Gears of War Judgment Isn't All-Prequel, After All

Most of this month's Gears of War Judgment on Xbox 360 takes place before the three existing Gears of War games. But there will also be a short campaign called "Aftermath" that takes place concurrently with the near-final moments of Gears of War 3. The brief two-hour-or-so campaign follows two series regulars, Baird and Cole, at the moment near the end of Gears 3 when they broke off from series hero Marcus Fenix to gather some troops.

The "Aftermath" in question isn't so much the aftermath of the third Gears game but the aftermath of the main prequel campaign of Judgment. Baird and Cole are the lead characters in that adventure and, in Aftermath, reunite with two of the other main Judgment characters. We're seeing and playing these people years later, seeing what's become of them.

I played a tiny bit of Aftermath a couple of weeks ago at a Gears of War preview event in New York City. There's not much to say about it other than it feels like traditional Gears of War gameplay. Shooting, taking cover, etc. It's probably no revelation in terms of gameplay, but it's a nice narrative twist to know that we'll play a short bit of the future of characters we'll get to know well in Judgment's main campaign.

The Aftermath mini-campaign is unlocked with "stars" earned as you play the game's main campaign.

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At that same preview event, I was shown the game's new five-player co-op multiplayer mode called Overrun that lets teams of five players take turns as either the Locust trying to swarm a succession of objective points on a linear map or as the Cog soldiers trying to fend them off with guns and fortifications. I played the Cog side, testing different classes. Each class is essential in some way. Only soldiers can drop more ammo; only engineers can repair turrets and barriers; medics heal; etc. The computer fills out the team if you don't have enough people playing. It feels good, like a mix of Gears of War 3's horde mode and the rushing gameplay of a MOBA-style game.