November 12, 2014

Hunter cosplay helmet from Destiny

hunter cosplay destiny

Here's a sweet Hunter helmet that serves as some awesome Destiny cosplay. Redner made it himself, here's what he has to say about his art:

"I did the helmet and chest armor for a costume I wore at NYCC this year. The mouth moves and the eyes move but manually. The eyes light up with LEDS and have three settings super bright, bright and blinking."

Here's an awesome Awoken cosplay effort.

November 9, 2014

Mass Effect 4 concept art

concept art mass effect andromeda

Concept art from Mass Affect Andromeda


N7 day has quickly become the most popular day in the calendar for many Mass Effect fans. To celebrate it this year Bioware release some concept artwork for what is simply being referred to as the next Mass Effect Andromeda. No other firm details have been announced – people are still fretting that it’s going to be a prequel.

Here’s the pictures, key thing to note is the return of the much loved and much hated Mako:




October 1, 2014

Adrian Majkrzak's Destiny Concept Art

Awoken

Adrian Majkrzak has released some of the concept design work that he did for Bungie's Destiny. 

Ghost
cabal destiny
Cabal
Drop Ship

destiny space ship -concept


Want more pictures? Check out the Destiny design that Dorje Bellbook did.

September 29, 2014

Dorje Bellbrook's Destiny concept art designs


Destiny hive catacombs concept art
Where the Hive live
If you’ve played Bungie’s Destiny, you’ll know how beautifully designed it is. From rocks on the moon to the tapestry of design that can be found in the darkest Hive catacombs, Destiny is a visual feast of design. But to get there, Bungie had to know what it’s designers and artists were going to make.

conceptual mock up destiny

This is where the concept art comes to the fore – the development at this stage has a crucial effect on what the game environments end up looking like (and also determining the ‘feel’ of a cave, castle or common room).

venus conccept art destiny
Venus bridge
So it’s no surprise Bungie through concept designer Dorje Bellbook a bone and asked him to get involved. Here’s some of the design work that Bellbook did – you can see how influential his works turned out to be.

catacombs destiny art
Where the wild things are...
moon destiny design art
M-O-N spells MOON
Warp Gate concept art destiny game
Venus Warp Gate

Of course, the design work was not left all up to Dorje, check out these other pieces of artwork.




September 15, 2014

Awoken cosplay from Destiny

awoken cosplay destiny

This is a pretty fine Hunter Guardian from Destiny. The Awoken should have that 'blue steel' look down right? Insert in appropriate how you would like to 'level up' with her here.

Is that gun from Destiny or District 9?

September 4, 2014

Destiny has a live action promotional video

Destiny is out next week so the promotional propaganda is in full swing. Bungie have now released a live action video to promote the game.

It features The Hive, Led Zeppelin and an irreverant fireteam of Guardians:

August 24, 2014

It is your Destiny


August 7, 2014

See ya round Casey Hudson


Casey Hudson has officially left BioWare.


The guy who screwed the ending* of Mass Effect 3 said:

"After what already feels like a lifetime of extraordinary experiences, I have decided to hit the reset button and move on from BioWare. I’ll take a much needed break, get perspective on what I really want to do with the next phase of my life, and eventually, take on a new set of challenges," he wrote in a letter shared with his colleagues. “This is without a doubt the most difficult decision of my career.

Though there’s never an easy time to make a change like this, I believe this is the best time for it. The foundation of our new IP in Edmonton is complete, and the team is ready to move forward into pre-production on a title that I think will redefine interactive entertainment. Development for the next Mass Effect game is well underway, with stunning assets and playable builds that prove the team is ready to deliver the best Mass Effect experience to date. And the Dragon Age: Inquisition team is putting the final touches on a truly ambitious title with some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen in a game.

But while I feel that the time has come, this is without a doubt the most difficult decision of my career. BioWare is as magical a place today as it was when I started. The projects we are working on are some of the most exciting and prestigious in the world. The talent in our teams is second to none. And the people here are some of my closest friends. I’ve spent more time with many of you than my own family, and I have enjoyed every day of it.”

It will be interesting to see what he gets up to next. Speaking of gaming Rock Stars, what has Cliff Bleszinski been up to lately other than playing video games with his wife? Maybe Casey and Cliff should team up**?

