On 4 June 2012, Microsoft officially announced the development of Gears of War: Judgment at the company's press conference during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, before releasing a debut trailer and demonstrating the upcoming multiplayer features. Prior to Microsoft's announcement, video game journalists had already determined that the chronology of events in Gears of War: Judgment would pre-date that of the other releases in the franchise, and that the prequel would feature Damon Baird and Augustus Cole as protagonists.
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Like it's predecessors, Gears of War: Judgment is played from a third person persective, with its core concepts being derived from Resident Evil 4's "over the shoulder" perspective, Kill Switch's cover system, and Bionic Commando's swinging action akin to moving between points of cover.
Gears of War: Judgment has two new multiplayer modes, OverRun and Free-for-All. The series' trademark feature, 'Down but Not Out', is no longer in the game, resulting in the absence of executions. The game has eight maps (four of which are exclusive to OverRun and four of which are exclusive to COG versus COG) and four game modes. Several key multiplayer features of the series have been changed as well, including the ability to plant grenades on walls, damage boosts from active reloads, and the ability to carry both a shotgun and a rifle into combat. However, it has been confirmed that the "Execution" mode will return through free downloadable content two weeks after the game launches, with the addition of two free maps.. Also absent, are the Locust, who only appear in Overrun; instead, it is now COG versus COG (multiplayer). 
The game's story takes place during flashbacks recalled by Baird and his team during a hearing at a COG military tribunal. Each level is a recollection by a different member of the team. Lieutenant and mechanical genius Damon Baird, former Thrashball player Augustus Cole, Onyx Guard cadet Sofia Hendirk and former UIR soldier Garron Paduk. The reason for the hearing is Baird's unauthorized use of a lightmass missile and subsequent death penalty. Upon hearing Baird's testimony it flashes back to Kilo Squad during the early time of emergence day the locust have seized control of many human areas and seek to take over Sera.
See also: List of Gears of War charactersThe following characters are featured in Gears of War: Judgment:
- Lt. Damon Baird as the leader of Kilo Squad: A Gear soldier who was an expert in several technical and mechanical fields. He joined the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) army shortly before Emergence Day, and soon after met Augustus Cole, who became his best friend. Also, he joined the rest of the COG in its evacuation to Port Farrall and later Vectes, where the COG was forced to deal with the Stranded Insurgency, and later the Lambent Pandemic, during which Baird was often on the front lines helping formulate plans with the rest of Delta and command. He was the leader of Kilo Squad.
- Pvt. Augustus "The Cole Train" Cole or Gus: A successful Thrashball player known for his hard-hitting and flamboyant style. After Emergence Day, Cole joined the military as a Gear soldier, and brought that same "grit and intensity" to the battlefield, which saved his life more than once. As part of Delta-One, Cole became part of the most reliable squad of Gears available to the COG, fighting on the frontlines of every major operation near the end of the Locust War. He was a member of Kilo Squad.
- Sofia Hendrik: A Gear soldier in the COG army who served in Kilo Squad. During the Pendulum Wars, Sofia was a journalist, but joined the army after Emergence Day, and was sent to the Onyx Guard Academy in Halvo Bay. She believed in doing things by-the-book, and felt that ethics should not be compromised for victory.
- Garron Paduk: A Gear soldier in the COG army and a member of Kilo Squad. During the Pendulum Wars he served as a Major in a militia unit for the Union of Independent Republics in his homeland of Gorasnaya. After Gorasnaya was devastated by the Locust, Paduk and some of his fellow countrymen were rescued by COG naval forces, and he joined them to take revenge upon the Locust.
- Col. Ezra Loomis: A stern, by the book COG commander, Loomis is a career soldier who has little regard for the lives of civilians. A veteran of the Pendulum Wars, Loomis has had a difficult time adjusting his tactics to deal with the inhuman Locust threat, and disapproves of Kilo Squad's unorthodox tactics.
- Karn: A malformed Theron Guard shunned early on in his career but through superior tactics and guile he reached higher status. he serves as one of the main antagonists; he rides a massive spider-like creature that he nursed back to health after finding it with a broken leg early in his career, called the Shibboleth. He attacked Halvo Bay 30 days after Emergence Day, and also laid siege to Gorasnaya, effectively destroying it despite their military's best efforts to repel him.
