Microsoft hands the “Gears” helm over to the more than capable development studio “People Can Fly” for the first branched out adventure in the Gears universe.

Jumping back into battle against the reptilian Locust, Gears of War: Judgment places you before the events of the original Gears title. However this time you're not playing as the iconic Marcus Fenix, rather Damon Baird and a rag-tag group called the Kilo Squad in an odd “on trial” story revolving around planet-wide assault labeled Emergence Day.

Yes, Gears without Marcus sounds pretty risky, and it is. Baird had his place in the trilogy, but as a leader, his grit is a thin. It could entire “flashback” scenario, his character, or the simple fact that we want a new evolution in the series, but Judgment seems to lack the “punch” of its predecessors. Not only lacking passion, the stop-and-go presentation via flashback segments featuring each Kilo Squad member weakens the overall flow of the experience. Even with strong showings in the other Gears titles, the two known characters of Cole and Baird are missing that grand sense of comradely of the other three games..

Like it or leave it, once you get past the shaky narrative, it’s like riding a bike and this is where Gears has always excelled. Solid mechanics, frantic and strategic shoot-outs against one badass group of enemies. Sure the approach is slightly altered, but the results are the same. A few new enemies and weapons have been tossed into the mix, which adds some flavor. None of the new additions are overwhelming and for the fans, the gameplay is relatively the same.


The main positive switch to the formula is the option to activate “declassified” objectives to each mission. Since Judgment breaks up each section of the game into small missions, in-game prompts will ask you if you’d like to activate this declassified option. These options slightly alter each level with an added level of difficulty. I found myself eagerly activating each mission, in what really should have been the games default play-through. Although activating this option boots the difficulty, the declassified spin made Judgment feel more like a new Gears game should have been. The break in missions only slows the feel and a better experience could have been made with “declassified” permanently on.

A new star scoring system has also been added to the game giving you a star rating based on your performance. Numerous factors go into your score making you play more aggressive to earn big points. This system is interesting for those score-hounds, although it doesn’t feel like a necessity. Of course the best reason to include a system like such is to increase replayablility, which it does. Earning more points, or completing a level a minimum amount of stars will have you replaying missions or looking for new ways to dismember you foes. Still additional objectives are a plus, but it's not really groundbreaking..


The multiplayer portion of Judgment furthers is an interesting evolution of their game. A few new modes are have been added to what is already a rich multiplayer experience. For those who haven’t tried Gears online will be in for a surprise because as much as Gears is a story-based experience, co-op and competitive multiplayer have their own addictive niche. Either going head-to-head or enjoying some class based match-ups, Judgment has a strong online showing. The only negative to touch-on is the removal of the horde mode, which is totally baffling since it has been the staple of the online mode. Mysterioulsy omitted, it could because a few “horde-like” sections have been spliced into the campaign. Although not perfectly upgraded from "Gears 3", the multiplayer is still an enjoyable experience.

The product in Judgment is on par with expectations. The mood is lighter (due no doubt to the narrative) which is reflected in the design. A few neat atmospheric tricks show off the fadility of the game engine, but in the end its nothing we haven’t already seen from the series. This doesn’t mean Judgment isn’t a looker, it is, but it just feels underwhelming. Few levels stuck out in comparison to other sections in the trilogy and aside from the touched up character models, it is very much painting by number.


Gears of War: Judgment is a tricky one. Sure, it’s a solid game when if it was standing on its own. However, it happens to be following up one of the best action based series of this generation, and in comparison to the rest of the Gears trilogy, it’s severally lacking. The main factor aside from awful break in the continuity is the lack of a punch and emotional tie-in to the single-player campaign. The story of Baird and crew just isn’t that interesting. Beyond the somewhat botched single-player, the multiplayer options make Judgment worth picking up the disc, but it’s not a complete package. In a ho-hum voice, Judgment isn’t the best Gears experience, but I guess it will do. Hopefully the next time we’re running chainsaw first into the face of a Locust baddie, it’s continuing the series, not reliving its former glory.

  • Declassified option is a must, gives Judgment that boost of excitement it needs.
  • Combat mechanics are a solid beast like only Gears can do.
  • One more trip down a familiar yet fun road.
  • Story lacks the punch of its processors.
  • Sticking to Gears 3 MP. Horde mode gone, pfft.
  • Broken missions structure slows the continuity.
  • The Kilo Squad doesn’t have the mojo to make you believe.
Quote: "Beyond the somewhat botched single-player, the multiplayer options make Judgment worth picking up the disc, but it’s not a complete package."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 05.10.13

Similar Games: Gears of War 2 (9.4) | Gears of War (9.5) | Gears of War 3 (9.8)


Gears of War


Epic Games
People Can Fly


US Release
November '12



Players 1-2
Sys. Link 2-10
Online MP 2-10
Dolby 5.1
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content