*We’re over it really.
** No bloody way.

July 27, 2014

JJ Reviews: Destiny Beta

guardians from Destiny

So like a gazillion others, I've had the chance to play Destiny’s beta. I got to play for a couple of hours over three sessions (fitting in gaming time is hard when you have a family and want to sleep!).

Here’s a few thoughts:
  • Music is fabulous
  • The Fallen Captains are worthy foes.
  • The upgrade element seems pretty intensive and actually useful in the battle field
  • I liked Peter Dinklage as the Ghost
  • The Devil Walkers will be formidable threats
  • Some of the missions were elementary but of course this is a beta)
  • How Bungie expected busy fathers like those in the South Hemishere to take part in a 2 hour window to get on the moon is beyond me…
  • Some of the weapons are pretty sweet
  • My Warlock shot gun / power punch combo was an awesome treat to employ in the midst of battle. Supercharge is also awesome.
  • It took me three multiplayer games before I knew what the help was happening. Kills seem to happen too quick? Maybe leveling up will help in time.
  • The sprawling vista of New Russia featured some wonderful artwork and design. I appreciated the scorpion tanks that lay about.
  • It’s very clearly Bungie have put a lot of thought and planning into Destiny, and it's the little things that bode very well for the full game. 


Halo references found in Destiny


It was Halo ODST which featured the first known reference to Destiny as a game in the form of a poster which suggested that 'Destiny Awaits'. Now everything has come full circle and the world of Destiny is not short on references and Easter eggs to the video game that made Bungie famous, being Halo.

Bungie have said that given they don't own Halo any more, it would be hard to do the eggs, however I think with a wink and a nod, they've got a few into the game.

References to Halo found in Destiny

The Divide region on Earth features rusted tanks that look suspiciously like Scorpions from Halo.

Loose references and affiliations

Nathan Fillion plays Cayde-6. Fillion featured in ODST as well.

The Master Chief makes an appearance as a building:


Easter eggs and other references found in Destiny


Destiny is a large game made by one of the greatest placers of Easter eggs, Bungie studios so there's many things to be found from the moon, to New Russia to Mars.

 Here's some eggs and references that have been placed in the game.

The Scorpion tanks from Halo lie rusting in peace about New Russia on Earth

The Master Chief's helmet can be found disguised as a building.

master chief halo easter egg in Destiny

"A million deaths are not enough for Master Rahool."

Following the demise of the now infamous Looting Cave, a return to it suggests you may wish to disturb the remains - if you do so the Cyrptarch can be heard saying "A million deaths are not enough for Master Rahool." Check the video. 


July 24, 2014

The Blood Gulch Brawl - who would win?

Yep, I think I would by a ticket to see the Master Chief go up against an angry T-Rex. Would you? If there were no rail guns allowed, who would win this brawl?

June 29, 2014

Destiny's Achievements and Trophies list

Bungie have finally let us know what the Achievements and Trophies are for Destiny. They are common to both the Xbox and Playstation platforms.

The names of the achievements are fairly no nonsense - a fair cry from some of the 'In the Know' references of Halo or Gears of War.




June 9, 2014

Halo 5 will have a beta test, the Master Chief Collection is real and Halo 2 is getting a new lick of paint


E3 has delivered some Halo news.

  1. The Master Chief Collection is real.
  2. Halo 2 will have an anniversary edition like the Halo Anniversary did. The graphics look amazing 
  3. The Halo digital series is called Halo: Nightfall and that will be included with the Master Chief Collection.
  4. Halo 5 will have a multiplayer beta test
  5. Halo 2 Anniversary will only be available as part of the Master Chief Collection
  6. Halo 2's glitches will still remain....


May 26, 2014

343 not happy about the Halo leaks


Franklez is a bit mad, a bit grumpy and fairly justified. Why? Halo news is coming thick and fast but it's not official news. Not that we mind the occasional leak. Tiger anyone?

Here’s what Frankie from 343 has to say about recent leaks (Halo 2 remakes, Master Chief collection and possibly the suggestion Halo 5 is open world….)

-

Breaking embargos is not prophesy. Nor does it require any particular skill or insight. Ultimately he is taking or being given information and leaking it, illegally and often erroneously.

