Releasing on March 19, Gears of War: Judgment didn’t receive the Fall/Holiday release treatment given to its trilogy predecessors and most blockbusters of their ilk — and anticipation seems to have adjusted accordingly.

We have high hopes for the shooter building on the sterling success of Gears of War 3, all the while discovering fresh, Emergence Hole-spotted ground back before the narrative period of Gears 1, but the height of its time in the gaming spotlight all year still remains this February, when its opening cutscene and full multiplayer component was leaked online.

Thankfully, though, Epic Games chose the shorter side of the Ides of March to debut its Gears of War: Judgment launch trailer — cramming as many explosions and gunshots and dismemberments (along with one sucker punch!) as possible into one spectacularly visceral minute.

gears-of-war-judgment-launch trailer tripwire crossbow

The aggressive verve of the trailer is very much aligned with the game’s apparent style: Between adding a new free-for-all multiplayer mode, collaborating with Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly, casting one of Kilo Squad’s more… polarizing members as is central protagonist, and injecting its story with “more fun” and lighter tone, everything about Judgment — right down to its ostensibly quick time in development — has implied that a brash, sprightly pace is in store for Epic’s prequel, more so than what the main Gears trilogy is already known for.

In addition to the flair, however, the launch trailer does capture the setup of Judgment’s known plot. Casting series mainstays Lt. Damon Baird and Pvt. Augustus Cole at its forefront (in lieu of Marcus and Dom), the game begins just 30 days after the Locust invasion of Sera on Emergence Day when Kilo Squad, lead by Baird, stands accused of treason after stealing top-secret COG technology. The high-mindedly hawkish Colonel Ezra Loomis, seen rearranging Baird’s dental work, is the unit’s mistrusting accuser. How the embattled cast of characters goes about enduring… well, judgment remains to be seen, but it’s a huge crux of the canon’s story arc that delivers Baird and Cole to the starting point of Gears 1, 14 years later.

Also released for Gears of War: Judgment this week was the trailer shown above detailing one of the game’s new mutliplayer weapons: a Tripwire Crossbow. The gadget launches an explosive bolt onto surfaces in the environment. The bolt then projects an infrared beam perpendicular to where it lands, serving as its detonator mechanism — although direct application to flesh appears to set it off as well.

Multiplayer has always been a major facet of the Gears experience; for many, it’s the selling point. Combining the new Overrun mode and new class system (both of which we previewed hands-on with Cliff Bleszinski back at E3 2012) with Free-for-all and its host of unique gameplay features, it will be interesting to see how Judgement — through both its single- and multiplayer components — distinguishes itself from an already stalwart franchise when it releases in mere weeks.

Ranters, which part of Gears of War: Judgment has drawn the bulk of your interest so far?

Gears of War: Judgment releases March 19, 2013, exclusively for the Xbox 360.

Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.