There will likely still be some who feel that another game set within the Gears of War universe can’t help but feel like treading old ground, but Epic Games isn’t shying away from introducing new characters, or bringing new personality to ones the fans already know. Veterans Baird and Cole will be leading Kilo Squad in Gears of War: Judgment, but players will also become acquainted with a few new characters who bring history and experiences that have yet to be explored in the series thus far. From the few details provided on the surrounding cast, the Judgment name will apply in more ways than one.
We got a brief introduction to the new characters with our hands-on demo of Judgment at E3, but now new images and details have been released thanks to Game Informer. While fan favorites Damon Baird and Augustus ‘Cole Train’ Cole will be appearing in much younger forms, they won’t be the same characters Gears fans are familiar with. Judgment takes place fifteen years before the first game, and that amount of time steeped in a failing war can’t help but turn optimism to cynicism. The prequel setting is one way the developers are going to be breathing fresh air into the experience, and fans of the extended fiction know how deep these characters truly are.
The new information paints Baird not as the sardonic smart-ass that he would eventually become, but as the new leader of Kilo Squad. He will still be the wise-cracking rebel we know and love, but at this point in the war Baird was still on a mission to prove his family wrong, and acquire respect and honor leading his fellow Gears as an officer. It will certainly be strange to play a Gears campaign in which Baird is the voice of reason and direction, but we do think the character is strong enough to carry the load.
Augustus Cole – the eternal optimist and cheerleader – on the other hand, is far less certain of his choice to enlist. At this point in the war it’s possible that Cole’s fame in the Thrashball world could have persisted and even grown, so second-guessing is expected. These details aren’t much to go on, but they do set the stage for Baird helping Cole realize his need to keep morale up. Unfortunately, it also might show what transpires to destroy Baird’s small sense of optimism.
Considering this characterization of the pair, it certainly sheds new light on the original promotional images for Judgment.
Accompanying Baird and Cole will be Sofia Hendrik, a native of Halvo Bay, one of the coastal settlements that fell under Locust attack in the series of Gears novels. Halvo Bay looks to be the location of one of Judgment‘s multiplayer maps, and one of the main levels in the game’s campaign. The timeline means Kilo Squad will aid in the failed defense of Halvo Bay, with all sign pointing to that missions as the one which leads to the squad being court-martialed. Either way, it would be an interesting way of characterizing Sofia Hendrik in the group.
Instead of filling Hendrik with a desire to eradicate the Locust at any cost, her experience as a war correspondent has infused in her a desire to fight wars ethically. For obvious reasons, player should expect to see Sofia butt heads with Baird on a few occasions. If that’s the case, the ensuing cutscenes could bring back memories of Bulletstorm – fitting, since that team is helping develop.
Along with Sofia comes the introduction of Garron Paduk, a former enemy of the Coalition of Ordered Governments. Hailing from Gorasnaya of the Union of Independent Republics, Paduk fought against the COG during the Pendulum Wars, before being captured as Gorasnaya was crushed by the Locust invasion. Since his home nation has been wiped off the face of Sera, it seems Paduk is willing to fight for Kilo Squad, sure to bring some insightful thoughts from the ‘other side’ of the COG’s proficiency at war.
A Gears of War game wouldn’t be the same without a bureaucratic blow-hard horribly equipped to handle a non-human threat, so luckily we also have our first details on Colonel Ezra Loomis (relation to Billy Loomis unsubstantiated). As a by-the-book, big picture military leader, it’s no surprise that Baird’s approach will land him in hot water. Loomis seems to be the military official charging Baird and Kilo Squad in the Judgment announcement trailer, so snarkiness and indignation are basically guaranteed in one form or another.
Hopefully more details will be revealed in the coming weeks, particularly on the possibility of different play styles in four player co-op, considering the team’s new interest in class-based combat. What is your reaction to these new characters? Does it seem like more of the same, or is there potential for new storytelling and experience?
Gears of War: Judgment will be released in early 2013 for the Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
Source: Game Informer