Prequels are very much in vogue at the moment; last week's God of War: Ascension, the recent Tomb Raider reboot and now Gears of War: Judgement all seeking to extrapolate some kind of meaning from stories which were overegged to begin with.
Here we're presented with the testimony of four 'Gears' (soldiers for those not au fait with the series) as they stand accountable for war crimes unknown. Their tales are then told via flashbacks, as each member of Kilo Squad accounts for their actions.
So it is that players will instantly find themselves embroiled in the same cover-based shooting that the series has long since been synonymous with – Gears of War by numbers, despite the supposed fresh impetus injected by new principal developer People Can Fly.
At least Tomb Raider offered enhancements to the series' established gameplay mechanics, alas that's a luxury that both Ascension and Judgement brazenly forego; no doubt with any proposed changes being held back with the rapidly approaching next generation in mind.
Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with the gameplay, indeed it's solid shooting done well, but there's precious little new here beyond the superficial – the odd new weapon, optional mission objectives, etc. – to mark it as essential.
Gears' multiplayer fans will at least take to the online side of things, with new modes Overrun and Survival adding weight to the established modes and fraught gunplay as bombastic as ever.
£49.99, Xbox 360, Microsoft