Gears of War: Judgment has left quite an impression in the Xbox 360 gaming market since its release last week and we can understand why.  It's easily one of the better additions to the series, with refined gameplay that makes shooting and Lancer-sawing Locust Horde soldiers that much easier, along with new and classic multiplayer modes and plenty of action to go around.

One main feature that shouldn't be overlooked is the new Declassified Missions.  These add an extra degree of challenge to the game, as if it's not strenuous enough playing it on Insane.  There's a reward for those willing to tackle them, mainly in the form of additional points that help you rank up faster and stars that can be used to unlock content.  (40 earned will net you the playable Aftermath chapter of the game, which ties in with the events of the Gears of War trilogy.)  The general story can also change depending on how you take on the mission, adding to the game's replayability.

As a helpful guide on for these new Declassified Missions, we've put together this brief but informative primer to give you an idea what to expect and why you should take them on.  Just man up and accept them already – the worst thing you can do is perish and have to try again (in which there is no major penalty, aside from humiliation if you're playing with friends through co-op).

Good luck!

Accepting the Missions

Accepting a Declassified Mission is simple.  Before the start of each stage, you'll see a Gears of War skull insignia imprinted on the wall, usually spottable right in front of you.  You can head over and press the X button while you're in front of it.  From there, you'll be debriefed on what the declassified mission is and what conditions go with it.  (This is usually in bold print right below the description.)  You're then given the option to either accept or yield, taking on the main mission at hand.  With risk comes reward, but if there's something you feel you just can't do yet you can always go back and try to tackle it later.

What Are the Missions About?

Usually, Declassified Missions fall into a number of categories.  Some require you to use particular weapons over the course of the stage, such as a Mulcher or a Sawed-Off Shotgun, which are less effective than the Lancer in long range attacks but do more damage up close.  Others add extra enemies to the mix, like shield-carrying warriors that take a lot more damage or runners that hit you from all directions instead of just right in front of you.  Visual limitations can also pop up, with extra fog in the area or other conditions that affect your ability to see far ahead.  (We particularly like the nuclear-ravaged lab that makes it appear as though you're drunk – though you're just hallucinating.)

These are quite tough – especially on higher-up difficulty – but perhaps the most challenging are the ones that come with time limits.  In these situations, you're given a rough time estimate (like 5 minutes 30 seconds or along those lines) to clear through a stage.  Failure to do so will result in detonation of the stage – along with your team's demise.  So your best bet when it comes to these particular stages is less cover and more shooting, even though that'll leave you in the open for certain attacks.  You hustle or you die - that's how it works.

Reap the Rewards

For tackling the Declassified Missions, you'll earn a number of rewards.  With the additional kills or added difficulty, you'll rank up a bit faster than you would just taking on the regular missions on their own.  You'll also earn more stars, which unlock Judgment and help you rank up to earn other rewards as well.  (And don't forget you can boast to your friends.)  These can also change up the main story a bit and help your case as you explain what happened to Kilo Squad to the military tribunal.  (The game as a whole is told as a flashback, with each member recalling their side of the story.)

Adjustable Difficulty

One final note: if you're worried that the Declassified Missions might be too hard for you to take on, remember that these adjust automatically with the difficulty.  If you're playing on a casual setting, you don't have to worry about the game bumping up to Insane mode.  There is extra challenge, but the developers at People Can Fly made sure everything was properly balanced, so don't be afraid to give these a try.

 

Now get out there and win one for the human race!

Gears of War: Judgment is available now for Xbox 360.