Gears of War: Judgment is the fourth instalment in the Gears of War franchise, surprisingly though it is a prequel to the original 2006 Gears of War. This time we will not be charging around Sera as Marcus Fenix or Domonic Santiago instead Damon Baird and Augustus Cole (Cole Train baby!) take centre stage. Which is fitting really since Epic Games have handed over development of the campaign to Polish, Bulletstorm developers People Can Fly. Meaning that Epic Games minus Rod Fergusson and Cliff Bleszinski will once again be responsible for multiplayer.
As stated before the story takes place before the first game, fourteen years to be exact and only a few weeks after Emergence Day. Taking the place of Delta Squad is Kilo squad, which contains familiar faces. Damon Baird heads up Kilo along with Augustus Cole. Two new faces also join the roster. Garron Paduk, a militia refugee from the UIR, and Sophia Hendrik, a cadet from the Onyx Guard Academy.
The story goes that Kilo Squad have been court marshalled by the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) on account of treason for stealing experimental COG technology in a battle against the Locust at Havlo Bay.
We know that there will be a new protagonist in the game in the form of the Kantus Monk, General Karn. Karn, pre-dates fan favourite General RAAM and Skorge from previous Gears games. It is also unknown whether Queen Myrrah will make an appearance in the campaign.
There are some changes in multiplayer for this game which a lot of vocal fans disagree with. The signature Gears mechanic, Down But Not Out, has been removed which ultimately cuts out executions and revives from multiplayer. Unfortunately, this also means that some game modes, including fan favourites like Execution and Guardian, have been removed. Also you now cannot play as the Locust in versus games as. Epic were quoted as saying “fans found it difficult to relate to them” leaving Epic with the option of using a Red vs. Blue system for multi-player matches. A few changes which many fans seem to be excited about includes the removal of stopping power and active reloads, both of which made rifles a very commanding force in the Gears of War 3.
Horde mode, from Gears of War 2 was a game type that every other game since has been trying to re-create. It was seen as the pinnacle of innovation at the time due to it being executed so well. It has also been removed from the Judgement playlist. Granted the Gears of War 3 version of Horde was watered down with all the fortifications as players enjoyed the gritty nature of Horde in Gears 2 defending a single area behind some sandbags and a shield. This is backed up by Horde having the highest player base in Gears 2 and ranked somewhere near the top in Gears 3.
In place of Horde mode comes Overrun which is being described as a blend of Horde vs Beast. Overrun, is effectively a fusion of Gears 3 Horde and Beast modes, it pits players against one another, either storming the base as the Locust, or manning the defensive perimeter as COG soldiers. A true game of cat and mouse it would appear. Currently only four COG character classes have been announced.
- Engineer - Gnasher load-out. Equips blowtorch to repair fortifications. Can deploy sentry turret for added defence.
- Solider – Lancer and Booshka (UIR weapon). Able to deploy ammo crates for team mates.
- Medic – Lancer and snub pistol. Ability to heal team mates via stim grenades.
- Scout – Markza (UIR sniper-rifle) and snub pistol. Able to get into unique sniper positions and tag enemies with beacons.
For fans who pre-order Gears of War: Judgment at participating retailers, will receive an exclusive in-game multiplayer weapon at launch, the six shot classic Hammerburst. This is exclusively unlocked when you pre-order the game. Also the exclusive pre-order multiplayer character skins will be Young Marcus Fenix, Young Domonic Santiago, Anya Stroud and extended universe fan favourite Alex Brand.
Gears of War: Judgment releases worldwide on March 19th 2013 for the Xbox 360.