Gears of War: Judgment
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|Gears of War: Judgment|
Alan Van Slyke
|Series||Gears of War|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
Gears of War: Judgment is a military science fiction third-person shooter video game, developed by Epic Games with additional work by People Can Fly and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 in North America on 19 March 2013, with subsequent regions following later that month. It is the fourth entry of the Gears of War series.
On 4 June 2012, Microsoft announced the development of Gears of War: Judgment at the company's press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, before releasing a debut trailer and demonstrating the upcoming multiplayer features. Prior to Microsoft's announcement, video game journalists had already determined that the chronology of events in Gears of War: Judgment would pre-date that of the other releases in the franchise, and that the prequel would feature Damon Baird and Augustus Cole as protagonists.
Gears of War: Judgment received favorable reactions from critics, albeit less positive than its predecessors. Critics cited the game's multiplayer mode, visuals and action as strengths, but criticized the single-player campaign's narrative and length, as well as the game's failure to innovate the series' gameplay. By August 2013 it sold over 1 million copies.
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The main campaign is divided into six chapters, each with several missions. Unlike the previous games in the series, which used very large, open environments, missions are self-contained portions of the overall story and returning to earlier missions' settings is never possible. Each mission is scored on several criteria including the number of kills by the player, head shots, and gibs, and up to three stars are awarded. During each mission an optional, harder setting is available mandates certain criteria such as a time limit or a restriction on usable weapons; doing so increases the score. Obtaining 40 stars unlocks the separate "Aftermath" campaign, which consists of one chapter and is a follow up to the Gears of War 3 campaign. Aftermath does not award stars or offer the harder setting seen in the Gears of War: Judgment campaign.
Gears of War: Judgment has two new multiplayer modes, OverRun and Free-for-All. The game has eight maps (four of which are exclusive to OverRun and four of which are exclusive to COG versus COGBlue Team vs. Red Team)) and four game modes. Several key multiplayer features of the series have been changed as well, including the ability to plant grenades on walls, damage boosts from active reloads, and the ability to carry both a shotgun and a rifle into combat, though this last feature was later reinstated for all standard versus multiplayer modes except Free-For-All, due to fan dissatisfaction. However, it has been confirmed that the "Execution" mode will return through free downloadable content two weeks after the game launches, with the addition of two free maps. Also absent, are the Locust, who only appear in OverRun; instead, it is now COG versus COG (multiplayer).
The game's story takes place during flashbacks recalled by Baird and his team during a hearing at a COG military tribunal. Each level is a recollection by a different member of the team. Lieutenant and mechanical genius Damon Baird, former Thrashball player Augustus Cole, Onyx Guard cadet Sofia Hendrick and former UIR soldier Garron Paduk. The reason for the hearing is Baird's unauthorized use of a lightmass missile and subsequent death penalty. Upon hearing Baird's testimony it flashes back to Kilo Squad during the early time of emergence day the locust have seized control of many human areas and seek to take over Sera.
Kilo Squad is put on trial for various crimes by Colonel Ezra Loomis and is given the chance to explain their actions:
Following orders, Kilo checks out a convoy in the Old Town part of Halvo Bay only to find it destroyed. Kilo proceeds to battle through Old Town and into the Museum of Military Glory where they encounter the fearsome Locust General Karn and his mount Shibboleth accompanied by hundreds of Locust. Contacting Colonel Loomis, Cadet Sofia Hendrick suggests using a powerful weapon known as the Lightmass Missile to take Karn out, but Loomis is against the idea. Realizing how dangerous Karn is, Kilo decides to do it anyway and travels to the Onyx Guard Academy where they find and protect the missile's targeting beacon, a bot that Lieutenant Damon Baird later names Troy. With Troy in their possession, Kilo travels to the Seashore Hills to the mansion of Professor Elliot, creator of the missile in order to get the launch codes needed to fire the missile. Fighting into the mansion, Kilo must defend Troy from repeated waves of Locust as he downloads the launch codes. Once they have the codes, Kilo travels to the island of Onyx Point where the missile itself is, fighting through entrenched Locust forces to reach and arm the missile. Despite orders to the contrary, they arm the missile and head back to the museum where they figure Karn is heading to lay a trap. Fighting across the rooftops of Old Town, Kilo sends Troy in to guide the missile and despite Loomis threatening to execute them if they go through with their plan, Baird fires the Lightmass Missile at the museum, blowing it up and killing hundreds of Locust, Karn presumably among them. Kilo then defends themselves from a massive Locust attack on their rooftop and once its over, are arrested by Loomis for their actions.
In the present, Loomis prepares to execute the squad when the Locust break into the courtroom. Private Garron Paduk, who particularly hates Loomis, saves his life and he flees while Kilo must fight their way out and to a nearby King Raven. Reaching the King Raven with Loomis, Karn is revealed to have survived the Lightmass Missile and he attacks Kilo and Loomis who manage to kill his mount Shibboleth. Loomis executes the heavily injured Karn and drops the charges against Kilo, but demotes Baird from Lieutenant to Private for his actions.
