Gears of War: Judgment
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Game Reviewed: Gears of War: Judgment
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Epic Games/People Can Fly
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Third Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: M
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The Gears of War series had a habit, especially in its first game, of mentioning interesting backstory for its characters without ever actually bothering to go into the details and flesh said characters out. The original trilogy eventually fixed this with its two leads, but the other major characters never got that honor.
Gears of War: Judgment sets out to fix that by going back into the life of Baird, a major character from the main trilogy, to depict a major event in his career that led to his inclusion in the story of the Gears of War trilogy. Well, that and to deliver more action with blazing guns and roaring chainsaw bayonets.
Indeed, Gears of War is known for pioneering the modern third-person shooter more than it is for its narrative, and Judgment seeks to add a bit more fun into the equation by handing development to People Can Fly, a studio known for making crazy, fun-focused shooters like Painkiller and Bulletstorm. This change of hands is noticeable, but the result isn’t changed very much from the Gears of War formula. And of course, the level of mature content is certainly not something they changed.
What Parents Need to Know
Gears of War’s most well-known icon is that of an assault rifle with a chainsaw attached. I really shouldn’t need to say anything more than that, but I’ll go into a bit more detail.
There are three kinds of violence in Gears of War: Judgment. The first is the simple blood sprays from bullets hitting their targets. The second is explosive violence, wherein an explosion reduces a character to uncountable bloody bits that explode all over the battlefield. The third is a matter of more focused violence, such as the way heads explode when hit with powerful sniper rifles, the way each weapon has a unique and bloody way to execute an enemy that has been knocked down, or the way enemies are cleaved in half by those aforementioned chainsaws. And as usual, the visuals go to great lengths to make sure the guts are clearly visible if you look at the corpses of people who have been sawed in half.
The f-word, the s-word, and other lesser expletives are used throughout the game.
Nothing of note.
A Child’s Perspective:
I don’t have children play M-rated games for this section.
Gears of War: Judgment is, from a gameplay perspective, everything the previous games in the series have been. The gameplay is still as good as ever, the cover system is intact, and the variety of weapons still ensures many unique situations and play-styles will be present throughout the game. The result is possibly the most balanced and entertaining multiplayer mode the series has seen since the first game.
Unfortunately, the single-player experience suffers in every area outside of the gameplay itself. It’s enjoyable enough, and the level design is serviceable enough for the gameplay to shine through, but the promise of exploring a character’s backstory is entirely squandered by a disappointingly lazy cop-out of a story. It is told from the perspectives of all four members of the team, with perspectives switching between characters at certain missions. Such an interesting narrative framing device is then used to tell a story that amounts entirely to, “The bad guy is here, and we need to go kill him.” For a series that actually improved greatly in its storytelling over the course of its main run, this is horribly disappointing on that front.
That said, if you or your child can handle the gore and language, the game is entertaining enough, but even if this level of graphic violence is acceptable for your child, expect nothing more than some enjoyable multiplayer matches and a few fun cooperative modes.