One of the leading franchises of E3 2012 was Gears of War. The newly announced Gears of War: Judgment turned more than a few heads at the show due to its surprise announcement just days before the expo began. This game features Damon Baird as the main protagonist and he is accompanied by series fan favorite character Augustus Cole. The single player story is set 15 years before the events of the first installment of the Gears of War series and it will also feature multiplayer. We were able to get our hands-on on a new multiplayer mode called Overrun over the course of E3 and all we have to say is… WOW!
First off you are probably thinking, how could a series this good get any better? Well you aren’t wrong for thinking that way because those were the first thoughts that run through our minds as well. From the looks of the trailer it looked like another Gears game; the graphics just as stunning, story just as solid and the multiplayer just as brutal. All of those qualities listed are absolutely correct about this game however it had one stand alone quality that made this game one of the bests at the show; a mode called Overrun.
Overrun is a multiplayer mode played with a team of 5 COG soldiers against a team of 5 Locust. The match is similar to that of a round of Beast mode except this is players against players, no AI’s required. The way the mode is set up is that the COG’s each having a class and a special ability to help protect this power generator while the Locust creatures all want to destroy the generator. The player can take control of one out of four COG character choices and their choice of one of the Locust monsters. Each character, Locust or COG, are put in the game to carry out a specific task depending on their ability while keeping the main goal in mind, protect or destroy the generator.
We started out our game as the COG team. One of our staff took control of the Scout class which featured new character, Garron Paduk, with his Longshot and Snub Pistol. This character was in charge of the beacon grenades which allowed players to see an outline of the enemies in range. The grenade allowed players to see through cover so that they knew exactly what move their prey was about to take. Another staff member took control of the Engineer class. This class had Baird as the playable character and he was equip with a Gnasher and Blowtorch. The player who controls Baird job is to fix the fortifications that the Locusts are trying to destroy. These fortifications are there to protect the generator from being destroyed. Once a fortification is destroyed there is no way to get it back. Baird also had the ability to deploy Sentry Turret. These turret’s are best used as a way to ward off enemies as the player is repairing damaged fortifications.
The other players took control of the Soldier Class featuring Cole and the Medic Class with Sofia. These two classes also had specific abilities. Cole was armed with a Lancer and Boomshot; having the ability to deploy ammo crates for his team. One of the neater things Cole could do is deploy ammo near an Engineer to assure that Baird’s blowtorch had infinite ammo. Sofia also had an extremely important role for the entire team’s survival, the ability to heal. Sofia has a Lancer and Snub Pistol at her disposal. Her Grenades, Stim Gas, also have the power to heal her downed team mates. Each COG soldier plays a huge role in the entire team’s survival which makes this multiplayer match about more than just mindless killing.
The next round each team changed sides, if you were COG to start you now take control of the Locust destroyers and vice versa. As a member of the Locust team you are given the choice of which Locust you would like to control. As you get more kills and destroy more fortifications, more Locust types unlock. Starting off the game it is smart to choose a smaller Locust that can easily destroy fortifications and earn quick points to unlock the larger Locust members. Starting off the game a Ticker was a good choice. The Ticker can easily chip away at fortification life and if a COG gets too close it is easy to self destruct to earn points for killing a COG. Some of the smaller Locust choice included the Wretch, Grenadier and Kantus.
The Wretch has the classic gears ability of stunning enemies with its loud screech as well as being able to leap over hazards and climbing up perches. It is smart to travel in a Wretch pack it was easy to stun enemies for a maximum amount of time in order to let the larger tier enemies to make a move on the generator. The Grenadier has a Lancer and can ride on Bloodmounts. The Grenadier has a Frag Grenade and is useful when it is thrown near objects that can cause a larger explosion for the greatest damage. Kantus is the last bottom tier Locust and come equip with the Hammerburst rifle and it can heal the units around it. The key to a successful run with the Kantus is to protect the larger Locusts, which brings us to the Champion Tier Locust; this includes the Bloodmount, Mauler, Serapede and Corpser.
The Bloodmount starts off bare backed so that another teammate controlling a Grenadier or Kantus could hope on its back. These creatures have the role of melee enemies as well as destroying fortifications. The Bloodmount can speed up the recovery time for whoever is riding its abilities. The Corpser has tough melee attacks and can destroy fortifications in the blink of an eye, it can also move underground. The Serapede is protected by an exoskeleton. It can only be damaged from the back. These insect like creature fests on barriers and can spit poison for enemies cleverly standing far away.
One of the biggest and baddest of the bunch has got to be the Mauler. These huge monsters carry a shield that can be spun to turn enemy fire back at them and the power to destroy fortifications much faster than other Locust. We were fortunate enough to save enough points to become a Mauler in our Hands-on demo; this creature can do a world of damage! We moved in on the generator with this massive beast and deducted the energy rapidly. There was just a sliver of life left on the generator with seconds of the game left to spare when the tiniest explosion of the Ticker won the round!
The controls for Gears of War: Judgment was different than that of the previous Gears of War titles but it still felt natural in the hands of a gamer. Gears of War has always had unique controls and now the game seems to be taking a more main stream route with them. Instead of using the D-pad to change weapons like before it is Y to change them. There were just small changes to the way the game was controlled and the changes oddly felt natural.
Gears of War: Judgment is just what the series needs. Gears of War is an extremely successful franchise that needs no recognition of its greatness however this game takes multiplayer to a whole new level. Overrun is like mixing the average run and gun shooter with the necessity of using strategy to complete objective. We can see players joining together to take out the opposing team rather than making the game about who is the best at killing the rest. Gears of War: Judgment’s Overrun mode is a hardcore game that anyone can enjoy. Everyone has a specific role and it’s not about individually being the best but about taking out the other team. This game will be a hit and the Overrun multiplayer is a game changer for the video game industry.