‘Gears of War: Judgment’ faster, bloodier, and better than the rest

Josh Henry, Design Editor

The always magical Gears of War franchise returns with gore and violence galore. Judgment is the prequel to the first three Gears of War games, but it offers an entirely new spin on the series, taking the slow gameplay to a faster, more exciting level.
The story in Judgment begins at the end. The player starts as Lt. Damon Baird on trial for treason against the Coalition of Ordered Governments. Baird testifies that during the first year of the Locust War, with humanity being slaughtered, he and Kilo squad discovered that the Locust general planned to destroy Halvo Bay. Kilo squad decided to use the Lightmass missile (the equivalent of a nuke without the fallout) against the order of their commanding officer.
For the first time in the series, the campaign is experienced through flashbacks, rather than unfolding as the player moves through an ever-evolving story. It is a challenging, competitive, and fun way to play with friends. But when playing alone, it is ridiculously frustrating because the A.I. allies in your squad are a bunch of morons with chain saws and knives. The experience is boosted by “declassified” missions that make the game more challenging. They implement scenarios where players may only use certain weapons or are blinded by smoke or roaring winds. The reward for doing these missions is in game content, such as dialogue that would not be heard otherwise. Another advantage to doing declassified missions is that players accumulate stars by which he or she gains achievements or unlockable multiplayer characters and skins.
Why is Judgment different from any other Gears? Speed. Speed has become the most deadly force in Judgment. Little things like reloading or picking up weapons faster, or even just moving faster, has infused new life into this already stellar series of games. Many players may find that the adjustment to a much faster, Call-of-Duty style of gameplay takes some getting used to. Epic Games took a chance releasing a game that does not play like the others in the series, but the reward is a truly exciting change that is worth the $60.
Judgment allows players to enjoy the violent world of online multiplayer, where players can dominate and humiliate their opponents. Judgment has brought the domination and free-for-all game modes to the series. In domination, players contend to control separate areas on the map for short periods of time, and in free-for-all players fight without teammates. The multiplayer is not new, but it is different. In this case, different is good.
Gears of War: Judgment is not the best game in the series, but it is new. Epic Games not only made several changes to gameplay, but it also put out a different game with the great Gears feel. It is still third person, it is still full of the blood and body-part ripping that we have all come to love, but now it is even more fast-paced, allowing even more glorious death. A short, yet challenging, story will give gamers a solid six to eight hours of challenging gameplay with a few friends, while a seriously enhanced multiplayer mode will provide endless hours of explosive fun. This game is definitely worth a four of four stars and is a must-buy for the upcoming summer season.