Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No Dom in sight, still good

I believe that I have compared favorite genres or series to comfort food before. Everyone has a game or two that just puts them in a good mood. Maybe it's an old game and the nostalgia itself is enough, maybe it is a newer property that just hits all of the right buttons. For me, and I am not embarrassed to say this, it is Gears of War. Please note that this only includes the single player side as I have not played any of the multiplayer since the first game. Because I am scared. And without skill.

Gears is the perfect action game for me. The stop and pop pacing is never out of control fast but never boring, weapons pack a punch regardless of their size, enemies behave intelligently and, because I am a whore, the games look really damn good. I was rather excited to finally get to play the last Gears game we are going to get this generation, and I was mostly satisfied.

No, this is not Gears of War 3, but what is. Judgement does not have the same scope, the same desperate feeling, and Baird is not a good replacement for Fenix. The game is also too short. People Can Fly have put their own spin on the Gears motif, creating a very episodic game with little to no downtime between fights. Perhaps I was supposed to play through a level once then go back and do it again with the optional 'declassified' requirements, but who has time for that. The optional requirements almost always made the level more interesting so I took them on from the start. Ranging from weapon and ammo restrictions to strict time limits, they kept the more mundane set pieces exciting. I just wish there were about twice as many levels to be excited about.

The other place Judgement stumbles when compared to its predecessors is enemy AI. Over and over I had locust wander right past me because they were focused on one of my teammates. I had waves end with one enemy left, hiding in plain site, waiting for the next wave to begin. Worst of all I had my teammates ignore me instead of defending me. They were pretty good at finding their way back when I needed to be resurrected, but guard me from the dozen locust all shooting at my exposed back while I try to pry open a door? No dice, suck it up, tough guy.

These are small complaints that did not keep me from enjoying myself for the whole game and I was sad to see it end as quickly as it did. Gears of War, more than any other Microsoft exclusive, solidified my need for both major consoles. It is the Xbox's Uncharted and I hope it comes back, better than ever, for the new hardware.

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