Friday, March 22, 2013

easy fixes to Gears of War, Judgement

It’s easy to critique a game once it’s finished. Sometimes I feel bad for developers and game writers who are at the whim of fickle critics. Often times, a great game is bashed by a few notable websites and blogs, resulting in massive sales losses. That’s the way the current reviewing system works. I’d love to see a blog that reviews games weeks after they are out, after playing the campaign through twice, and once all the hype is over.

Playing through Gears of War, Judgment, I’m pretty happy with the gameplay and story. Tom Bissell did a great job bringing a fresh perspective(s) to the franchise  It’s not the most unique plot, reminiscent of Halo Reach with its “let’s find a big bomb and take out the big bad guy”. What sets it apart is the four perspective shifts of the Kilo team as they recall their mission. I love the narration of the characters as your play each role. It gives the campaign variety and depth. What I’m asking myself as I blast through the very tough and often times blood soaked levels is, is the variety enough? Rather, what opportunities were missed?

One easy one is Kilo squad, as they are in court and recalling their mission and defending their acts, look as fresh and polished as when I started the game. It’s a big detail when you consider Max Paine’s (3) transition and Jason Brody’s transformation in Far Cry 3. These were grizzly battles they just suffered through. At the very least, make the four members of Kilo squad look more and more battle-worn through the brutal campaign. Finally, when you see them in court right after the sick battles, they should look rough. Dented armor, blood on their uniforms, anything.

It would have been nice for one of the new characters to take real damage during one of the fights. Maybe a character would have been inadvertently responsible for the injury, sending the teammate into a hot zone only to be pinned down, hurt, and rescued later. This would have been an easy way to add an emotional layer to a pretty unemotional plot. Paduk’s burns scar could have come from the very mission they were just on. It would have been an easy “ah ha” moment when the player finally finds out… “oh, that’s how Paduk was injured. I was there for that.” Or, more powerfully… “shit, I was responsible for that.”

What I found boring about the gameplay was that there was no distinct difference between the characters. What if Baird’s aimed assault weapons more accurately. What is Cole could swing two grenades at a time and lob a devastating explosion. Maybe the missions that Cole narrates are particularly hard so there are more opportunities for grenade throwing. What if Paduk’s sniper accuracy was doubled with more ammo allowed. What is Sofia could slide into cover and run faster as well as melee with more effect. There’s so many possibilities to hurts.

Overall, I liked playing the campaign, but there wasn’t enough to set it apart from the original three games. It’s a tough balance, I know. Developers can’t change the game too much because fans of the series would rebel. People Can Fly and Epic did takes some risks with Gears of War, Judgment, but did they take enough? 

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