CGR Undertow – GEARS OF WAR: JUDGEMENT review for Xbox 360
Numbers are kind of important. I mean, they
say everything is numbers. I’m not sure about that, I’m not a math guy. But I do know this…when
it comes to gaming, numbers are everything. They drive this industry, and at times, they
also drive our expectations. I mean, which game were you more excited for?
Resident Evil 6…or Resident Evil: Revelations? Mega Man 9…or Mega Man ZX Advent? Gears of War 3…or Gears of War: Judgment? See, there’s a kind of inferiority that’s
almost inherent to a spinoff, to a video game within a series that just…sort of bridges
the ones with numbers. Fair or not, they’re often viewed as the stopgaps, right? The snack
between meals. The gas station on the way to the beach. Even though sometimes, they
have everything the main event has, with the lone exception…of a number. Sometimes, numbers are everything. That’s because…sometimes? The stop gaps
are gas stations. Gears of War 3 wrapped up the original trilogy
in a way most people seemed to be happy with. But with the next proper, numbered Gears of
War release still over the horizon, that meant the Xbox 360 might not even get another Gears
of War game. Since money drives the industry just as much as numbers do, well…that simply
would not suffice. Er go, detour. Bag of chips. Gas station…Gears
of War: Judgment. Actually, it’s more like a gas station with
a sweet ball pit. That’s because Judgment is actually an interesting concept. It’s a
prequel, but…it focuses on secondary characters, rather than doing the obvious and delving
into the Marcus Phoenix backstory. Events unfold via flashbacks, and we’re allowed to
play out some of the major moments in these characters’ histories. In fact, there’s also
an additional campaign that runs simultaneously to the events of Gears of War 3. Of course, the issue there is that…if you
make a game with secondary characters, you’re making a game with secondary character appeal.
It’s like playing a Mario game as Toad, you know? There’s a reason that only happens in
multiplayer. And for a game that’s entire concept is story driven, that’s sort of an
inherent problem. Unless you’re a hardcore fan, it’s hard to
really care all that much. Of course, once you get to the gameplay, the
interesting basically gives way to the established. And you start to see what Judgment really
is…just a subtle tweaking of a great formula. Start with the same Resident Evil 4 derived
cover-and-shoot gameplay, only this time, let people swap weapons with Y and throw grenades
with a shoulder button. Seriously, that’s about the only mechanical changes that were
made for Judgment. It’s just more Gears of War, and really…that’s all it needs to be. Fortunately, there are a few structural changes.
Uh, for example, there are these glowing logos in each level. And they basically give you
the option of playing through the level differently, either by changing the objective or the rules.
Those are a really clever way of adding variety to a game that can certainly get repetitive. And there’s also new multiplayer modes to
complement the favorites. Still, the whole time you’re playing, you
can’t help shake the feeling that…this is just Gears of War 3.5. The whole experience
has this feeling that, much like its characters, feels secondary. And hey, that’s not necessarily
a bad thing. If all you’re looking for is more Gears, Judgment is just that. And it’s
a really good Gears game, too. But you know…sometimes, numbers are everything. And Gears of War: Judgment doesn’t have any.