In the Aftermath campaign, Baird and Cole return to Halvo Bay during Gears of War 3 with Clayton Carmine to find a ship and reinforcements for the assault on Azura. There they encounter Paduk who left the COG with Sofia sometime after the original battle and set up a community in the ruins of Halvo Bay that has both COG and UIR members with no one caring about sides, only survival. He agrees to lead the three to a ship that can take them to Azura. As they make their way through the ruined city to the washed-up Imulsion rig where Paduk's people are located, the squad comes into conflict with the Locust. Finally arriving at the rig, the group finds no living humans and it occupied by packs of Formers, Lambent Humans. Fighting through the Formers, they send off a flare from the roof of the rig and the survivors of Paduk's people, who have moved to another part of the city, send a King Raven to pick them up but they first have to hold off a determined Locust and Lambent assault. Finally, they board the King Raven and Paduk takes them to the flooded part of the city where a tidal wave from the sinking of Jacinto in Gears of War 2 has beached a ship on the roof of a hotel. The squad collects explosives from an armory at a police station and Baird sets them on columns at the hotel while the others cover him. Unfortunately the explosives fail to collapse the hotel and the team must come up with an alternate plan. Making their way into a restaurant in the hotel, Baird opens three gas valves, releasing the gas into the building then detonates the gas with a grenade while he, Cole, Paduk and Carmine use a zip-line to get off the building. This time the effort is successful and the building collapses, putting the ship back into the water. Having explained their plan to Paduk, Baird asks his old friend to come with them, but Paduk refuses as a group of Gears kidnapped Sofia who he was romantically involved with, causing him to hate the COG even more than he did before. Paduk leaves and tells Baird to never see him again if they are to remain friends. Baird, Cole and Carmine set sail for Azura on the ship, joining with Gorasni forces to help Marcus and the others in their assault on the island.
GameSpot confirmed that gamers who pre-order the game at Wal-Mart's website would receive either Gears of War 2 or Gears of War 3 at no additional cost. All customers who pre-order their games elsewhere would receive a download code for the original Gears of War as well as another download token for the Classic Hammerburst weapon and any playable multiplayer character skin.
Players could purchase a "VIP Season Pass" which offered players a permanent double experience boost and early access to two additional expansions which include six new multiplayer maps, two modes, five weapon skins, four armor skins, and two character skins.
- March 29, 2013 the first downloadable content (DLC) pack was released for the game called Haven. The DLC was released as a free to download pack and was co-sponsored by Maxim. It includes a multiplayer map also titled Haven and a new multiplayer mode called Execution in which each team attempts to wipe out the opposing team before time runs out. Those users who bought the Season Pass received a triple experience boost.
- April 19, 2013, Epic announced a second map pack titled Call to Arms. The map pack was released on April 23, 2013 exclusively to those who bought the Season Pass. It was released to general public on April 30, 2013. The DLC contains two new multiplayer maps Blood Drive and Boneyard and a new OverRun map called Terminal. The DLC also contains a new free-for-all gameplay mode called Master at Arms in which the goal is to get a kill with each of the 20 different available weapons, without resorting to melee or grenade tactics
- May 10, 2013, Epic Games revealed that their third expansion pack called Dreadnought would be a free multiplayer downloadable content pack for a limited time due to a sponsorship deal with Maxim and would be available to download from the 15th May 2013. The DLC was however released a day earlier on 14 May 2013. It adds a new multiplayer map for the OverRun mode also titled Dreadnought.
- May 16, 2013 Epic Games announced that a fourth and final map pack titled Lost Relics will be available in June. The DLC will include a new multiplayer mode called Breakthrough that features two teams with very distinct roles, one team has possession of a flag that they must deliver to a set location, the opposing team has a purely defensive role and unlimited resources. The attacking team must break through the enemy team's defensive line and deliver the flag before their pool of lives run out. The DLC includes three new multiplayer maps titled Checkout, Lost City and Museum. It also contains a new map for the OverRun mode called Ward. The DLC was released on June 18, 2013 for Season Pass holders and was released for general public on June 25, 2013.
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Gears of War: Judgment has received positive reviews from critics. It received an average review score of 77.53% on GameRankings and 79/100 on Metacritic. GameSpot gave it a score of 7.5/10. Giant Bomb gave it a score of 3/5 saying its campaign "twists the [Gears of War] formula in some interesting ways but the rest of the package feels pretty thin for a full-priced retail product". IGN scored the game a score of 9.2/10 and stated the game as 'amazing'. According to the reviewer, the game is 'a fantastic prequel with super combat'.
According to Cowen and Company the first-month sales of Gears of War: Judgment were very poor compared to Gears of War 3 selling about 425,000 units, around a fifth of the two million Gears of War 3 managed in September 2011. In the United States, the game was the third best-selling title behind Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider. In August 2013 it was revealed that Gears of War: Judgment sold just over one million copies.
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