Gears of War: Judgment GAME Exclusive Steelbook Edition with Original Gears of War Download Code Xbox-360
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Released on 22-Mar-2013
A Riveting Campaign
Judgment focuses on the members of Kilo Squad in a time years before the original Gears Trilogy. Gears favourites Damon Baird and Augustus 'Cole Train' Cole are joined by new squad mates in a mission to stop a terrifying new enemy laying siege to Halvo Bay.
With the planet Sera on the brink of annihilation at the hands of an unstoppable Locust menace, Judgment offers a new take on Gears gameplay, with cooperative gameplay of up to four players through Xbox LIVE. There's also a new Mission Declassification system that will offer you more challenging scenarios and achievements by uncovering vital info throughout the campaign.
Faster and More Intense Combat
Judgment offers a gameplay experience that goes back to basics, capturing the true essence of Gears combat while introducing a new style of faster-paced combat to really amp up the action.
Gears of War: Judgment introduces a new Smart Spawn System [S3] for both campaign and multiplayer action. This new system ensures that each encounter is unique and new because types, timing and locations of enemies change with each new encounter.
Explosive New Multiplayer Experiences
OverRun is just the first of the brand-new multiplayer modes introduced in Gears of War: Judgment. Locust and COG soldiers can go head to head in class-based competitive battles that lets five-player teams alternate between the two factions. Offering a deep player progression system, OverRun is like nothing seen before in any Gears of War title.
We came very close to getting a Gears of War movie back in 2007, when Underworld director Len Wiseman was set to direct from a script by Pirates of the Caribbean scribe Stuart Beattie. Before cameras could roll, studio New Line fell out with developer Epic Games and the project was mothballed.
Now it's back on again, with producer Scott Stuber picking up the rights. He's now developing a script himself, in conjunction with Epic, and will then shop it around the major studios. Stuber's CV is a strange one, boasting producer credits on gross-out comedy hits like Ted and Your Highness as well as blockbuster action flicks like Battleship, upcoming Keanu Reeves samurari epic 47 Ronin and the Denzel Washington thriller Safe House. Laughs, honour and thrills - could this be the combination needed to take Marcus Fenix and pals to the big screen?
After Halo, Gears of War is Microsoft's biggest exclusive franchise and it recently spawned a fourth game in the saga - the excellent prequel spin-off Gears of War: Judgment. All told, the Gears games have sold almost 20 million copies and the series has already spawned novels, action figures, comic books and even a board game.
Gamers have become used to the idea of paying for additions to our games, and that's why it's a lovely surprise whenever a publisher gives us something for nothing. That's the case with Microsoft's Gears of War: Judgment, which came out just a few weeks ago but is already getting a new game mode and an extra multiplayer map at no extra cost. The download is sponsored by men's mag Maxim, so you can probably thank them for the freebie.
The new map is called Haven, and takes place in a frozen monastery. It's a circular map, where all roads lead back to the centre. Domination games are particularly frantic here, as capture points are very exposed and difficult to defend. The wide open spaces are watched over by some fiendish sniper spots as well, so players will need to be wary of death from above.
Execution is the new game mode, a tweak to the deathmatch ruleset that means a kill only counts if you execute a player. Simply shooting or blowing them up won't work - they'll revive after a countdown expires unless you finish them off personally. Think of it as the Gears version of Modern Warfare's Kill Confirmed mode.
This won't be the only DLC for Judgment, of course. There are more paid map packs and updates planned, all of which can be pre-purchased with a season pass. For now, let's just wallow in the warm fuzzy afterglow of a cool freebie.
Gears of War: Judgment is out now for Xbox 360.
How Do You Plead?
Gears of War: Judgment has an unusual opening for the fourth entry in a series that has defined itself through a particularly muscular brand of machismo. Rather than the expected camaraderie and quips, we meet our heroes in chains, hauled before a military tribunal and charged with committing an act so heinous that a death sentence hangs over them.
Not much room for cover-based shooting and chainsaw antics there, you might think. Judgment has a trick up its sweaty sleeve, however. As the trial progresses, we flash back to the events that led to this situation, experiencing the story through the eyes of Kilo Squad's four members in turn as they recount their testimony.
Not only is Judgment played in flashback, but it's a prequel as well, set in the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day, when humanity's war with the Locust horde began. Fresh from the Pendulum War, supporting character Damon Baird is now elevated to the hero's chair.
