Gears of War: Judgment
Gears of War: Judgment Campaign Hands-On Preview – Night at the Museum
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I’ve got to admit, it’s rather odd – especially with a franchise of Gears of War’s stature – that it’s taken us this long to actually get our hands on the campaign portion of the title. Usually, from a cynical games writer’s perspective, that means there’s trouble on the horizon and publishers are nervous about putting it into the hands of us critical monsters. What’s even odder is that after waiting a good nine months to play since the game’s announcement, there doesn’t really seem to be a valid reason to keep it out of the press’ hands.

Let’s get this out the way straight away: Gears of War: Judgment has the typical Gears high presentation values, plays like a Gears game and is a lot of fun. What it isn’t is a title that’s really raising the bar all too much for the franchise, though it does enough to say, “Look! There’s a lot of new stuff, plenty of tweaks and new approaches and we’re looking to deliver incredible value for money.”

Don’t think of it as reinventing the wheel for the Gears franchise, think of it as rounding off of a few edges, adding some rims… and maybe some badass spikes.

Taking centre stage for Gears of War: Judgment are fan favourites, Damon Baird and Augustus Cole, set 14 years before the events portrayed in Gears of War 1. Told via a series of flashbacks, you’ll follow Baird and Kilo squad as they recollect the events that lead up to their incarceration and subsequent trials that precede the game. As a soldier remarks as Baird and co. walk to their trial, it tells the story of how Baird went from lieutenant to war criminal in less than a week.

Our hands-on with the opening chapter of Judgment takes place in and around the Museum of Military Glory as the city crumbles around them and Locust descend upon the streets. It’s your standard Gears of War setting then, and the opening hour or so feels like your traditional Gears of War game.

What makes Judgment unique, and generally makes it feel like the most arcade-orientated Gears game yet is what Epic and People Can Fly are calling “Declassified” missions, indicated by a bright red glowing omen on the walls of every section. They go some way to assisting – and making the game harder – with what’s at the core of Judgment: the three star scoring system. They’re essentially mission changing objectives and scenarios that allow you to accelerate the speed at which you’ll gain stars.

In the opening chapter we were tasked with destroying Serapede eggs that hatched if we didn’t, clearing a room with a Nemacyst thrown in for extra inconvenience, taking down foes with just Locust weaponry and fighting heavier grunts, whether that’s Dark Wretches or Cyclop Drones. Yes, it makes the game harder, and if you don’t complete the objective, like clearing an area in a set amount of time, the outcome is deadly, but they all allow for extra challenges, a slightly different gameplay experience and you can rack up stars quicker. That said, accepting the optional Declassified Mission doesn’t necessarily guarantee you 3 stars, so don’t say you haven’t been warned. It is something of a risk.

It wouldn’t be a new Gears game without new weapons and new gameplay elements, and Judgment has a few new choice mechanics thrown in for good measure. The new simple control tweaks are among the most noticeable. It’s bizarre how being able to change weapons on the fly with the Y button and throwing grenades with the left bumper makes things so much smoother, but it does. Granted, it makes it a little trickier to plant grenades on a wall, but it’s still possible. The big one, for me personally, was what Epic is calling “mobile horde,” which is essentially horde style levels within the campaign – fresh with fortifications too, as well as mobile turrets like the ranged sentinel to help assist you. The new weapons I refer to are the; Markza, a medium-to-long range, medium power, semi-automatic sniper rifle; and the Breechshot, the Locust repurposed scopeless sniper rifle with a blade strapped to the underneath. Both interesting weapons in their own right, but nothing too innovative or game-changing.

Aside from the campaign, which Microsoft is saying will be longer than Gears of War 3, there’s a whole host of other options, especially online. That means things like 1-on-1 deathmatch are in, as well as the already announced OverRun mode, which is class and objective based – attack and defend – and has each team taking control of the Locust and taking it in turns to take down a COG defended target. Guess what? It works and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Balance wise, it didn’t seem like there were any glaring oversights. The extended OverRun mode, which works a lot like Battlefield 3’s Rush mode, was actually the highlight, tasking players with targets that they need to take down to open up their next target.

Gears of War: Judgment as an experience is definitely not an exercise in rewriting the tried-and-tested Gears of War formula, or even changing it up too much. Instead it’s tweaking it somewhat. If we’re being honest, it doesn’t feel like Gears of War 3.5 and feels more like an arcade-orientated spin-off rather than a true advancement for the series. If you were a fan of Gears of War 3’s gameplay, then you’re going to be a fan of this and with that being said, it’s still as impressive in terms cinematics.

