5. Baird Is the New Brent: Even a Studio Can Do Bad Copycat Characters
After Planet of the Apes became a box office hit, a sequel was put into production ASAP, but lead Charlton Heston was tired of those damn dirty apes. So he agreed to reprise his role as Col. Taylor only if he could have his role vastly reduced and blow up the world. (Which he does: great ending!) For the majority of the film, however, we follow some dude name Brent (James Franciscus) who looks and sounds too much like Col. Taylor.
The lead character in Judgment is Damon Baird, who's been in the series since the first game. He doesn't really look like Marcus Fenix since he's got blonde hair and goggles and yet, without Fenix in the center of it all, Baird sounds an awful lot like Fenix. They are two different actors: Fenix is played by John DiMaggio (the voice of Bender in Futurama) and Baird is Fred Tatasciore, but I'll be a monkey's uncle if they don't sound nearly identical to me, which is strange. I mean, if you're not gonna show us how Fenix got into that prison in the opening of Gears of War, fine, but Baird feels like Brent: an also-ran.
4. A Court Scene? Really? Zzzzzzz.
The structure of Judgment has four soldiers from Kilo company: Baird, Cole, Sofia and Paduk standing trial for disobeying a direct order. Explosions and the Horde are everywhere. As we hear each character's testimony we shoot our way through the corresponding level. ("Then we hit the mall!" - yes, there really is a mall level.) I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure I read a similar tale on a Buffy board, all taking place at the library with Giles listening in on the point of view of such second-tier characters like Andrew, Warren, Jonathan and that dude who Dawn had a crush on.
3. The Score Doesn't Quite Thrill Like the Original
Gears has always been an Aliens knock-off (not Alien, though; that would be Dead Space), especially the way the music would bombard the player into feeling hero-worthy as your fellow space Marines, er, COGs, fought post Emergence Day one booming beat at a time. So it's disappointing that the new music just doesn't inspire. Of course, if this really were just a fan vid it would probably have just peppered the original score... and THAT would have worked better.
2. The Levels Are Great to Look at but Not at All Varied
If you've seen one Star Trek fan vid, odds are it takes place on the bridge. It's the one defining set that even non-Trekkers recognize. Judgment, as mentioned above, has some great locales, and by that I mean extremely rich and detailed, but the layout doesn't change much. Remember that crazy tunnel in Gears 2? Or being inside that gooey alien infested lair? Or heck, even all those silly driving missions that nicely broke up the monotony of shooting non-stop? None of that here. Essentially, you have a tower defense set up where you have 90 seconds to place servo guns. Or you're going down a path. Again, a really good-looking path, but the feeling is more like "we only had enough in the budget for this type". At least the Trekkers got a Captain's chair.
1. Breaking up Sections with Stats Is Majorly Annoying
So enjoy this GoW fan film instead!
While the declassified missions are a great way to get more from the single-player campaign, they also mean that every fifteen minutes, you need to hit the direction button to "check in". A display comes up with all your medals, ranking, etc.
In the very first Gears, load times at least felt minimal. You were swept up in the world of Sera. Here, let's say you want to skip all that: well, then you'll REALLY notice the load times, since you can't move until that "to continue hit A" pops up. It's like the game really was made by fans who really, really want the instant gratification of "Well, let's see, how did we do? Awesome, right? Right?!"