'Gears' turns back clock

Entertainment,Greg Prince

Marcus Fenix has been the face of the "Gears of War" franchise for years, but the series has always been known for its colorful characters. This time around, Damon Baird and Augustus Cole take center stage. And after all, any chance to go back to the "Gears" universe is bound to be entertaining.

"Judgment" is a prequel to Fenix's story, and it's told as a series of flashbacks. Taking place recently after Emergence Day -- when the evil Locust first started attacking human cities -- Baird and his team get hauled into a military tribunal. They're forced to recount an attempt to save the wealthy city of Halvo Bay. Each level of the campaign corresponds with the testimony of a different team member.

Before each of the major skirmishes in the levels, there is a optional spot to activate a declassified version of events. These altered missions include harder bad guys, restricted ammo and weapons, and even time constraints.

The story behind the campaign is interesting enough, but it just doesn't have quite the same emotional panache as the previous titles. The gameplay isn't all that different, it just feels more frantic -- which can be considered good and bad -- plus the difficulty has been cranked up a little bit.

'Gears of War: Judgment'
» System: Xbox 360
» Price: $59.99
» Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Voice acting, graphics and cut-scenes have all made noticeable strides, and the multiplayer modes are just as enticing as past renditions'.

"Judgment" has that distinct "Gears of War" feel. And while it may not be that brightest star in the saga, it offers up plenty of action. - Greg Prince

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