one of the Gears's testimonies. It's a neat way to tell the narrative, and it was further enhanced by the option to make missions harder through altering the memories of the Gears. So for example, at the beginning of each little stage (the ~5-15 minute sequences that comprise each testimony) you can click an icon somewhere in the environment to add some details to the testimony. Instead of just doing the mission normally, the character will testify like "We were unprepared for the smoke bomb traps the Locust scattered around that really reduced our vision." In that case, there are smoke bombs throughout the level and you can't see but 5 feet in front of you. Or, "The Locust are smarter than we thought," in which case maybe the Locust flank you from the rear. All variety of things to make the stage more challenging. Limiting guns or ammo, setting a time limit, more tough enemies, sentry turrets and laser defense grids...The downside to the cool narrative structure was that it didn't impact the story at all. No one cares whether there were smoke bombs or flanking enemies or whether or not you had to use only pistols. Doesn't change the story at all, and the guy putting you on trial doesn't say or do a thing differently.

    After a while, I realized why the narrative didn't change: because this game is all about multiplayer, achievements, badges, stars, ratings, unlocks...taking on extra challenges just nets more stars, a way of quantifying mission rating. I was bummed out, but I kept taking the challenges anyway because they were fun. The only kind I didn't like were the timed ones because the environments are so damn beautiful that I hated running through them without pausing to admire!

    The best part of the game was actually after the campaign when I unlocked a special series of missions that happened before Gears of War 3. That section played like the trilogy, and not like Judgment, as in the action wasn't as broken up, no focus on stars or whatever, felt more epic in scope than the entire main campaign. The story was not as forgettable, or rather, the action in it, although it really highlighted another weakness in the game's storytelling. The characters are real dull in Judgment. The trilogy did an awesome job (especially 2 and 3) of building characters, making them experience loss, providing backstory, giving them motivations and so on. This one...eeeeh. And at the end of this bonus level, one of the characters, Paduk, starts going on and on about his motivations and some girl named Sophia or something. I was like "who the hell is he talking about?" and I looked it up later and it was the girl Gear who had been in the regular Judgment campaign. I didn't even know her name! Nor did I know that she and Paduk had any sort of relationship whatsoever! Why not set that up better?

    The main campaign doesn't add much new to the series. The story itself is forgettable, even though its form is novel, and unfortunately the focus on ratings and achievements just puts it even more firmly in the back seat. I think there was one new enemy only, this sort of medium-long range rifle unit that when shot too much turns into a berserker and charges. They added one unit, but removed TONS of other awesome ones. I guess it makes sense chronologically, but it's lame because the trilogy had some badass enemies. It did the same with weapons. It added one or two rifles and some defense turrets and tripwires (this is another way the single-player was like multiplayer -- there were lots of "defend your position from waves of enemies" levels where you set up and maintain defenses like in Horde mode)...and the game removed other badass weapons from the trilogy.

    Another lame thing is that throughout the whole game, there was only one boss fight. It was good enough, but nothing special. Some of the boss fights from the trilogy I still remember clearly. This one...shoot it a lot, it retreats to a rooftop and spawns regular enemies. Kill them, boss comes down, shoot it a lot...Oh look, there's a glowing weak spot...shoot it a lot. It retreats to a rooftop and spawns enemies...repeat until dead.

    There were also a few bugs throughout, mostly involving enemies not dying properly, not spawning properly, and the game not moving forward once all the enemies were dead (or seemed dead). A couple times a cinematic would begin, but there would still be enemies right next to the Gears, and they would just kind of run along with us. It was weird. Another time near the end of the extra mission, there was an enemy who hadn't spawned properly. He was either on top of this boat that I couldn't see or get to, or he was stuck in the ground or the rubble in the corner of the map. At least that's where his constant shouting of "Hostiles!" kept coming from. I could never find him and had to restart. It worked correctly the next time.

    Back to eBay! I'll just play Gears of War 3 if I get the hankering for some multiplayer action.
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    dkirschner's Gears of War: Judgment (360)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 26 November, 2013

    GameLog closed on: Monday 2 December, 2013

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Don't think it'll be as good as the original trilogy, but hopefully still good! ---------------- It was ok. Dull story and characters, though told in novel fashion. Action felt VERY multiplayer-ish.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstar

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