By Shuborno 0 Comments
When Judgment was announced, it was a surprise to me that there would be a new Gears game after the very complete package of Gears of War 3. I don't agree with but understand wanting to squeeze more money out of a franchise, but with a well-populated, comprehensive multiplayer suite, Gears of War 3 was sufficient to take us to the new generation.
That being said, I've loved all Gears campaigns in the past, so when the Games on Demand sale for Judgment came up, I was willing to take a look at this entry. Unfortunately, with my parenthood-based time constraints, multiplayer is the thing I now have a chance to dig in to sooner since the per-session commitment is low.
The transition from COG vs Locust to COG vs COG is jarring and frankly unwelcome. The Locust are a great enemy race: they look monstrous and powerful, and it is equally satisfying to be one of the monsters as it is to be the seemingly fragile humans taking them down. I've softened with parenthood, and I actually find it less satisfying to be a human avatar killing humans - I can't enjoy the game in the same way. (I don't have this problem in, say, Halo 4, because it's not as violent and avatar identities are more obscured.) From a purely mechanical standpoint, losing that differentiation in Judgment also introduces ambiguity in the player silhouettes. Good thing friendly fire isn't an issue or I'd be killing my teammates constantly.
After getting thoroughly demolished initially due to my rusty Gears skills, I moved over to Overrun, which at least corrects the issue I had with COGs fighting. However, the Locust spawning is akin to Beast mode, and the COG spawning is class-based, so the matchups are asymmetrical. That's not a problem in and of itself, but the learning curve of asymmetrical team power along with new objectives was too much for me to digest without some practice. I'll have to return to this mode once my core skills are tuned to where they used to be for Gears 3.
I hit my stride with Domination mode. There are three static capture points per map. It's easy to understand in terms of objectives and strategy and draws enemies together in battle. I started to be successful with the right team members. Most of my 9 levels so far came from playing this mode.
I do have a concern there. There are only 4 maps for Domination/Deathmatch. That's absurd to me for a game that was preceded by a package as complete as Gears 3. After a round on each of them, I'm not necessarily fond of all of the maps either. If a large player base is expected to migrate to Judgment, Epic should have considered that there should be some content to migrate to. If the sub-1000 player counts (sub-100 in most cases) in most gametypes, I think the players have called their bluff. I purchased this game so I'll explore it more, but part of me just wants to switch back to Gears 3 to see if the players are at least still there.
I know there is a Season Pass for more content, but the DLC-specify playlists had less than a few dozen players playing! Perhaps the locked-out-to-paying-users VIP playlist houses all of the players but I certainly won't spend $20 to find out. If we're to compare Xbox 360 flagships, I also purchased Halo 4 well after it was released, and it has plenty of maps out of the box and a fairly large player base on the core game.
I'm sad to be complaining so much about a Gears game, but I was really looking forward to having a go-to multiplayer experience on demand, the same way I did with Gears 3. The under-execution on Judgment makes me feel like this experience won't have legs, and that is unfortunate. I don't want to say that there's no space for smaller scoped games with experimental ideas. What I will say is that there isn't room for forcing degradation of multiplayer userbases when so many games are already vying for our time.
I hope in another 10 levels I'll feel differently. I hope to return to Overrun and have it "click" so that I can enjoy a seemingly deeper mode than I am used to in competitive Gears multiplayer.