With new additions like the campaign mobile horde segments, the more arcadey gameplay, the tweaked (and improved) controls and some of the new multiplayer options like Overrun, there seems to be more than enough to satisfy Gears fan’s needs until a new trilogy in the Gears of War universe emerges.

Check back next month for a more in-depth hands-on preview of Gears of War: Judgment's campaign. You know, when we’ve played a fair bit more of it. Consider this us just whetting your appetite.

Gears of War: Judgment is out March 19th and March 22nd in North America and Europe respectively.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 172
Comment #1 by SnowSHOWERS
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:05:54 PM
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As much as I was thinking of not getting this, I don't think I can pass up the story of Baird and Cole.

Forum Posts: 402
Comment #2 by ademlakey
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:06:35 PM
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Whats the pre-order like in the US? In the UK we get classic marcus and hammerburst, a steel case and digital copy of gears 1.

Forum Posts: 211
Comment #3 by Crims0nPenguin
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:14:40 PM
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@2 Pretty sure its the same here.

Forum Posts: 0
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:19:40 PM
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Kinda nervous about this game, not as much hype over this game like the previous games,plus with the departures at epic,i hope the game delivers.

Forum Posts: 541
Comment #5 by Shipley0110
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:19:44 PM
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@2 are doing an exclusive Limited edition that comes with the game, hammerburst, Alex Brand multiplayer character, artwork postcards, GOW1 and GOW3.

Forum Posts: 1885
Comment #6 by TriRock
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:22:56 PM
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'If you were a fan of Gears of War 3’s gameplay, then you’re going to be a fan of this and with that being said, it’s still as impressive in terms cinematics.'

Thank you, I'm glad to hear that!

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #7 by MilkyTee
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:30:30 PM
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I come here for the previews.
No bullshit, like you'd get with the likes of IGN, or some other such awful site.

You get the pros and the cons and an honest opinion. Kudos for retaining integrity in a space where it is in such short supply.

OT; don't think I'll be getting this game. Like you said, it looks like an easy spin off to bridge the void until the next console and not a meaningful iteration. Doesn't look BAD, just a little uninspired and tired.

Forum Posts: 89
Comment #8 by strawberry
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:33:10 PM
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Too bad the game handles like crap. Got a chance to give the MP a go, felt like I was playing cod in TPS. I'll stick to Gears 3 thanks.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #9 by TheBrute1997
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:34:39 PM
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Sounds great, to me it sounds like an improved Gears of War 3, and that along with Skyrim were my GOTY's 2011.

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #10 by creaper210
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:34:41 PM
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I'm gonna get this only for the campaign and coop modes. Multiplayer would be fun if it weren't for the fact that people use nothing but shotguns. Which I'm assuming will happen here too, since this is a GoW game. God, is it boring and repetitive as hell.

I'm gonna get it, just not day one. Probably when it goes down to $30 or something.

Forum Posts: 36
Comment #11 by knight0fs
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:45:37 PM
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as long as they get rid of the cheesy dialogue

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #12 by DeadMan634
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 05:54:49 PM
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Even though half of Epic Games left.. I'm still picking this up. Because I love Gears of War and I want to see the story of Baird and Cole before they met Marcus and everyone else so I'm not passing this one. Can't wait. :)

Forum Posts: 158
Comment #13 by TheBajan
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 06:09:30 PM
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No comment on the fact that this one features less modes this time around?

Forum Posts: 956
Comment #14 by Lord Montymort
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 06:27:13 PM
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@13 It has less modes because in Gears 3 everything but TDM and KotH died withing 3 months of release.

Forum Posts: 89
Comment #15 by strawberry
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 06:30:33 PM
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@14 False. Theey had at least 4 thousand each. How is this dying?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #16 by Lostdonut
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 06:31:45 PM
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Want to know why Epic hasn't giving more company's hands on and us fans a more in depth look? Because they are striping down Gears into some watered down version of a casual third person shooter. NO LOCUST in multiplayer, no DBNO, no executions in MP(only in Overrun mode, which is also the only mode you can play locust). Sawed off with TWO shots and the range of a gnasher that shoots faster! Please do some research before playing this "gears" game, its a sad day to see this happen.

Forum Posts: 956
Comment #17 by Lord Montymort
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 07:42:05 PM
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@15 Whenever I've been on Gears 3 the only thing with over 1000 is TDM, with KotH in second with about 700. Everything else is lucky if they even break 100 these days, they all did reasonably well for the first 3 months, but once the more causal fans realized that dying is punished a lot less in TDM and KotH they all just stuck with them. The shear number of modes also killed it, there was far too many, and while 4 might not be enough, I'd rather have just 4 gamemodes with a ton of players than 10 with next to no one.

