Review: Gears of War: Judgment knows storytelling, but slips on delivery

Gears of War Judgment Review"War, war never changes." Soldiers fall below their authorities and their guidelines without question, while naysayers are deemed "weak links" and stripped of any past recognition. It's a noble system, but what happens when one is faced with disrespecting their higher ups to save the very soldiers they fight alongside? This is Gears of War: Judgment, and EPIC has set out to reinvent their blockbuster series without their bulked hero, Marcus Fenix, and without a story that falls after the events of Gears of War 3. It's a different path for sure, but an honorable one at that – one fans will welcome with open arms.

Yes, Gears of War: Judgment is a prequel, and yes it's centered around the always-cunning Damon Baird and his thrashball-kicking squad mate, Augustus Cole, but it's also so much more. Whereas most prequels fall prey to an unexplainable story that drags on far too long, including characters that try too hard to develop, Gears of War: Judgment arguably tells its most straightforward narrative that gives fans insight as to Sera's demise shortly after Emergence Day with characters that interact with one another in an efficacious manner.

Judgment's story actually begins near the end of the campaign, which gives explanation for Kilo Squad – comprised of Baird, Cole, and newcomers Sofia Hendricks, and Garron Paduk's – arrest and military tribune for disobeying orders from the COG's higher-ups. The narrative then unfolds through flashbacks that are used as testimonies during their trial. The idea itself isn't revolutionary nor progressive, but it's done so well that you're inclined to care, especially in such a way for the Gears of War series. And as you're presented with these personal testimonies from each character, done successfully through third-person takeover of the Kilo member giving their story, you'll get sucked in to a plot that's easily summed up as a "mission gone bad."

The success within this formula is undoubtedly found in the interaction of each squad member, and how you come to cognize them. The camaraderie of the group isn't found within friendship, but differencing obstacles each must pass, which in essence brings them closer by the closing credits. Sofia, for instance, is a young cadet who's keen on following orders. Throughout the campaign she must fight her instincts to follow her COG commanders for the "greater good" that Kilo Squad's after.

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