Story

The biggest draw of the Gears franchise for me has always been the story and the many layers it has. Even though this game is a prequel I appreciated the time taken to cultivate the relationship between Baird and his squad mates, in particular Augustus “Cole Train” Cole.  The earlier part of the game is a composed of flashbacks which sets the tone and lets players know about the threat posed by Karn. One of the new additions for this game are the declassified variables in each mission that alter the missions' difficulty but yield rewards throughout the game. I did a few declassified missions as I progressed, but like I said they were really there to alter missions but added no value to the overall story. The overall campaign was good but definitely lacked the polish of the deeper storytelling of previous Gears games. All the missions were basically firefights, and with the exception of the final boss. They lacked those holy s**t moments made famous by the previous games such as fighting the Brumak or other epic boss battles in that vein. I also wished we they could have fleshed out Paduk and Sofia’s characters a bit more. After competing the campaign, you get to play the Aftermath campaign which reunites you with Paduk and takes place during Gears of War 3. I actually felt this mini-campaign was better than the one in Judgement. Sometimes this game felt more akin to DLC and less like a standalone title which is a complaint I've been seeing online a lot. The ending was the biggest letdown and I actually captured the final boss battle and ending to see if you guys agree that the ending fell flat.

Graphics

The graphics in the Gears series have always been a highpoint and Gears of War: Judgment was no exception. Character sprites were crisp and extremely detailed with every detail of the COG armor being shown. There were instances when a lot of enemies were on-screen that you could see some degradation. This was apparent with Locust enemies and less with the main characters. Gears 3 definitely had the best visuals and the differences become apparent most in the Aftermath campaign.

Controls

There some noticeable changes to the controls in this game, but to me they just took a bit of adjustment and it was smooth sailing. Some compare the controls to Call of Duty which as a non-seasoned COD player is tough for me to confirm. The addition of the ledge drop down was surprising and I honestly didn’t think it was a must have as a veteran Gears player.

Online

While I am not a big Gears online player, I decided to try the online portion of the game for review purposes. The first thing that bummed me out was the lack of Horde Mode which was one of the few components from the previous games I enjoyed. Couple the loss of Horde Mode with the removal of Grenade tag and Gnasher battle and the multiplayer takes an even bigger nosedive. Since I am not driven by multiplayer, it was something that did not bother me as much as it did other players. I also felt that the overall depth of the multiplayer left much to be desired and felt more like COD and Halo multiplayer and not like the original experience shown in previous Gears titles.

Overall

It pains me to say that this Gears title would have probably fared better as DLC and not as a sixty dollar standalone title. The loss of the original creative team that made Gears a household name was apparent as soon as gamers hit start on the main screen. It really is a shame that a series with as many accolades as Gears would resort to cash grab tactics by releasing what really was a DLC campaign with sub par multiplayer. If you are a Gears fan that has been on the fence about this title I recommend a rental at best and if you set aside a few hours on a weekend you can probably breeze thorough the campaign.

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