And he isn't doing it for some noble or worthy reason. He's doing it for attention.

People, including nice people with kids and families and stuff, work super hard on this stuff and wake up in the morning to find some of their effort blown up.

It's not fun, and for what? So you can have a mildly interesting surprise 8 hours early and lacking context? Or get hyped or disappointed disproportionately?

Or get someone fired or someone innocent yelled at?

Ok. But it isn't prophecy, nor ultimately even important. It's annoying.

-

In the examples I mentioned above,  the argument is that say 343 was to announce a Halo 2 redux but not a MC collection, fans might get grumpy. Worse still if someone revealed the actual plot. Revealing details about a game is fine if it is done with deliberate consideration – such as when 343 revealed the Knights as they chose.


One should bear in mind that leaks are often done in the entertainment industries to drum up interest in a project or even to test the waters about an idea. And sometimes leaks might be mistakes. Might be. Sometimes they are not.

May 18, 2014

Best ever Liara cosplay?

Possibly the best Liara cosplay ever.....


assari cosplay from mass effectBes

Of course, we may have said something similar about Liara before....

May 8, 2014

Halo 2 remake on the cards from 343?

Word on the street is there will be a Halo 2 Anniversary announcement soon:

343 Industries will unveil Halo 2: Anniversary. This is a full (multiplayer included) visual makeover of Halo 2, it will also include the same options as Halo Anniversary (Including both visual modes) skulls etc. It will include the E3 2003 mission as a bonus unlockable and the maps from the PC version.

The reveal will be at E3. Further scuttlebut suggests that a date for the release of Halo 5 will be announced and even more rumour persists that it may have some form of open world approach. If that's true, this writer is very interested!

Take this with the proverbial grain of salt, the source of the news is from a single page blogspot site. Time will tell. E3 will take place in June in Los Angeles.

April 30, 2014

Mass Effect 4 dev appears on track

It looks like the development of the fourth Mass Effect game is coming along nicely:




Which is cool as beans as far as we are concerned.

Also, did you hear about the Star Wars announcement?

April 23, 2014

April 21, 2014

The most random Halo 3 Easter Egg has been found - 7 years after its release


7 years after it's release, a fairly random Halo 3 easter egg has been found by a Halo fan called Lord Zedd.

Short version is you hit some magical crystals that I had never noticed before and you kill the scarabs and boom! You see 343 and some other numerals appear. Check the video:



Some have speculated this was an internal Bungie employee hinting at the Halo shift to 343 Industries but I think it's too early in the piece for that, rather it's just a reference to 343 Guilty Spark and Bungie's typical messing around with numbers.

Either way, it makes getting the IWHBYD skull a cake walk eh? Oh, I'll ask this one more time: Did anyone figure what whvidldshbyjsdo is in reference to yet?


April 6, 2014

A tasty The Fallen birthday cake for a Bungie boy

Glenn Gamble is not only lucky enough to work at Bungie, he's very luck to have had his wife Tracy make him an awesome birthday cake of one The Fallen for his birthday. You could say it was his, destiny....

The Fallen birthday cake from Destiny
Fallen captain birthday cake

Here's some the real deal for comparison:



April 1, 2014

Check out this awesome cosplay from Mass Effect

See that guy on the left? Awesome!

cosplay mass effect blonde femshep

We have no idea what this lass in the skin tight outfit is trying to be...

March 28, 2014

Halo 3 in real life

I was returning from the Opportunity  Shop, today having just scored the novel version of Revenge of the Sith, when I came across this set of bike stands and I thought - Jimmy, you're starring at Halo 3:

Halo  3 rings in real life

Am I right? Damn those twin giant scarab laser toting things were hard on Legendary....

March 26, 2014

The Mass Effect that could have been

Illusive Man Concept art Reaper tech

I came across this reddit post which discusses ‘what may have been’ with the ending of Mass Effect and I wanted to share.

Yes, every man and his dog has had something to say about ME3’s ‘brave’ conclusion but it looks like Geoff Keighly managed to get some really great insights into the structure of the game and what happened to it during production. Here's some key points that have been paraphrased and run through a washing machine.

