'Gears of War: Judgment" Top Five Changes And Additions

By Trevor Ruben , Updated Mar 25, 2013 04:43 PM EDT

"Gears of War: Judgment" is out, it's pretty good, not perfect, but should satiate those "Gears" fans who just can't get enough. Epic brought People Can Fly in for a re-adjust on the series, and they've come away with more improvements than vice versa, despite a shallow offering of maps and some pretty ugly microtransactions. Here's what we found to be the most encouraging changes and additions.

5. Ovverrun

"Gears of War 3" launched with a horde mode and a beast mode, but sorely lacking in anything in the middle. The obvious question was answered, and now we have Overrun, which pits human-controlled locust beasts against human-controlled class-based humans in a "Battlefield" style push-the-line structure. It's not perfect - the engineers are an obvious go-to for humans while Cole's grenade launcher is severely lacking - but the controlled chaos of the action is exciting and, more importantly, brings a new feel to the aging "Gears" multiplayer formula. People Can Fly put a lot into the mode, matching the number of Overrun maps with the measly four traditional competitive modes. It's a good thing it turned out to be so fun.

4. Declassification

While Baird's narrative may be lacking in some areas, much like most "Gears of War" games, "Judgment" introduces the declassify gimmick to campaign missions to ramp things up and force players into new play styles. By opting into a declassification modifier at various points in a mission, players choose to ramp up the difficulty in order to score more points. Sometimes this means the enemies are more powerful, sometimes you're forced to use a specific loadout. It may be narratively contrived, but it works great as an infusion of gameplay variety. That's "Gears" in a nutshell.

3. Markza Sniper Rifle

A couple new weapons were thrown into the mix, despite this being a prequel, and they each have their uses, but I can guarantee the Markza is going to get a lot more time in multiplayer hands than anything else. The DRM-style semi-automatic sniper rifle is great at medium to long range, granting any player who wants it a counter to long-range power weapons strewn around the map. The Markza is also the easiest headshot weapon "Gears" has ever offered players, opening up that watermelon pop to the masses. That's a good thing, I think.

2. Multiplayer Flow

Let's get technical now, and acknowledge how People Can Fly has streamlined your everyday multiplayer match despite Epic's insistence on keeping things the same for the first three installations. First, no more switching weapons with the D-Pad. I don't hear anyone complaining about the loss of that awful input, though Microsoft surely mourns the loss of the only franchise that ever through to really use it. The controls may be more like "Call of Duty" now, with grenades mapped to the bumper, but standardization in the context of shooter controls only helps to make the game more accessible to more players. Additionally, player spawns are faster and more frequent, which goes along with the new free-for-all mode in getting players into the battle and wreaking havoc as often and as brutally as possible.

1. Improved Hit Detection

Such a simple thing, to register bullet hits and explosions consistently, but it took "Gears of War" four games to take that issue to the background once and for all. Maybe less people are playing the game than "Gears of War 3," or maybe Epic stabilized their servers and net code, but for right now it's working in a way that CliffyB could never get it to. That gives "Gears of War: Judgment" the most sustainable multiplayer in the series yet. Now let's see them add some more maps.

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