|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Epic Games, People Can Fly|
|Release: March 19, 2013|
|Players: 1- (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
The Gears of War story is essentially over with the conclusion of Gears of War 3, but Epic Games would have to be insane to let the franchise die so soon. As a result, Gears of War: Judgment travels into the past, recounting events before the original trilogy. Of course, this travel back in time includes more guns, more abilities, and more evolutions on the series than anything we have seen before.
The first big evolution is in its single-player campaign. At its base, it’s still the same basic campaign formula you have come to know and love: You complete a series of missions, generally by shooting everything and everyone around you. However, there are a few things that make this campaign mode a bit different than what we have seen in the past.
For example, Judgment has created a new take on difficulty levels. Most games simply offer a higher difficulty level for people who want the challenge, but offer little to no reward for doing so. Granted, sometimes you can only get the “true ending” or special items by completing Hard Mode, but these endings can just as easily be obtained by watching YouTube, and these special items, though powerful, tend to be unnecessary if you weren’t playing the game on Hard in the first place.
Gears of War: Judgment has its own take on Hard Mode called Declassification. This New Game + mode makes missions more difficult by changing the rules. For example, different enemies may spawn, weapons may be restricted, areas might change, and more. However, these changes will also affect the story being told. This means the game’s Hard Mode is integrated to the story itself as a way to tell “what really happened,” as opposed to the events in easier missions.
Epic has also unveiled a ratings system for Judgment, which will rate each mission from 0-3 stars based on difficulty. Then, at the end of your mission, you will be able to see a detailed readout of all the actions you took (number of kills, downed allies, etc.) These stats will affect your star rating to show how well you did, and you can instantly replay a mission to improve this star rating. As of now, we do not know if these star ratings effect the game in any fashion, but if they, say, unlock bonus items or weapons, you can be sure that people will be going for a perfect score each time.
This alone increases the game’s replay value by quite a bit, but Epic is pushing the envelope even further by introducing the Smart Spawn System. This system ensures that different enemy types spawn at different locations in different areas of the single-player missions. This way, your gameplay experience will be totally different each time you play through the game.