The Gears of War series has come a long way since it was originally released in 2006. Gamers have followed Marcus Phoenix on his journey to stop the Locust invasion over the course of three games, most of which came as a delight to Xbox 360 owners. But what came before Marcus and Delta Squad, the Horde and Jancinto, and Adam and Azura? Judgment. The latest entry into the series serves as a prequel to the three other games, and shows players some of the events that lead up to the original Gears of War.
Who: Developer: People Can Fly Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Epic Games passed off development of Judgment to its subsidiary People Can Fly, who you may know from such games like Painkiller and Bulletstorm. Their extensive knowledge of action games is apparent as they take on one of Microsoft's biggest franchises, making sure not to tweak it too much to keep the fans happy.
What: Gears of War: Judgment tells the story of Lieutenant Damon Baird and his squad as they defend themselves to the COG military tribunal. The gameplay is very essentially the same cover-based combat that has made Gears the franchise it is today, but the twist in Judgment is that you get to experience it as multiple characters. In addition to Lt. Baird, players can take control of three different COG soldiers, each with their own tale to tell as they plead for their lives with the tribunal. As you relive their stories, you get a much better sense of the early Gears mythology, as Judgment helps bridge some of the gaps between Emergence Day and the first battles in the original Gears of War.
Where: The COG soldiers in Judgment will be hunting down Locusts exclusively on the Xbox 360.
Why: If you've already committed to the first three Gears of War games, then Judgment should be the icing on the cake. With the additional playable characters, the new take on the game's narrative structure, and the expansion of the franchise's backstory, Judgment does a solid job of serving as a prequel, while still being fun to play. People Can Fly have tweaked the multiplayer mode quite a bit, but they have also added in two new modes, Free-for-all and OverRun, which should keep Gears fans entertained online for quite a while. Judgment might not be the best place to start off playing the series, for that you should head back to the original Gears (which you probably should have played already if you own an Xbox360), but it is a quality compliment to this already established franchise that fans will appreciate from beginning to end.