What’s up everybody, the illustrious grandmaster of video game journalism here – yours truly, Papa Dom. Like most people, I have a sibling, and we grew up playing video games together. This particular sibling and I frequently talk about video games in our time spent together, and I figured I’d dictate some of those talks into a new article series I like to call “Bro-Op”. We’re going to have dueling reviews and editorials, from games, to music, to movies. Sometimes we’ll agree, sometimes we won’t – but that’s what makes this even more awesome. Kevin’s Twitter is @DoughboyyFreshh – and as always, mine is @DomMahoney – let us know what you think! For this inaugural edition of Bro-Op – we’re starting with Kevin “Doughboy” Mahoney. Here we go!
I’ve been a huge, huge fan of the Gears of War franchise from the first installment. Like most fans, when I heard that Gears of War: Judgment would be headed by People Can Fly, and not solely by Epic Games – I was cautiously optimistic, and knew there would be some big changes. Luckily, right from the very start of Judgment, I was thrilled, and playing through People Can Fly’s new campaign was electrifying. The newly added “Declassified Missions” were undoubtedly my favorite new feature to the franchise, and the polish on an already great combat system was very welcome.
After the ending of Gears of War 3, I definitely know that I’m not alone in thinking that Epic Games could’ve been clearer on a few major plot points in the series. In my opinion, Epic should’ve cleared a few things up before making a prequel – but the release of Judgment actually impressed me to the point where I can actually say I’d rather have Epic/People Can Fly go deeper into the other events that occurred around Emergence Day and before the beginning of the first Gears of War, rather than move forward after the end of the original trilogy. As a fan of the books, and someone who’s really passionate about the backstory of the franchise, I’d actually really want to see is a game based on the time of the Pendulum Wars. At that point in the series, the COG was fighting the COG, and not the Locust, which has been the central opposing force in every game in the series thus far.
This change of pace would be interesting because it’d bring on new enemies to fight, new types of environments, and most of all -new characters that Epic can further weave into the series, rather than ‘one and done’ their personalities, and give us only 3 story chapters to decide if we like them or not before killing them off. Another big reason I’d really enjoy Epic bringing us deeper into the events before the original, is to hear more about the characters we already know and love. Karen Traviss’ book, Gears of War: Aspho Fields, introduced Dom Santiago’s brother Carlos, who had a longtime bond with Marcus Fenix. It’d be interesting to see Carlos brought to life in video game form, and give Marcus and Dom’s partnership a new dynamic. Some of the best video game duos have a rivalry factor, and including Dom’s brother as a ‘third wheel’ between Marcus and Dom would be interesting to see in the midst of a battlefield.
I do have faith that the series could still entertain without the COG fighting the Locust all the time, but only time will tell. Either way though, I know I’ll still buy whatever PCF/Epic sells me, no matter what’s decided for the next game. What do you think? Would you rather see Epic/PCF add on to Gears of War 3’s ending, back up and fill in some plot holes, or stick with prequels? Let us know in the comments, or give me your feedback on Twitter, @DoughboyyFreshh! Thanks for reading!
Just like Kevin, I’ve been a huge fan of the Gears franchise since playing the first installment. My little brother and I have played countless hours of Gears co-op, both story and competitive – and it’s safe to say that the original trilogy has a visceral, pulse pounding experience that can’t be matched.. It’s for this reason that I was so disappointed with Judgment, and was almost immediately turned off from the first chapter in the story, and first match of multiplayer.
From the initial announcement of Judgment, I was puzzled as to why Damon Baird was chosen to be the main character. The big guys at Epic were talking about Baird being the fan favorite character in the original trilogy according to a survey, which is something I still have a hard time believing. While I don’t hate Baird’s character, and he has some funny, smart-assed lines – I don’t love him enough to care about his story, and that made me reluctant to rush out and grab Judgment from the time it was released. Baird is known to be whiny, sometimes even cowardly throughout the series – which is a gigantic contrast to the ultra-burly, bro-tastic heroes of the original series, Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago.
Judgment tells the story of Emergence Day, or E-Day as it’s commonly abbreviated, and follows Baird as he becomes a war hero during the first contact conflict with the Locust horde. If Baird’s achievements and heroics are so revered and well-known, why is it then that Marcus Fenix garners 120% of the spotlight from his fellow soldiers during the original trilogy? I don’t buy the fact that Baird would be completely ignored and overshadowed by Marcus, if Baird was the ‘breakout’ hero of E-Day, regardless of Fenix’s infamy he gained during The Pendulum Wars and the battle at Aspho Fields.
Marcus’ accomplishments are recognized by every nameless COG grunt he encounters in the first three games, and though he seems reluctant to accept any recognition, he still casts a huge shadow over Baird in every installment. Granted, Baird isn’t always a part of Marcus’ company, but in the bigger picture of things, the continuity of Baird’s heroics is practically nonexistent. I understand that Epic/PCF wanted to create a new series, and needed to create some new lore in order to do that – but don’t act like 80% of the people playing Judgment haven’t finished the entire trilogy already. Aside from all of that – I just can’t stomach the changes made by Epic/PCF as far as environment and the control scheme.
Throughout the Gears of War trilogy, we were introduced to a buttery-smooth control scheme, crisp visuals, and a lighting system that always propelled Gears to the head of the pack of the most impressive looking Xbox 360 games. Each new title made incremental changes, tweaks, and improvements to all of the things I’ve listed, but always kept the soul of the game the same – so that no matter which game you’ve played, you can pick it up and not miss a beat. Judgment, however, has made some jarring changes to the HUD and control scheme – some as simple as the way you change weapons. For a game with as notoriously steep of a learning curve as Gears of War has, I find it beyond frustrating to pick up a controller and attempt to wade through the mess of a control scheme that Epic/PCF has delivered to us. Also, the graphics and frame rate, not to mention the smoothness of the animations alone, has taken a huge, glaring step back. I’m not saying I don’t want to see Epic/PCF make another Gears game – I’m saying that Judgment didn’t need to be made. As Kevin mentioned, the story still has more loose ends than I care to list – and in my opinion Judgment has taken more steps back than it has forward. If Epic/PCF decide to make a sequel to Judgment – and they most likely will – I sincerely hope they take a long, hard look at their source material, because the fans deserve better.
So Kevin loved Judgment, and can’t wait to see what’s next. In the meantime, I’m cringing over here, and am afraid to see where the series goes from here – but what do you think? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter: @DomMahoney / @DoughboyyFreshh