My problems with Gears of War: Judgment go pretty much all the way back to the concept stage, really even before its announcement. That is: making another Gears of War on this generation of consoles. It’s a good game that does some new things, I’m just not sure it’s a necessary one.
The problem really goes all the way back to the release of Gears of War 3 — I still don’t really feel like I need another Gears game after that one. It’s a problem I feel plagues almost all franchises with multiplayer modes but I’m gonna just focus on Gears here.
Gears 3 for me feels like one of those games with real value packed onto the disc. I feel like I could probably keep playing it for another four years and not get tired, similar to how I spent most of the Gamecube years playing Super Smash Bros. Melee. I feel like bringing out another game just a year and a half later deflates the impact and splits up the playerbase.
In order for Judgment to really justify itself in my eyes it would have to be either very different or the definitive upgrade to dethrone Gears 3, of which it is neither (or kind of in-between).
Judgment does a lot of things to further gamify the experience of Gears, which enhances the main reason why I even like Gears — because compared to most other shooters today it feels much more comfortable with the fact that it’s a game. Things like the declassified missions, earning stars, and unlocking prize boxes just give me more reason to keep playing the game, and developer People Can Fly did a great job balancing those features out with the franchise’s core mechanics.
The declassified missions — extra conditions under which you can finish sections of the campaign, added variety to the campaign experience. It also finally got me to use a lot of weapons that I’d avoided throughout the series like Boltlok Pistols and Sawed-Off Shotguns. For me personally, this really helped me diversify my playstyle and ultimately have more fun with Gears games in general.
This along with the prize boxes and stars (themselves a good incentive to play on higher difficulties) give Judgment a more fun arcade experience. That by itself though doesn’t really justify another $60 game if you ask me.
The main reason I feel the way I do about Gears 3 is horde mode. The evolution of horde in Gears 3 is one of my favorite multiplayer modes of this console generation and right now the sole reason I even still use Xbox Live Gold. When I said I could probably play Gears 3 for another four years, I really just meant horde.
Judgmenet’s lateral path for the mode — Survival, is definitely different, but I don’t think it scratches the same itch. Having more structure and an actual objective is cool, and the class system definitely succeeds in eliciting a Team Fortress 2-like feel. However, those classes also limit what weapons you can use which in my opinion sucked out a lot of the fun of horde.
The new Overrun mode may be fun, but I personally didn’t want to mess with it — one of the reasons I play horde so much is to get away from human competition. Enough people at least seem to want old horde back and are not accepting Overrun as a replacement.
The way I see it, there are only two things that could really tear me away from Gears 3 — a full-blown Gears of War 4 on next generation hardware, or a PC version of Gears 3 where I can play horde on dedicated servers.