Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox360)

Written by: / / No Comments

Gears of War: Judgment was announced in the lead-up to E3 and featured during Microsoft’s E3 press conference last week. One of the game’s multiplayer modes was on show at the publisher’s booth, and many attendees happily queued for over two hours to get the chance to go hands-on with Overrun.

Judgment is a prequel game, it plays out 14 years before the events of Gears of War 1, taking players back to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day for the first time. The game is said to be the “most intense and challenging” Gears of War game yet, with an exciting campaign and highly competitive new multiplayer modes. Gears of War: Judgment will launch worldwide, exclusively for the Xbox 360, in early 2013.

Gears of War: Judgment Screenshot 1

Judgment stars Damon Baird with the story focussing on a battle that went wrong at Halvo Bay. The campaign centres on a group of soldiers known as Kilo Squad, a team led by Baird and Augustus Cole, or as he’s known to us “The Cole Train.” You’ll also meet new characters Sofia Hendricks and Garron Paduk as the squad tries to save the besieged city of Halvo Bay from a terrifying new enemy.

Players will be able to play the campaign co-operatively with up to three friends on Xbox LIVE (ie. four players in total), exploring a new side of the saga as you see the planet Sera on the brink of annihilation from a new Locust menace. The game also features a ‘Mission Declassification’ system, a first for the Gears series. This new system allows players to experience more challenging gameplay scenarios and achievements by uncovering critical information during the campaign.

Microsoft is promising a “faster and more intense combat” experience, one that “gets back to basics, captures the true essence of Gears combat and introduces a new style of combat that’s faster-paced and more action-packed than ever before.” The new Smart Spawn System (S3) will no doubt assist in this goal. Featuring in both the campaign and multiplayer action, the new system will ensure that each encounter is unique and new because types, timing and locations of enemies will change with each new encounter.

El33tonline got the opportunity to attend a presentation for Gears of War: Judgment given by none other than Rod Fergusson, Director of Production at Epic Games, at E3 last week. Fergusson gave us a brief introduction to the new multiplayer mode OverRun, which he thought could best be described as “taking the co-op Horde mode from Gears of War 3, the co-op Beast mode from Gears of War 3 and smashing them together to make them competitive.”

Epic Games' Rod Fergusson

OverRun is one of the new multiplayer experiences that we can look forward to in Judgment. It’s a new class-based competitive mode where you will be tasked to defend, where five player teams alternate between playing as Locust and COG soldiers in a head-to-head objective-orientated battle.

Incidentally this is the first time that the Gears of War series will feature a class-based, competitive multiplayer experience, and together with the deep player progression system promises to deliver an addictive experience. Fergusson then handed us over to Baird who showed us exactly what OverRun was through a video that featured his classic, humourous style.

“Welcome to Overrun, a brand new competitive way to play Gears of War that’s available only in Judgment. This is Lieutenant Damon Baird walking you through your training. The concept is simple, two teams of five duke it out over a generator. The COG needs to protect its generator while the Locust need to destroy it. In every match you’ll get to play as both COG defenders and locust attackers.”

Gears of War: Judgment Screenshot 2

“Who can destroy the generator the fastest, well that’s up to you. Whoever does, wins. As a COG defender, you need to choose a class. Each class comes with a specific weapon load-out and nifty unique ability.”

First up is the Engineer, who according to Baird is the “most important person on the battlefield, also the handsomest.” Engineers can deploy sentries to defend against the Locust, Baird recommends placing them before you repair damaged fortifications. To repair you’ll need to swop to your blowtorch and fire at the nearest barrier. A key thing to remember is that no one in OverRun can build a new fortification so once you lose it, it’s gone.

The Soldier class is next up, and like Cole brings sheer fire power to the fight. The Soldier’s special ability is tossing out ammo crates to the rest of his team and, according to Baird in OverRun you’re going to need all the ammo you can get. The Medic class has a handy gas grenade that not only heals team mates but it also revives those who have been knocked down. The Scout is the final class, able to take the high ground by climbing into perches accessible only to him. The Scout also has a special tagging beacon that when thrown identifies nearby enemies to the team, even through walls. This is powerful since a tagged enemy takes extra damage when shot.

Gears of War: Judgment Screenshot 3

Baird then moved on to talk about the Locust, which each come with their own special talents and abilities. As a Locust you earn points for the damage you inflict on enemies and defences alike. You’ll then be able to use these points to unlock even bigger, badder and uglier Locust.

The Ticker is first up, he can chomp defences, self destruct and has the ability to dash really fast…plus Baird thinks he’s cute. The Wretch can leap over defences, climb into the Scout’s perches and stun opponents with its scream. The Grenadier on the other hand can throw frag grenades, and if you get him up on Blood Mount he can toss those frags even faster.

The Kantus is the Locust medic and can heal everyone in the immediate vicinity. His healing ability is greatly boosted by riding on a Blood Mount. Speaking of the Blood Mount, he can carry the Grenadier and Kantus to the front, and he also quickens the recharge of his passenger’s special abilities. The Corpser’s armoured front legs make it incredibly hard to kill, and it can also burrow underground and duck right under cog fortifications.

Gears of War: Judgment Screenshot 4

The Serepede attacks with its mandibles, it can also rear up and spit poison at distant enemies. The only way to kill it is to shoot it in the butt! The Mauler is the final enemy, wielding a giant shield which he can spin to deflect any and all incoming fire. The Mauler’s spinning shield can also chop a nearby Gear into tiny pieces.

Baird went on to talk about team work and re-iterated that players have to work together if they want to win. His advice is to take advantage of your abilities, support your teammates, and co-ordinate your attacks. Remember to win the match you’ll need to protect your generator and destroy theirs as fast as possible.

Fergusson then explained how the full game will see you taking on multiple objectives, not just the generator. For the purposes of time, we were given just this objective to tackle in the demo. In the full game you can also pick whatever class you want when you’re the COG, but Epic Games wanted to make sure the teams were diverse for the demo so they had assigned stations to different classes. All special abilities (the spinning shield, deploying turret, throwing grenades etc) can be activated by pressing the left bumper. The special abilities recharge really quickly (6 – 10 seconds depending on ability) so Fergusson recommended that we use it a lot, because that’s what your class is for.

Gears of War: Judgment Banner

Another big change between Gears of War is how you actually swap your weapons – it’s no longer on the D-pad it’s actually the Y button. You’ll tap Y to switch between primary weapons, something that is really important if you’re the Engineer because you’ll want to swop from your shotgun to your blowtorch to do repairs quickly and can do this by tapping Y.

Look forward to more game modes being announced over the coming months, but in the meantime make sure you check out this teaser trailer for Gears of War: Judgment and share it with your friends to earn Baird’s goggles for your Avatar. You can watch the full trailer for Judgment below.