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Hands-On with Gears of War: Judgment’s Call to Arms DLC

The first paid DLC pack for Gears of War: Judgment comes after the Haven map arrived for free a few weeks ago. With three new maps, one new game mode and six armor and weapon skins, the Call to Arms Pack offers something new to the experience. Many had hoped that DLC would right some of wrongs of the main game such as no horde mode and very few maps. So is this pack worth it? It is all good content but we really shouldn't be paying this price for it.

The new skins are exactly what you would expect, new skins. Not much else to say here except if you want you character to look like a taxi then this is the DLC for you. So let's move on to the maps. Terminal is the first new Overrun/Survival map after the original four that shipped with the game which is a nice addition as we now have 25% more content for these modes which slightly prevents the modes from becoming stale. As far as the map itself it is good and better than Estate, but still not as good as everyone's favorite Skyline.

Then we get two new versus maps for Free for All, Domination, Team Deathmatch and the new Master at Arms mode. Blood Drive returns from the previous two games with a few added tweaks whilst Boneyard is a reimagining of Mausoleum from the first game. Both are fine additions to the game and with the free map we now have 7 to choose from which is now almost what you would expect a Gears of War game to have. That is of course without paying extra for them which I will get to later.

Master at Arms is the new game mode and Gears's take on the Gun Game mode seen in Call of Duty and Counter-Strike. It is also the main reason for getting this DLC. It is a free for all mode which sees each player all start with the Lancer and each time you get a kill your weapon changes. The objective is to be the first to reach 20 kills with 20 different weapons. It is an incredibly frustrating game mode to be play as there can only be one winner and chances are you won't win all the time. When you do win though it feels awesome as you know you've just bested everyone in the game.

One of the criticisms Gears of War fans have had is that some people just use the Gnasher or Lancer online which is something that can't be said about this mode as you really have to be skilled with every weapon to stand a chance at winning. The main problem with this mode is that it isn't team based. As I mentioned in my review (which you can read here) I think Gears of War should always be played with friends, so a free for all mode is something I just won't spend much time playing. It is definitely way better than the standard free for all mode however and if I don't have any friends online who want to play then this is where I will be spending my time.

As someone who loves to get all the achievements in Gears of War games I have to say this new list is pretty dreadful. Consisting of having to get very hard and random ribbons, playing the new maps numerous times, getting an obscene amount of kills with each Locust in Overrun mode and having to play the rather boring Survival mode on Hardcore once again they really feel like more of an unnecessary chore more than anything. Having already got most of the original achievements I feel obliged to try and get them but I really should just avoid them as they completely miss the point of how achievements can be used in a fun way. Also there is no achievements for playing the new Master at Arms mode which is a very dumb decision.

For the price which is a hefty 1000 MS Points or as part of the VIP Pass (this is the first pack of the scheduled three which costs 2000 MS Points) it definitely feels like we seem to be getting less bang for our buck with Gears of War purchases lately. My biggest issue with the main game was that the package felt considerably light compared to Gears of War 3 and even if all this content was in the original game that still would have been the case. 

That's the biggest problem however with this DLC. It all feels like content that was in the game but then removed so they could charge extra for it at a later date. The maps are cool and the new mode is fun, but unless you are a Gears of War superfan and you would be buying this anyway, I would say hold off for now and see if the next two packs are any better because then the VIP pass may seem like a good idea. For now, this content isn't something that you absolutely need to play.

The Call to Arms pack is available now to owners of the VIP pass to download for free and will be available to everyone for 1000 Microsoft Points on April 30th on Xbox Live.


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