Time, you can never have enough


ME3 was supposed to launch 2011 but production issues meant the game didn’t release until March 2012 and due to development pressures, content was cut and other stuff re-jigged. This is a pretty normal thing, no big deal, except some of it had real consequences for the story telling…

Javick

Case in point, Javick. Ultimately Javick was intended to take a larger role and provide more exposition during the campaign. Eventually he was shunted into DLC post the game being sent for certification. Javick was intended to have discovered the Citadel was the Catalyst by way of the promethean beacon that was found in the Temple of Athame on Tessia. At the point that the Illusive Man sent Kai Lang to ruin the party and kidnap Javick. That new information would have then lead to Cerberus attack in the Citadel as they would have known it was the Catalyst. Instead the plot was recast and the Cerberus attack was moved in the story. Knowing this, the attack on the Citadel makes more sense.

The 'Final Boss' Fight would have been against the Illusive Man

There were original plans to give the game a final boss fight, wherein The Illusive Man would 'pull a Saren' and you would fight the Invisible Man who had managed to intergrate himself into a Reaper construct. This idea went as far as having conceptual artwork designed (see above)

The idea was canned after producer Casey Hudson felt it didn't make sense from a story perspective. Instead the player gets to 'renegade' shoot Illusive Man (even if they are a Paragon through and though).

That ENDING

Lead Writer Mac Walters had envisaged the Destroy ending would create a Dark Age across the Galaxy. I’ve played ME3 three times now and still have no real idea of what the hell I chose and what its effect was!

Drey Karpshyn perhaps infamously also is on record (as in it’s on the internet) as noting a possible idea he had in mind was that humans would evolve to be able to use Dark Matter which its use would unwittingly cause the end of the world so the Reapers were intent on killing everyone to prevent that scenario from happening. So it would turn out the Reapers were the good guys of the piece...
Enough time has passed about the ending of the game now for me to ponder it as a player. I think it was a ballsy but confusing move. A hot mess of a date if you will, but I'm happy that the Extended Cut resolved a few of the quibbles. I'd still like to believe in the indoctrination theory though!

March 24, 2014

Speaking of the Mass Effect movie


 Speaking of the Mass Effect movie

The CEO of Legendary Pictures Thomas Tull mentioned something about a small movie his company is working on:

Mass Effect is another story that we love, and it's incredibly sprawling and complex. We're not going to screw up Commander Shepard. That's another one of those things where we're being a little bit precious about it, but unless we feel like we can absolutely crack it and know what the movie is, we're just not in the position where we have to make stuff just because we have to. That's the way we treat every one of these. I'm a huge Mass Effect fan. I play. I'm personally a fan of all these different things, and we don't to screw them up, so that's the way we go into these. The bar is very high, and that's just our approach.

That’s after Legendary rejected a script by Mark Protsevich. He wrote I am Legend and Thor.

IGN also asked Tutt: Is there a particular challenge in adapting Mass Effect, which has these well-established characters, even more than Warcraft, which has more of an open canvas?

Tull: Yeah, I think the canon they've created is sophisticated. It's very broad, meaning you can't pitch that in 30 seconds, right? It's a complex story. So it is challenging. If it wasn't challenging, the movie would have been out by now, but it is. We've just got to stick to our guns that, if it's a movie that's going to come from us, we want it to be great. If we can't crack that yet then we just have to keep working.

Which basically translates as they have no idea what they are doing and have no real direction on the movie. Makes me think this film is going to go the way of the Halo movie.

Here's a question - would they make two movies? Cos we need a Femshep movie....

March 13, 2014

I’m the boss, CEO, queen if you’re feeling dramatic. It doesn’t matter. Omega has no titled ruler and only one rule. Don’t fuck with Aria.

Other than a bitchy Femshep at her bitchiest, there's no other Mass Effect character as bitch like as Aria. And I say that with love. Aria is the coolest, bitchiest blue skinned lady around. She's almost the polar opposite of Liara.

Any way's here's the best cosplay of Aria we've seen:

aria assari cosplay mass effect
I’m the boss, CEO, queen if you’re feeling dramatic. It doesn’t matter. Omega has no titled ruler and only one rule. Don’t fuck with Aria.


