It turns out fans of the Gears of War franchise won’t have to wait as long as they had thought to find out about the next installment. Ahead of the previously reported Monday reveal, GameInformer has unveiled the covers of their July issue featuring series mainstays Damon Baird and Augustus “Cole Train” Cole. The game in question is Gears of War: Judgment, and the full artwork implies that the two Gears will be taking on enemies both old and new.

We were more than a little surprised to find out that Epic Games was already willing to confirm a new Gears title, especially with the end of the trilogy so fresh in our memory. Before online speculation over exactly who and what the game would be focused on, and whether it would be a prequel as opposed to a sequel could be debated, it seems the hammer has been dropped. The game is Gears of War: Judgment, and Baird and Cole Train are back.

That’s not all the information that’s been transmitted thanks to the magazine’s covers though, as the images depict both Baird and Cole in handcuffs, being escorted by COG soldiers while the Locust – remember them? – tear the world to pieces. While that’s nothing new to the series or its artwork, the placement of the two sources of comic relief so prominently within the scene hints that big changes may be on the way.

Gears of War Judgment Baird

When it was confirmed that the team behind Bulletstorm would be working on Judgment, the common ground between the two developers was undoubtedly a unique sense of humor and off-beat attitude. But with Baird – the smart-ass genius – looking more enraged than ever, and Cole – the consummate cheerleader and optimist – appearing anything but enthusiastic, thing are obviously not going particularly well.

Obviously the exact events preceding the two finding themselves shackled by their own forces amid overwhelming forces will be filled with spoilers for the eventual game, but most of the time spent developing the two characters has been found in the extended novels and fiction. Cole’s constant crusade to not succumb to the grief of losing his family was hinted at during the last game, and Baird’s aloofness as a result of being cast out by his aristocratic family has become his trademark.

If these fights are the star of Judgment, then Cliff Bleszinski’s claim that future sequels would feature more “Christoper Nolan type dialogue” certainly follows.

Gears of War Judgment Cole

That isn’t to say that plenty of laughs will be had, and hordes of Locust bullet-riddled, but a game that drifts a bit closer in tone to the Band of Brothers storytelling that it was intended to resemble isn’t a bad thing. More details on Judgment‘s multiplayer modes – Horde 3.0? – will be coming from the mag on Monday, presumably alongside information revealed at Microsoft’s press conference. For now the title and the images are all we have to go on, but are more than enough to get fans intrigued, not to mention excited.

What do you think of the decision to feature these classic characters in Gears of War: Judgment? Would you have preferred a prequel starring Marcus and Dom, or a completely new direction for the Gears franchise?

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Source: GameInformer