Friday, 10 May 2013

Let the Gears be the judgement of that!

Gears of War Judgement

One Xbox 360's most famous exclusive series is back, Gears of War Judgement is the first game in the series that Epic have given it's People Can Fly division (the guys behind the amazing Bulletstorm) a chance to create. The game is a prequel in the storyline to the main GeOW trilogy which ended with the incredible Gears of War 3 finale. It tells the story of a court case to Kilo Squad, where Baird is commander and Cole is one of his soldiers. It's a nice break from a Marcus driven story, and much like GeOW3's DLC story "RAAM's Shadow" you get to see how other squads operate. It gives a bigger picture of the struggle against the Locust throughout the series.

Judgement breaks new territory in how the game is built up. The story revolves around this court case I mentioned, in which Kilo Squad are trailed. Each member of the squad tells his/her story and so the main chapters of the game are told from their testimony in the court. Each testimony is divided in missions. Within each mission you can earn up to three stars for how well you complete the level, within each level there is an extra mission that helps you gather these stars quicker if you activate it. Beware though, these missions usually add an extra difficulty level...

Kilo Squad, with Baird as the main commander.
The extra missions add an entertaining variety and they are integrated into the story; one may be that the level is covered in fog, making it really hard to see enemies before they are really close and the main character telling their testimony will add a sentence like "the fog was lying thick that day etc." Other missions will be that you are restricted to only a certain type of weapon or a time schedule for instance. Apart from the timed ones I really enjoyed these missions and actually liked the star rating system. It did break of some of the continuity to the story, but it also help distance the game from the previous GeOW trilogy and making a new fresh idea of it's own. Innovation and adding something new is important for a game that is the fourth in the series on one console.

Gears of War is always fun to play thanks to the amazing gameplay.
People Can Fly have dared to mix things up a little with the Gears gameplay. Don't worry though, the feeling and character movement that we all love from the GeOW series is alive and kicking, reminding me of just how perfect and smooth all GeOW games feel to play. What's changed though, is the button layout. They only allow you to carry two weapons, so you no longer have the ability to carry a side arm as well as two main weapons (like a Lancer rifle and a Gnasher Shotgun for instance).

A side arm then, will act like a full second weapon and these two main weapons can be switched with the Y (yellow) button very quickly. It's like the way Call of Duty 4 introduced with a quick switch for your side arm or any second weapon of your choice. It helps make GeOW Judgement's controller layout more like other shooters. I didn't mind the old layout, but this change doesn't bother me really and helps keep my hands on the joysticks while swapping weapons. In a similar fashion the grenade has been given it's own dedicated button.

The enemies show no remorse and attack savagely!
Kill 'em all!
GeOW Judegement looks a  lot like Gears of War 3, it keeps the far more varied colour palette, while revisiting some of the darker looking art and location style from the original GeOW. The resulting combination is looks fantastic. The game adds some beautiful, almost medieval European city like locations, with crammed, cobble stone streets and brick houses. The game looks beautiful and has some amazing effects, especially fire looks incredible, while running really smoothly and steadily on 30fps. This smoothness helps the great gameplay feel even more satisfying and is essential when lots of enemies appear. Sometimes the game really pushes multiple enemies at you and chaos occurs, thanks to the tight controls and precise gameplay these dramatic scenes feel incredibly fun.

The game has incredible atmosphere in it's locations.
Summarized this game feels like Halo 3: ODST did; an addition to the main story and game series. However, just like ODST, it adds a lot of new and really entertaining additions that mix the well proven formula up and adds fresh ideas which are welcome after a whole trilogy of games. A great GeOW game for the fans waiting for the next installment which will probably arrive on the next Xbox.



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