I regret to inform you that paying full price for this game is a mistake. I write this post several months after the launch of this game and still have a mix of satisfaction and angst. This game was a pre-order from my local GameStop for the full retail price of $60(as of 5/2/2012 it is still $49.99 according to Amazon.com).
Keep in mind that this game was a prequel to the franchise to which part of its name comes from. Do your research before you wade into the game and understand that there will be no Dom or Marcus(except for the brief cameo appearance via radio chatter). Perhaps the removal of Horde mode will be something else you want to consider. If you know and accept these things ahead of time you’ll be better prepared because you don’t want to set yourself up for any further disappointment.
Being a Gears fan and having played all of the previous games, I was exited when this game was announced and remained so through its release. The graphics in the game are very good for an Xbox game. There is a slight change to the standard button layout but given the modifications to the combat and grenades it works well once you get acquainted with it. What brought my excitement to an end, oddly enough, was the end of the game. No, the problem was not with the story’s plot or conclusion as I felt that it was very well written and paced but rather with its brevity. The main campaign can be finished in about five hours. If you include the final chapter that is unlocked, you could say six hours. I can’t include it, however, since this chapter is actually a chapter that was missing from Gear of War 3. Although this chapter may have been the best one of the game and made me reminiscent of Gears of War 3, it left me thinking – why wasn’t this chapter part of Gears of War 3 where is belonged? Why was Raam’s Shadow not part of Gears of War: Judgement instead?
My time with this game was well spent. I did not spend much time with the multi-player but that was something I expected. Horde was my favorite Gears mode and I knew it wouldn’t be there. I tried the new modes they introduced as replacements but just could not stay interested. If you wait for this game to be about $20 new or used pick it up. It’s worth that to see more of the Gears story if you are a fan.
This game was a purchase made from Amazon’s Black Friday sale. The game was $25 for the PS3 during the sale(it cost $31.50 as of 4/27/2013). I had played part of the original Borderlands after if was given as a free download to Playstation Plus subscribers(a service that I highly recommend for PS players but that is another topic). Unfortunately, the things I didn’t care for in the first game are the same things I didn’t care for in the second game. I will say that perhaps its not a problem with the game itself but rather my gaming preferences. The second installment in this franchise did clean up some of the mechanical issues that plagued the original. The inventory system was much easier to use and the mission catalog was clearer on what missions were related to the story and which were optional. With that said, the weapon system was still frustrating at best. Randomly finding guns and upgrades was in no way gratifying. To endlessly loot boxes and bodies for meager returns quickly became a point of discontent. Even with the introduction of Shift Codes, this weapon system is lack luster as the weapons you are given with the codes are not necessarily any better than ones you may find with normal looting. The stats listed on items did not always compare well and made choosing items to use confusing. Sometimes the only way to be certain about how an item would work out would be to use it. Unfortunately this experimentation had to be done in game and could lead you into failure. Granted, you did have the option to try weapons in a gun range style area but you couldn’t get a feel for you the item would work in combat.
The plot of the game was an off the mark continuation of the first game. You play as a vault hunter that was not present in the first game. During your play through of the game you do come across and work with several of the characters from the first. If you are so inclined, you could play this game without ever having played the original. The fact that the story did work on it’s own and any ties to the previous game were clearly and immediately explained was a positive. The negative is the repetition. The missions you are sent to complete are typically the same. You have to fight your way through an onslaught of enemies and either retrieve an item or activate something. Add to the repetition the time that had to be wasted constantly travelling across and in-between areas to complete these task. Fast travel is available to each area after you discover it but it has a limited usefulness as you can only activate fast travel from a limited number of locations and it is not always readily apparent what area you need to go to to complete your current task.
I won’t say don’t play this game but I will suggest caution. Be prepared for what type of game it is and what type of game you want to play. I did play this game through and completed the entire story. It even inspired me to go back and complete the original Borderlands. This won’t be a game that I will be playing again anytime soon, however. Perhaps if you are playing online with other people and enjoy grinding away to raise your characters level and abilities then this game would be something you would enjoy.