Dropping turrets and repairing barricades. Not as fun as it sounds.
The cooperative Horde mode introduced in GoW 2, which reinvented the stagnant, lame survival modes of other games, has been watered down to a class-based shadow of its former self. They even call it (wait for it) "Survival mode." While the class system has potential, it's a step backwards. It's simply a cooperative version of the new adversarial mode, OverRun. The role of the Locust is played by bots instead of players. Are you noticing a pattern?
OverRun is a mash-up of Horde and Beast mode, and it's not as good as either. I'm glad Epic tried something new, but it feels repetitive after a few sessions. Once you know the layout of the levels and form a plan the only thing left to do is up the difficulty and try to saturate the bullet sponges. The COG classes are pretty vanilla. The Medic has stim grenades; the Soldier can resupply ammo; the Scout can toss spotter grenades and has increased vertical mobility; and the Engineer can repair defenses and drop temporary turrets. Barricades and defensive items are in fixed positions. Players can't add new defenses themselves. Once they're gone, they're gone. If your team is overrun you have to retreat to a new position. If you're playing as the Locust you will lose if you fail to destroy your objective. There are only four maps for this mode.
If you're into Gears for the core multiplayer, such as Team Deathmatch and Free For All, once again, there are only four new maps. And yes, the MP matches still boil down to somersaulting all over the map and shotgunning each other in the face. That's eight maps total. Couple this with a lackluster campaign and you have a slightly better than average third-person shooter hardly worth the price of admission.
The best part of GoW: Judgment is the easily unlockable follow up campaign, "Aftermath." This takes place during GoW 3. Baird and Cole are still the main focus, and together with one of the Carmines and an old friend you'll play through a scenario that's more worthy of the Gears of War name. At the beginning of Aftermath you actually have to run to avoid being crushed by a landslide! HOLY CRAP! You know the main story was lacking when an aggressive hill is one of the highlights of the campaign. There are no stars or scoreboards. It's just a romp through a ruined area where the environments add to the story rather than act as a cage for the action.
The main campaign doesn't merit a rental, and the unlockable Aftermath content serves as a painful reminder of how great things were in the previous titles. The total package succeeds, but just barely. Gears of War: Judgement is not bad, but it falls short of what I expect from a proper Gears game.
The Co-Op Experience: The campaign supports two player local co-op, four player online co-op, and combo co-op. Survival mode supports two player local co-op, five player online co-op, and combo co-op. All MP matches can be populated with AI bots for even more cooperative options.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.