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Gears of War: Judgment Preview

Nick_Tan By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

I suppose you want me to tell you that I always loved you.

I must be in the twilight zone, because I was not only sent to cover Halo 4 several months ago and now Gears of War: Judgment at E3. When did I become the Xbox 360-exclusive shooter guy at Game Revolution? It's just about the furthest thing I usually play, but of course I'm not going to say that when Cliff Bleszinski is sitting in the same room as me. Don't get me wrong, he's an extremely nice guy... when he's not wielding a chainsaw on stage.

And that's what this fourth installment in the Gears of War series is really about: more chainsaws. And by that I mean that gruff, raw, unhinged combat that fans can't get enough of. With the satisfying but bittersweet ending of Gears of War 3, developing a sequel doesn't make much sense, so Epic Games have decided to return to the days of yore with newly crowned main character Damon Baird, who's now 14 years younger but still as sarcastically blunt as ever. Hey, that's what we love about him. Never change.

The trouble, though, is that back then his heroism wasn't as appreciated. Baird is seen standing trial for seemingly disobeying orders and he must exonerate himself by justifying his past actions, which you will experience first-hand as the player. As a note of interest, getting through a stage potentially declassifies some mission details that Baird may have not recalled exactly, like whether a mech was actually in the level or not. Whether this will impact replays of the same stage or right on the spot isn't clear, but it's certainly a light-hearted way to sustain the story concept of memory recollection.

Besides, Baird will need as much help as he can muster. Not only can the battlefield now support even more Locusts on screen than ever before, but the AI has been improved to adapt to your playstyle. The intensity of the combat has been ramped up further, with Cliffy B apparently inspired by the difficulty of Dark Souls and how it doesn't handhold the player or cut the action with a cut-scene often. Expect Gears of War: Judgment to do the same. Even Cliffy himself admits that his team of friends frequently die on Hardcore.

Saving details for Horde mode for later, Epic Games also revealed the new multiplayer mode called Overrun, a versus match between two teams of five between Cogs and Locusts. More importantly, it's class-based, with COGs split into medic, scout, engineer, and soldier and Locusts more diversified into ticks, wretches, and grenadiers. As the Locust team continues to destroy the COG's fortifications, its members can upgrade into corpsers and maulers. Each team switches sides and the win goes to the Locust team who can destroy the opposing COGs' generator the fastest. Cliff Bleszinski didn't want to reveal too much more, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this class-based system translate to Horde mode as well.

Gears of War: Judgment arrives early 2013.

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