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Gears of War: Judgment isn't entirely a prequel. Epic Games has revealed that the game features a second, hidden campaign called "Aftermath" that takes place during the events of Gears of War 3.
"Aftermath," according to OXM, is set toward the end of Gears 3. After the battle of Anvil Gate, Marcus heads to Azura while Cole and Baird gather reinforcements. The campaign follows Cole and Baird on this journey and shows what ordeals they had to endure.
Judgment's second campaign is unlocked by playing through the main story mode and earning all of the "stars". Throughout the campaign, players earn stars by skillfully completing sections. The criteria for earning stars is unclear; OXM suggests that getting a lot of headshots and minimizing revives are recommended.
A whole new campaign seems like a strong incentive for players to up their game. Not to get off on a "gamers are too coddled nowadays" rant, but it's rare that a developer challenges players like that. It remains to be seen how hard it is to earn the stars in the campaign, but demanding skillful play is a good thing nonetheless.
Judgment will launch later this month exclusively on Xbox 360.