Forum Posts: 797
Comment #18 by FYC Punker
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 08:11:32 PM
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@16 do some research,the sawed off had the same damage and radis as the gnasher,the only difference is it shoots faster but reloads slower and has less of a "clip".

It's code name at epic is "gnasher jr",it's essentially the same gun,it's nothing like it was in gears 3.

Forum Posts: 605
Comment #19 by pauly_27
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 08:22:22 PM
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No locust in MP is because they have no character, no DBNO is trying to stop kill stealing, and no exectutions in MP is a godsend, seeing as I will no longer have to wait forever whilst somebody does their "cool" beatdown animation that got old probably the second or third time you saw it.

If you are a Gears fan, then you should be pleased about those changes.

Forum Posts: 148
Comment #20 by GOWnage
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 08:30:17 PM
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Gnasher is now a pick up weapon. Need I say more?

Forum Posts: 221
Comment #21 by immortality20
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 08:32:48 PM
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Another great game for the Gears series. Buying day 1, I hope next gen MS has some new franchises for us to buy for the next 7 years.

Forum Posts: 797
Comment #22 by FYC Punker
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 09:20:53 PM
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@20 every weapons a pick up weapon,but you can start with a lancer,retro,hammerburst,classic hammerburst,gnasher,sawed off,or markza.

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #23 by bigp 6
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 09:36:50 PM
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When i first heard of all these changes I actually thought about skipping this one & that means alot comeing from someone that has been playing gears EVERY NIGHT since GOW1 (seriously everynight, no bullshit). But now i feel like this i was once big on COD but after they started rehashing COD4 i lost all interest in it & now you couldnt pay me to play maybe these changes will work but what kind of gears fan would i be if i didnt try for 1 buy for me

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #24 by Nagoomba Jarra
Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 10:04:54 PM
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as much as I enjoy the gears franchise, I'm a little worried with the changes (I'm not against change but you never know).

Forum Posts: 69
Comment #25 by Sigmund666
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 01:00:15 AM
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Game has already released on the net as I check this morning....

Forum Posts: 592
Comment #26 by TransonicPower
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 03:09:08 AM
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@20 lol no its not, do some research before you post that kind of nonsense. Thanks to @22 for clearing that up for everyone so nobody will get confused.

Forum Posts: 2099
Comment #27 by mjc0961
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 03:54:28 AM
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@7: Indeed. Too bad there's no way to know if what they saw was from the actual game or another pulling of wool over everyone's head like with Aliens: Colonial Marines. I already canceled my preorder of this and will not be buying a copy until multiple user reviews (not that IGN style bullshit) prove that it doesn't totally suck balls. After all, Bulletstorm was a complete failure (on PC, which is where I played it because it's a first person shooter), so I have no reason to trust that People Can Fly and Epic Games are putting out a quality product.

Forum Posts: 2099
Comment #28 by mjc0961
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 03:59:46 AM
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@19: You mean we can finally not sit there and watch some guy punch the last enemy player in the face for 5 minutes before the next match starts? That will be a welcome change indeed... If this game ends up being worth money.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #29 by Astrex
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 04:23:39 AM
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oh fuck yeah got to download this early in the morning! il be playing this tonight on my jtag mother fuckers!!!

Forum Posts: 455
Comment #30 by LeMansFahrer
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 06:20:32 AM
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I just PreOrdered the game this morning here in Germany, we don´t get codes here but with the PreOrder we get a GOW Controller with it making the game cheaper than expected. It will mostprobalbly cost 70 Euro here minus the 40 for the controller making it a 30 bucks game. I could not resist seeing that I entered the store because my controller is not working that well.

Forum Posts: 363
Comment #31 by mr wong tong
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 10:33:01 AM
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I cant fucking stand score based systems. Having to play the entire game in a way to maximise points? not fun.

It was like that for bulletstorm. great game but fuck why the points system.

Not to mention how much they've taken away from this game. Down system gone in most game types, no locust, sawn off having 2 bullets (it should have none) the list goes on. Watch a multiplayer video if you don't believe it.

Forum Posts: 599
Comment #32 by HorsemanOfWar16
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 11:48:13 AM
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Really torn in two on this one. Being a detected gears fan, I welcome new gears content with new weapons and tweaks. However that is the way I'm seeing as described in this preview, content for arcade, not a fully fledged game that I would spend £39.99 on. :{ I think I'll wait for the reviews to roll in.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #33 by Lostdonut
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 10:23:11 PM
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Why should I be pleased with the removal of Gears staples from a series I supported from the start? Removal of locust shows nothing more than the series becoming CoD. At least Locust vs Cogs made sense in fiction. Removing DBNO killed alot of modes that I enjoyed, mainly execution. Which brings the removal of executions, yeah the beatdown over did it but thats a STAPLE of Gears. Shit lets remove killstreaks from CoD or shields from Halo. Killstealing wouldn't be a damn problem is down = kill. Encourages finishes from teammates without all the bitching afterwards. Not to mention your restricted loadouts... This is Gears sorry. Thats coming from a real gears fan.