February 26, 2014

How I've changed as a gamer

I was just idly pondering my navel and I wondered when we were going to get some new intel on Halo 5. I would love to get my hands on Halo 5 I thought. And then I thought, but I want to play a new Mass Effect game first. And that surprised me as I’ve been a Halo nut ever since an old flat mate said, “Here Jimmy Jangles, try this Soccer game.” And “I went, cool but who is that dude on THAT game?” Or something like it.

Whilst I played Combat Evolved across the following week I realised I was having dreams about Halo. I was the Master Chief in my dreams.

But that was some 8 years ago and many Halo games have come since then. Some good. Some great. Other games have come into my life two. I fell hard for Gears of War. And then I  picked up a cheap copy of Mass Effect and bamn! video games were not only about killing alien hordes, they were about killing alien hordes AND talking to blue Asari aliens as part of an attempt to lure out some broker who lived in the shadows. And elevator rides. Who doesn't love elevator rides?

And that’s how I grew up as a gamer. No more Tetris or Leemings or Duke Nukem 3D for me, I expect my video games to tell me real stories. Stories that make me want to come back and read (play) them again and again. I want the run and gun but I also want my Arthur C Clarke tales too. I want the big boss battle but I also want some secrets to be found out over time. I don’t want to be hearded ‘back to the battle field in 10 seconds or the Guardians will kill me’, I want some joker to fly to the next battle field in the next system.

So while I’m hanging out for Halo 5 as a mid 30s aged dad with a mortgage, I know I’m a different player now. Not so much time for multiplayer as you can’t press pause on that when a little boy needs his dad. So maybe that’s it, as a campaign player, I need varied and interesting experiences.

So now I’m more open to video games that are a bit different. If money and time allowed, I’d explore further than the Bioshocks of this world. That Titanfall looks pretty interesting. As for Destiny...


But Halo, you had me at Hello. 

February 20, 2014

How Bungie has already guaranteed the (initial) success of Destiny.

It is your ....Destiny.
When Bungie was making the original Halo game, they didn’t know they had a world beater on their hands. They may have of course suspected it… They’d had a strong run with games like ONI and Myth - so much so Microsoft liked what they had seen and picked their code as the flagship game for the original Xbox.

They were well placed to launch to infinity and beyond but it wasn't guaranteed.

Luckily Halo took off and then Halo 2’s great game campaign and even better industry changing multiplayer cemented that status. Bungie could do no wrong and Halo 3 proved to be one of gaming’s best ever game releases – Bungie had matured as a company, they had the skills and they had the built in fan base that would buy Halo 3 no matter how bad a review it got from anyone.

But Bungie no longer makes Halo. They are making a game called Destiny. An untried, unseen game. They don’t have a sequel that the fan boys will sell their mothers to get a copy of. They have nothing but their reputation to stake it on. While form is temporary and class is permanent – and Bungie has class, how has Bungie already guaranteed the success of Destiny?

They have tackled this on several fronts. Some are hard, industry strength machinations that will be levered across a range of companies. Some are marketing strategies that have been in play for several years and some are honest working relationships with their Halo fan base.


We’ll cover these three areas as the pillars on which the success of Destiny is assured.

Industry Strength Plays

Activision

Bungie has teamed up with a partner that has a long history of being in the business of selling video games. They know how to do it and they will have the reach that Bungie needs to get their game into as many fingers as possible.

Speaking of Reach…

Halo was an Xbox exclusive, and still is. Destiny will be cross platform making the leap to the Play Station side of the fence. Is the grass greener? The games will be the same, they will look mostly the same as each other. So what’s in it then? It should be obvious that there are millions of Play Stations out there, just waiting for a decent new game to come their way. Millions.  

Xbox is the spiritual home of Bungie and the new Xbox One will serve as an incentive to purchase Destiny. Case in point this writer. I have a child and a mortgage so a new Xbox One is not a priority right now but I guarantee you, I will be buying Destiny for Xbox One. If I am going to play around in this Destiny’s realm for 4 – 6 years then I am going to do it on the best machine I can – don’t bother with arguments that PS4 is better, I’m an Xbox player 4 life!