The Louder You Scream, The Faster We Go
This isn't a series you'd expect to change radically, and it's true that much of Judgment feels familiar. You'll crouch and run to take cover behind crumbling walls, peering over the top with your Lancer rifle to take down the monsters that approach. If they get too close, you'll rev the chainsaw that's slung beneath your weapon and gut them from gizzard to groin. For those who only want the reassuring taste of Gears, everything you want is here.
But that taste has been cleverly changed by new developer People Can Fly, best known for the cheeky first-person shooter, Bulletstorm. Just as that cult hit was driven by a meta-scoring system based around the flair with which you dispatched enemies, so Judgment has taken on arcade qualities that result in a lighter, more accessible experience.
The game's six stages are broken up into seven or eight sections, each of which can last only five minutes or so. Taken together, the whole campaign still lasts well over seven hours, but it's far more replayable than any previous Gears title. Skirmishes are fast and bloody, and driven by a leaderboard mentality that ranks your progress using a three-star rating based on difficulty and performance.
Improving your star rating often involves undertaking optional "declassified missions". These are based on contradictions in your characters testimony and act as gameplay modifiers. You may be told that, actually, the following encounter was complicated by additional enemy forces, limited ammo or even high winds that made movement difficult. Accept these limitations and you'll score higher, but face a ramped up challenge in return.
These may seem like minor changes, considering the core feel of the game remains identical, but they make all the difference. This is a game designed from the ground up to be played and replayed, solo and in four player co-op, on multiple difficulty settings, and with or without the modified conditions.
The punchy bite-sized structure means that it's easy to dip back into favourite battles in search of better accolades, or just to enjoy the experience. Enemy spawns are randomised throughout, so no matter how many times you play the same section it will never be exactly the same.
There's a bonus campaign as well, unlocked when you earn 40 stars in the main campaign. Called Aftermath, this is a more traditional Gears experience with longer gauntlets of enemies to face down and no modifiers. Not only does it help to tie the story and characters of Judgment to the events of Gears of War 3, but it acts as a handy way to compare and contrast the difference in style between the two games. You may even find that the old way now feels a bit stodgy when played alongside the whipcrack action of this latest game.
There's multiplayer too, of course. You'll find the more traditional free-for-all and team deathmatch modes, along with Domination rounds where you hold and defend capture points against opponents. There's also a new Survival mode, an evolution of the Horde mode in the last game, where a team of human players must last ten rounds against wave after wave of Locust creatures.
All are great fun and well balanced, but it's OverRun that makes the package hum. This is a lop-sided match where you'll control both COG and Locust forces in turn, trying to push the other team back by opening or defending sealed E-Holes. There's a wonderful push and pull to these matches, and the chance to play as various outlandish monsters - from scuttling exploding Tickers all the way up to the thunderous spider-like Corpser, mean you'll discover new routes and tactics on the game's maps every time.
You'll level up in both campaign and online modes, but this isn't a game where veteran players are given an unfair advantage. There are no unlockable weapons or skills. Your level is simply there to show off your skill, reflected in the dozens of ribbons and medals you can earn for successful play. When so many shooters can be off-putting to those who haven't put in the hours needed to earn the best toys, there's a lot to be said for Judgment's ruthlessly level playing field where a Level 50 player has no more benefit than a Level 1 newcomer.
So while Judgment may technically be more of the same, it couldn't feel more different. The mechanics are familiar but everything around them has been shuffled, remixed and shaken up. It's a faster, gutsier, more inviting game and one that works just as well in a ten-minute burst as it does in an all-night session. Far from being a late and cynical addition to the franchise, it's the freshest sequel yet.
- The Gears gameplay you love with an arcade twist
- One of the best looking games on the Xbox 360
- OverRun is one of the best multiplayer modes in any shooter
- Aftermath campaign is a little thin
- XP is pointless if you're not interested in showing off
- Fragmented structure doesn't do the weak story any favours
Gears of War: Judgment, the fourth entry in Microsoft's beefy third-person shooter, is here, and with a more arcade-paced single player and co-op campaign courtesy of new developer People Can Fly, plus loads of new multiplayer modes, it seems to represent a subtle change of direction for the franchise. But what have the critics made of it?
IGN is a big fan, delivering a 9.2 score and calling the result "a fantastic prequel with superb combat, fun multiplayer and a meaningful story". The review also praises the addition of new weapons and skills which help to refresh the Gears formula, while the difficulty and competitive scoring system are apparently "rewarding".
