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Review: Gears of War:Judgement, an emotionless series of events

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Gears of War: Judgement, the prequel to the immensely popular Gears of War trilogy, takes up the heavy reigns of its predecessors in attempts to grapple the series onto a new path. The directional shift can be viewed as the influence of the new developers to the Gears universe, People Can Fly. They have managed to set a tone of rebellion in a multi-layered fashion. This has been accomplished by going against the norms of the Gears of War saga as well as trying to tell the story of rebellion, in relation to the impending trial of Lieutenant Baird and the rest of Kilo squad. 

Story

Gears of War: Judgment takes place just after 'emergence day', where the alien horde (Locusts) rose up from the crust of planet Sera to seek revenge on their human counterparts. It is now up to the COG (Coalition of Gears) soldiers to defend the world from impeding destruction. One of the most important areas to protect was the land of Halvo Bay, which acted as a civilian bastion as well as an academy and base for the COG. Halvo Bay has been under threat from General Karn who takes the role as the main antagonist for the title. 

With an enemy in place, it is up to Kilo squad to save Halvo Bay. Kilo squad, however, have got themselves into a sticky situation. They are facing an impending trial from Colonel Ezra Lumis, who seems to be less than impressed with the latest of their activities.

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Halvo Bay under siege from the Locust army

Throughout the campaign you play through the several roles of Kilo squad, each recollecting their past experience through testimonies that eventually led them to the trial with Lumis. The individual testimonies act as chapters throughout the campaign. The story development allows for a  refreshing way in which to tell the past experience of the four individuals. Some of the dialog, however, between testimonies lacked the necessary depth to make you feel anything for the characters. Which is rare for a Gears of War series, especially with the depth of emotion that was encapsulated by Gears of War 3

Gears of War:Judgement has also used several new methods in which to drive the story away from the traditional and towards a more achievement/rewards based campaign. This is due to the new star rating system that has been introduced. 

New additions

Star System, gone wrong

The star system works on the principle of the better you do in the campaign, the more stars you earn. To increase your chances of receiving a higher star rating, you can choose to access the hidden testimonials within the campaign missions. These missions are indicated by red glowing COG signs on the walls at the beginning of the individual levels. The hidden testimonials up the difficulty of the missions by creating time limits as well as weapon constraints. The added testimonials was meant to add to the story of the campaign but also to create a burden for the player. By enforcing the star system, they have had to break the campaign into small fragments. Thus, at the beginning of every level you have to accept the testimonial and at the end of the level you have to hit a button to continue to the next section.

Once you have finished the level you receive a full stats list of all your level accomplishments, which is something I personally didn't want. It started to make the missions feel like a chore as opposed to a meaningful experience of events in the story development. Yes, some of the missions were more fun as the result of hidden testimonials, but why not just leave those moments in the game rather than make them as a choice. They also detract from the surprise that you would receive from in game events as you would read exactly what was going to happen to you before it takes place. In Aftermath, the unlock-able extra campaign, the star system was put away, and I can say without a shadow of doubt that I enjoyed it more because of that fact.

Very Smart Spawn System

Another addition to the Gears of War: Judgement campaign was the inclusion of the 'Smart Spawn System' (S3). The S3 was really impressive, as it meant that if you died and had to play a mission again that there was a chance you would face completely different opponents. Which kept me on my toes at all times because you never new what was about to jump out of the next emergence hole.

Graphics, thumbs up

Graphically it must be said that the large scale scenarios in the game have really come in to their own. The world of Sera just seems more colorful in the Gears of War: Judgement. The graphical enhancements plays a counter to soot and gloom of Gears of War 3, which makes you feel more for the world of Sera as it is under impending attack from both forces (I'm environmentally conscious okay, *wink*) . There is also substantial graphical improvements to the cut scenes. 

Closing thoughts

Where's my boss?

Where there was huge variety in the types of enemies you faced from level to level, there was another side to the story that didn't impress me as much as previous Gears campaigns; the boss battles. In previous Gears of War campaigns the boss battles were always the most entertaining of events in the campaign. From seeing a Corpser in the first Gears of War to ripping out the hearts of the giant riftworm in Gears of War 2. The boss battles were always memorable. However, Judgment seems to have just reused old types of opposition with nothing really sticking or leaving an impression. 

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General doesn't like you

Conclusion

There have been a few welcome additions to the Gears of War campaign, such as the smart spawn system and graphical enhancements. Yet I still feel that, even with the graphical improvements, something was lost in Gears of War Judgement. The campaign that has tried its utmost to be unique but completely failed in doing so. If anything it has become too familiar and an emotionless series of events. Even the characters seem to be emotionless to the events that transpire throughout the campaign. This makes it difficult to commit to the story, especially when coming off the high expectations of its predecessors.

Next up, I will be covering the multiplayer that has some Gears fans shaking with excitement and others running straight for the hills! 

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