Forum Posts: 187
Comment #34 by bedroom
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ 11:15:53 PM
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Hmmm might just be a one play through and mainly mp for me still need to do 2 on insane :l

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #35 by Juicy J55
Saturday, February 23, 2013 @ 08:57:43 PM
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I agree with lostdonut, why remove key features of the game that made the game so different from COD or halo.
cog. vs cog. is dumb and tries to cater too much to halo fans, and people not GOING DOWN?????? why epic, why would you ever change something that brought most true gears fans to the franchise? what other game can you step on someones face? none! executions was the best part of the franchise and was one of the most distingushable things from all other copy paste from previous games bulshit that other franchises do.
epic fail for this one, and all ppl complaining about executions and "oh poor me i suck so bad that i always get executed and have to sit here watching this guy punch my face in or beat me with my arm," if you didnt fucking suck, your shit wouldnt b getting pushed in, way to ruin a great game from complaining so much... go back to cod!

Forum Posts: 981
Comment #36 by Tai_MT
Monday, February 25, 2013 @ 06:00:46 PM
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The worst thing about Gears of War has always been its fanbase and playerbase. If you DARE change the whole "shotgun whore" dynamic of gameplay, you're breaking the game! OH NOES!!!

I miss when Gears 3 didn't cater to these idiots and gave us the highly powerful/useful Retro Lancer with slightly longer range than a gnasher and a good damage output to stop the shotgun whores.

Then the playerbase whined and it got an accuracy and damage nerf so we're back to shotgun spam games. I leave the game for a year and come back to massive shotgun spam.

Needless to say, until they fix the whole "shotgun spam" nonsense of the multiplayer in these games... I'm going to probably sit this one out until the title drops massively in price.

What on earth is the point of cover and calling it a "stop and pop shooter" when nobody in multiplayer EVER does that? The only ones you see do it are the snipers.

Don't get me wrong, in most every game there is, I love using the shotgun. I'm the CQC kind of guy... The problem with Gears is the fact that the weapon "insta-kills" from such a distance away that it's viable for almost ANY kind of combat. It's used against anything up to mid-range and sometimes it gets chunk kills from that distance as well. Gameplay has become "who has host shotgun and who can wall bounce best" instead of "who knows how to actually play the game, being good with any weapon". Every match is so dull because of massive shotgun whoring. Many matches are also endlessly FRUSTRATING because of this as well.

I miss when playtesters would... oh, I dunno... actually TEST their games. Test multiplayer for balance... test weapons for balance... rebalance when it was necessary...

Epic has never done that with any of their games, and yet have amazingly stayed in business.

Forum Posts: 58
Comment #37 by LifeMakesMeLOL
Thursday, February 28, 2013 @ 11:55:31 AM
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@36 Gears' multiplayer has ALWAYS been built on the Gnasher. If you don't like the Gnasher then you're not going to like Gears in the long run.

And the Retro was nerfed because it was absurdly overpowered, and it still is. You should NOT be able to down people across the map with that weapon and you should NOT be able to handle the recoil so easily when firing full auto.

Forum Posts: 32
Comment #38 by Godfather93a
Saturday, March 02, 2013 @ 04:58:12 PM
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@37 I can down a player across the map with a retro because 1 I'm a good shot & 2 I time my shots between the the recoil. No different if you time your shots with the gnasher.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #39 by NakedSnake
Sunday, March 03, 2013 @ 10:03:43 PM
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I'm really debating on buying this game. I love Gears, but I see this game as a Halo:Reach type of game that is just used as filler between the next major title. I may just wait for a price drop.

Forum Posts: 216
Comment #40 by LouTenit Dan
Friday, March 08, 2013 @ 09:48:45 AM
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I love gears...It was my favorite game outta all shooters...This is pretty much Gears of War : ODST....Don't get me wrong more gears is cool but $65 + season pass(you get 4 multiplayer maps on the disc..ya only 4 wtf?) and you can buy custom armor skins/weapons and buy double XP...The whole thing just feels like a cash in for epic....

The real judgement game really feels like ODST with what xtra they added(and besides the guns its not much) Then once you beat the game you unlock another 1-2hr campaign....extension I'll call it. I'd rent it but to's not worth it.

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #41 by bu11et
Friday, April 05, 2013 @ 06:03:03 AM
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GOW! Hella Dope!

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Game Info
Epic Games


US March 19, 2013
Europe March 22, 2013

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