Destructoid is also overwhelmingly positive, offering a 9/10 and highlighting the new OverRun game mode as the best new feature. "OverRun alone is worthy of praise," says the review, "but there's just so much stuff going on in this package, there's something for all followers of the series."
In the mainstream media, Metro Game Central reckons that Judgment is "a pleasingly worthwhile prequel that tweaks the structure and context of the campaign and multiplayer to the point where it seems surprisingly refreshing." The 8/10 review even goes so far as to suggest that with its tweaked gameplay and shorter, punchy levels it's actually a better sequel than Gears 2 and 3. Crikey.
Gears of War: Judgment is out on March 22nd for the Xbox 360
The hype may be building for the next generation of consoles but Epic Games, the studio behind the Gears of War trilogy and co-developer of the upcoming prequel Gears of War: Judgment, still thinks there's more that can be done with the current hardware.
In an interview with Official Xbox Magazine, lead level designer Jim Brown said: "When we first released Gears of War, the first one, people were like 'woah, they're pushing the Xbox to its limits, they're doing crazy things' and every single time we've been able to step it up and find some corner of the 360 that no one was aware of and more areas for us to push."
"We're pushing way more enemies, way more particles, the environments are a lot more dense than on previous games," added Waylon Brinck, art director of People Can Fly, the lead studio on Judgment. "Our rendering engine, we've even added a few new features that allow us to do richer lighting, more dynamic lighting, darker darks, brighter brights. It's the most colourful Gears game ever, which feels weird to say. But I think it also has the richest darkest mood out of any Gears game since the first one. So yeah, it was all hands on deck optimising this thing, we squeezed a lot more out of it."
Gears of War: Judgment is out on March 22nd exclusively for Xbox 360.
Do you fancy playing upcoming prequel Gears of War: Judgment early, but won't be able to make it to any of the exclusive GAME lock-in events taking place throughout February? Don't fret - you'll still get a chance to try before you buy thanks to a downloadable demo.
The 2Gb demo will be available from March 19th, three days ahead of the game's retail release. You'll need Xbox LIVE Gold Membership to download it. The demo contains the multiplayer Overrun mode, a class-based team game that has been compared to multiplayer online battle arena (or MOBA) games such as League of Legends. Generously, any XP you earn while playing the demo can be carried over into the full game, provided you pick it up in the week of release.
Gears of War: Judgment drops for Xbox 360 on March 22nd. Check with your local GAME store to take part in the special lock-in preview events, which kick off from February 3rd.
GAME customers will be able to get hours of hands-on play time with the upcoming blockbuster Gears of War: Judgment at a series of special late night "lock in" events. The events will be taking place at branches across the UK from February 7th to 27th, over a month before the game's March 22nd release date. Food and drink will be provided, and you'll get to hang out with fellow fans and GAME staff while experiencing one of 2013's biggest games before everyone else. What's not to like?
The game is a prequel to the existing Gears of War trilogy, and finds Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly taking over from Epic Games. Expect all the action and mayhem you expect from the Gears series, but with a faster, punchier twist. There will also be brand new co-operative and multiplayer modes.
If you want to be among the lucky few to sample the game early, you need to move fast as places will be limited. Simply visit or contact your local GAME store to sign up.
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Get your free Gears of War: Judgment DLC (03/04/2013)
Gears of War: Judgment, which came out just a few weeks ago, is already getting a new game mode and an extra multiplayer map at no extra cost…
Gears of War: Judgment - Review (21/03/2013)
While Judgment may technically be more of the same, it couldn't feel more different. The mechanics are familiar but everything around them has been shuffled, remixed and shaken up…
Gears of War: Judgment review roundup (19/03/2013)
Gears of War: Judgment, the fourth entry in Microsoft's beefy third-person shooter, is here. But what have the critics made of it?…
Gears of War dev says there's still j… (08/03/2013)
The hype may be building for the next generation of consoles but Epic Games, still thinks there's more that can be done with the current hardware…
Gears of War: Judgment demo announced… (29/01/2013)
Fancy playing upcoming prequel Gears of War: Judgment early, but won't be able to make it to any of the exclusive GAME lock-in events taking place throughout February?…
Play Gears of War: Judgment first at … (22/01/2013)
GAME customers will be able to get hours of hands-on play time with the upcoming blockbuster Gears of War: Judgment at a series of special late night 'lock in' events…
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