Marketing – Tiger, tiger, burning bright 

The slow burn reveal

It's a tiger, man.
After Halo: Reach was successfully let loose, Bungie went dark. Everyone knew they were working on a new game for there was a ‘brave new world’ to be made;  T-Shirts were worn. Denials were made. Faint whispers down corridors were heard. Fans speculated. And speculated. And then this happenedTigers were mentioned

All the while, the Bungie fans played into the of the company. Websites were made. Lion men were mentioned. Fan art was created. People even wrote fan fiction about an unreleased game. In short, Bungie marketed the game to the fans by offering them a glimpse of something and made them want it.

Bungie have also done the rounds of the video game developer conferences and the comic con type events gamers love to promote the game. The judicious use of announcement trailers and game play and character development videos and has meant that everyone who loves to know about what’s coming out already knows about Destiny before any real marketing campaign has begun. These people will buy the game and their chatter will influence other people to follow suit. 

The Real Marketing campaign

Just as Halo 4 had David Fincher making videos to promote the game, Activision will turn up the marketing to eleven, if not twelve or thirteen. There will be mass media to promote the game.

Bungie will trot out all the usual suspects by way of interview and ‘vidoc’ as they call them.

I’m quietly predicting Destiny will have the biggest marketing launch in terms of cost EVER for any video game. Activision has backed Bungie's Destiny to come in first, and they’ll need to spend even more than GTA V had if that’s to happen.


Fan base

Community is Key

So the tease had been happening over a long time. It was time to open the Kimono up a bit and suddenly Urk and DeeJ were everywhere. Random videos featuring in jokes with stuffed tigers were released. They gave fans codes to the Beta. 

Weekly updates actually started happening weekly. Fan letters were answered. Random staff were proudly paraded to the fans who lapped it up.

This was awesome community involvement and it helped cement the holy trinity of Bungie, Bungie's fans and Destiny.

Despite that some players thought Destiny being on the Playstation was a betrayal, most people wish Bungie well and will simply buy the game to see what they’ve come up with.

Social Media

Make no mistake Bungie understands their fan base and will utilise this as much as possible. Keen eyes will have noticed their Facebook and Google Plus accounts have been quietly drawing in the fans by asking them questions about the game. 

When the time is right those streams will be hit harder by Bungie than a Devilwalker landing on a Shrike from a great height.

But what about the long term?

Destiny is expected to be a big hit. It should be, especially if what I wrote above is true. But that’s only for one game. For the continued success of Destiny, the original game must offer a fantastic gaming experience that leaves players wanting more. But no Halo 2 cliff hanger style ending please!

February 12, 2014

Meet the Shrike from Destiny.

shrike vehicle destiny



Not unlike the Speeder Bikes that could be found on the floors of the Endor Forest in Jedi, the Shrike is one of the ways Guardians will be able to get around in the Destiny universe.

Unlike the vehicles in your world, Bungie’s Tom Doyle promises us that the Shrike will only get better as you pack on the mileage. “The Shrike is something that you’ll upgrade over time in Destiny,”. The Shrike should not be confused with the name of the character from the Mortal Engines books.

Right off the bat, the Shrike has three distinct paint schemes that correspond to your particular Class.”

So the Skrike will have customization abilities. I’m putting red racing strikes on mine.

If Destiny has a forge like mode, imagine the fun that will be able to be had with these babies!


If the concept designer’s name of Issac Hanaford rings a bell, it should as he had a massive design influence on Halo.

Here's a couple more pix of the Shrike:
Get your Shrike on

February 9, 2014

JJ reviews: Fable III


Fable III was kindly offered as a free download via XBL. Here's my review:

WORST GAME I'VE PLAYED IN A LONG, LONG TIME.

THEY TRIED REALLY HARD TO MAKE IT WORK BUT THE MECHANICS OF IT ALL JUST SUCKED.



January 30, 2014

JJ finally gets his hands on to play and review Gears of War: Judgment


I know this game came out a while ago but one couldn't really justify spending the money at the time with a new baby in the house. It's actually the first new game I've played since Halo 4 came out! Luckily, I spied it cheap on Trade Me and got it just in time for the New Year.

Opening with Kilo Squad being held to account in what appears to be a kangaroo Court for an unknown crime  it's quickly clear Sierra was only recently subject to the Infamous Emergence Day assault of the locust horde.

The colour palate is a delight, more bright than prior games, there seems to be more blue if that makes sense. The blue is important as it makes this tittle's's lead Baird appear more nuanced and realized than he has previously been. 