Kilo Squad is put on trial for various crimes by Colonel Ezra Loomis and is given the chance to explain their actions:
Following orders, Kilo checks out a convoy in the Old Town part of Halvo Bay only to find it destroyed. Kilo proceeds to battle through Old Town and into the Museum of Military Glory where they encounter the fearsome Locust General Karn and his mount Shibboleth accompanied by hundreds of Locust. Contacting Colonel Loomis, Cadet Sofia Hendrick suggests using a powerful weapon known as the Lightmass Missile to take Karn out, but Loomis is against the idea. Realizing how dangerous Karn is, Kilo decides to do it anyways and travels to the Onyx Guard Academy where they find and protect the missile's targeting beacon, a bot that Lieutenant Damon Baird later names Troy. With Troy in their possession, Kilo travels to the Seashore Hills to the mansion of Professor Elliot, creator of the missile in order to get the launch codes needed to fire the missile. Fighting into the mansion, Kilo must defend Troy from repeated waves of Locust as he downloads the launch codes. Once they have the codes, Kilo travels to the island of Onyx Point where the missile itself is, fighting through entrenched Locust forces to reach and arm the missile. Despite orders to the contrary, they arm the missile and head back to the museum where they figure Karn is heading to lay a trap. Fighting across the rooftops of Old Town, Kilo sends Troy in to guide the missile and despite Loomis threatening to execute them if they go through with their plan, Baird fires the Lightmass Missile at the museum, blowing it up and killing hundreds of Locust, Karn presumably among them. Kilo then defends themselves from a massive Locust attack on their rooftop and once its over, are arrested by Loomis for their actions.
In the present, Loomis prepares to execute the squad when the Locust break into the courtroom. Private Garron Paduk, who particularly hates Loomis, saves his life and he flees while Kilo must fight their way out and to a nearby King Raven. Reaching the King Raven with Loomis, Karn is revealed to have survived the Lightmass Missile and he attacks Kilo and Loomis who manage to kill his mount Shibboleth. Loomis executes the heavily injured Karn and drops the charges against Kilo, but demotes Baird from Lieutenant to Private for his actions.
In the Aftermath campaign, Baird and Cole return to Halvo Bay during Gears of War 3 with Clayton Carmine to find a ship and reinforcements for the assault on Azura. There they encounter Paduk who left the COG with Sofia sometime after the original battle and set up a community in the ruins of Halvo Bay that has both COG and UIR members with no one caring about sides, only survival. He agrees to lead the three to a ship that can take them to Azura. As they make their way through the ruined city to the washed-up Imulsion rig where Paduk's people are located, the squad comes into conflict with the Locust. Finally arriving at the rig, the group finds no living humans and it occupied by packs of Formers, Lambent Humans. Fighting through the Formers, they send off a flare from the roof of the rig and the survivors of Paduk's people, who have moved to another part of the city, send a King Raven to pick them up but they first have to hold off a determined Locust and Lambent assault. Finally, they board the King Raven and Paduk takes them to the flooded part of the city where a tidal wave from the sinking of Jacinto in Gears of War 2 has beached a ship on the roof of a hotel. The squad collects explosives from an armory at a police station and Baird sets them on columns at the hotel while the others cover him. Unfortunatly the explosives fail to collapse the hotel and the team must come up with an alternate plan. Making their way into a restaurant in the hotel, Baird opens three gas valves, releasing the gas into the building then detonates the gas with a grenade while he, Cole, Paduk and Carmine use a zip-line to get off the building. This time the effort is successful and the building collapses, putting the ship back into the water. Having explained their plan to Paduk, Baird asks his old friend to come with them, but Paduk refuses as a group of Gears kidnapped Sofia who he was romantically involved with, causing him to hate the COG even more than he did before. Paduk leaves and tells Baird to never see him again if they are to remain friends. Baird, Cole and Carmine set sail for Azura on the ship, joining with Gorasni forces to help Marcus and the others in their assault on the island.
- This is the First Gears of War game to have a different Control setup.
- This is also the First Gears of War game to not have Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago as the Main Characters, however Marcus can be heard near the middle/end of the game.