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Gears of War Judgment Review
Gears of War: Judgment is the fourth game in the Gears of War series. Exclusive to XBox 360, Judgment takes place before the first Gears of War. It stars series regular characters Damon Baird and "Cole Train" Augustus Cole as their Kilo Squad is on trial for war crimes. Gone are series regulars Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago, although you do hear Fenix's voice over radio intercom.
The majority of the single player campaign takes place as flashbacks of testimony by Kilo Squad at their trial. They are on trial for activating a lightmass bomb without approval. The story then weaves it's way into it's present so the group can fight the main villain Karn after the trial. Karn is new to the series, but doesn't get much screen time. He seemed badass though. Players can play the campaign solo or with up to three other friends.
The core mechanics of the game hold true for the most part to the past games in the series, but long time fans may be frustrated with now only being able to swap between two weapons. In Gears 1-3, you could swap between three. Everything else you remember from a Gears game is present. Even though Epic Games brought in a second developer to help with this game, it is not apparent in the mechanics.
New to the series are earning stars for your performance on a level. The more things you accomplish, like headshots and executions, the more stars you get. If you choose to do the new Declassified Missions, a challenge is added to the level to make it harder. However, the stars are earned faster. The choice is up to the player. If you get forty or more stars, you unlock a second campaign which takes place during Gears of War 3. This was a nice addition to the game.
Horde mode has been replaced with Survival mode. It's 10 waves only and uses class based soldiers. The objective is to defend a closed Emergence Hole. It's different and you need different strategies than Horde to survive, but long time fans may just turn back to Gears 3 (or even 2) to get their Horde fix.
Versus Mode has added Free for All for the first time in the series. Team Deathmatch returns, along with a few new modes that are fun to play. OverRun is like the Survival mode, except it's two teams instead of waves of A.I.
There are new weapons which seem Russian, like the Markza and Booshka, but play towards new character Garron Paduk's affiliation. All the old favorites from the Lancer to the Longshot are present. Grenades are easier to toss. Instead of hitting up on the d-pad like previous games to select the grenade, all you have to do is use LB. Grenades play an important role in this game with all the emergence holes you have to close.
The graphics and textures are the best I have seen on a Gears game. Even with the upgraded look, you can still tell the game takes place before Gears of War. See, it is possible to do this, George Lucas.
Gears of War: Judgment continues the success of the franchise. Hopefully there are more Gears games to come.
8.5 out of 10