Until now Baird has been a smart ass journey man who accompanied Dom and Marcus through their travails. This time round he's the lead and one can immediately tell voice actor Frederick "Fred" Tatasciore has stepped up to bring a stronger character than in heard in prior outings.

A low key start sees Kilo Squad recounting their trip through the falling city to help defend certain points. It's the gears that has been before with a handful of new weapons to work out how to best use.

A programming bug in the Archives was infuriating. I spent a long time running round the area in which I had defeated a a litter of Serapedes trying to find a way out. Eventually I assumed there was a bug and had to commit suicide by way of grenade and fortunate possession of a Boomshot. The restart proved me right and I was able to progress to a thoroughly entertaining set piece in a haze of dust. This part was Gears of War at it's finest and any worries about Judgment being developed by People Can Fly rather than Cliff Bleszinski's team that did the prior three excellent games.


The game took a nice turn when Sofia Hendrik was asked to give witness rather than Baird. The character herself 'just happened' to have once been a research assistant to a Professor at Halvo Bay Military Academy who had built a light mass bomb. Deciding the bomb was necessary to take down a giant monster that's been confirmed as being able to destroy buildings with a single wriggle by, Kilo squad entertainingly find the original Jack robot who will be able to help them target the bomb on the Karn beast. 

The game play continues to be excellent, Sofia's voice acting by Ali Hillis is excellent (and that's what you would expect from Dr Liara T'Soni from Mass Effect!) The asides cast around by the Kilo squad are amusing and up their with that you'd find in a Halo game. I'm also still pleased that the Cole Train has been toned down just a tad.

It's a shame that you can't swap weapons with other Kilo squad members. Loading them up with Boomshots was kinda handy and fun!


The Seahorse Hills lead us on a merry adventure featuring Paduck's testimony. Gears has always picked on cliche's for it's characters and this time People Can Fly chose to go with the 'hardened Russian who used to be the enemy but lost the war and joined the winners side ' vibe.

I should comment on the new buttons lay out. It's fantastic. The game has adopted a Halo style approach. You can carry two weapons which are controlled by button B - you no longer use the D pad to change to grenades either, you can simply use the left bumper. I found this gives my gaming experience better flow.

I've also noticed I am not hiding behind cover as much as other games. I'm not sure why this is, possibly as I'm playing on Hardcore rather than insane. I do fear the run through on that mode however, some set pieces are horrifically fun but difficult!

Paduck's testimony ultimately proved a fan romp through rich people's back yards and mansions. The end of this mission featured a Kilo Squad vs a duo of flaming Beserkers which was most entertaining. We got mission codes for the mission but nothing of great import really happened.


And then it was onto the Cole Train's testimony. One would expect the bombastic player to up the ante in this segment. But maybe the developers realised there are only so many WAHHHHOOOOOS a game needs. Which is fine by me as I'm not a 13 year old boy from Texas.

Cole's testimony is a straight forward run through some place to get to the missile so it can be prepared ready for it's inevitable launch against the giant Karn. There was nothing too challenging on the stage suffice to say by now I'm fairly sure that this game's version of Hardcore difficult appears to be easier than other Gears games - perhaps the many man down rescues make it seem easier.


And finally it is now Damon Baird's turn to give testimony to this crazy bastard Loomis that insists on conducting the Tribunal whilst surrounded by attacking grubs. This run through was probably the most engaging part of the campaign.

Featuring some excellent set pieces this was great Gears in play. A fairly simple yet not too easy boss battle played out well. I was slight disappointed with how the judgement trial played out – Loomis grudgingly let Kilo Squad go free with a demotion for Baird.  I did enjoy how Loomis tagged onto Kilo Squad for the final run – in his heart he was a Soldier and perhaps not as big a ‘dick’ as Baird later recalls in the Aftermath section.

Despite the lack of critical or sales success for this game and while I had my fears about it being a prequel I found it to be a very enjoyable Gears game and would recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the prior games. Be wary though it is Gears light when compared to Gears 3 and it is no Halo Reach but give it ago, you should be able to find it pretty cheap thesedays which means it’s a good value game. 

Now that Microsoft has Gears in its back pocket, we'll expect a new Gears game to be of a higher standard than this one - at least G3 level and beyond given the resources they'll have for it.