Title: Gears Of War Ultimate Edition
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: The Coalition
Release date: August 25th 2015 / August 28th 2015
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Originally released way back in 2006 for Xbox 360, the first Gears of War game launched another franchise that would become one of the exclusive pillars for Microsoft’s console along with Halo. It went on to sell three million copies in ten weeks, earning the title of fastest selling game of 2006 and subsequently it also became the second most played game online in 2007. It also received multiple 2006 Game of the Year awards. Almost 10 years later, with a new developer at the helm, the original game that started one of Microsoft most popular franchises is back. Initially developed by Epic Games, it was handed over to The Coalition after Microsoft purchased the rights from the game’s previously developer. Let’s see how this remastered game fares.
The game tells the story of Delta Squad, a crew of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG), as they attempt a final assault to save the remaining human inhabitants of the planet Sera from a relentless and unstoppable subterranean army of enemies known as the Locust Horde. The game’s events takes place 14 years after Emergence Day (E-Day)- a dark time where Locusts overran and killed multiple COGs and civilians. Our main hero, Marcux Fenix, is reinstated into the military after questionable decisions. With Dom, he meets up with the rest of Delta Squad and they head to search for the Resonator in order to activate a Lightmass bomb to wipe out the Locusts.
Among the game’s improvements are the controls. The Coalition improved the control scheme as it feels more tight and is reminiscent of the controls found in Gears of War 3 making the experience a bit more enjoyable than the 2006 original. The game plays perfectly. Although very different from the standard Call of Duty control scheme, even FPS fanatics will adapt rather quickly. The developers delegated the game’s weapon selection wheel back to the D-pad (after for some reason People Can Fly delegated it to the Y button in Gears of War Judgment), so fans who played the original trilogy will feel right at home and it also feels more like intuitive. Up is for grenades, left and right for primary weapons and down for the pistol. When running, the game switches to a Roadie Run camera angle which is actually a neat little addition and gives the game that “end of the world” feel; much like when you’re watching such a movie.
Now obviously, this being an “Ultimate Edition”, not only has the Coalition beefed up and re-worked the visuals, but they also added a bit of content. The most notable add-on being the inclusion of a formerly PC exclusive chapter; which is lengthy and does add about an hour of additional gameplay. Although the original game’s length was never a problem (especially on Insane). This just adds more of fun and playtime; giving returning players a reason to play through it. Also additional Achievements, bringing the total to 1250, is sure to entice hardcore players. Hardcore Gears fans can also read a few digital comics and check out some exclusive art after picking up Cog Tags and clearing chapters. Sure, reading Comics on a TV isn’t the best thing, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
The Coalition did an impressive job with their first official outing on Xbox One. They rebuilt the visuals from the ground up as the reworked and remastered environment design and re-shot original motion capture. The game’s single player tops at 30fps while multiplayer runs at 60fps with a resolution of 1080p. Although, despite their impressive efforts to update the game, some visuals glitches occurs. One prime example is when players trying to chainsaw enemies. Against two-legged locusts, it does look inexcusably fine, but not as good as other Gears‘ games. However, when using the Lancer on a Wretch (small monkey-like creatures), the chainsaw cuts thin air while the tiny locust shakes to its death. Along with this odd visual, the game also has a few glitches such as enemies disappearing and appearing out of thin air. Sometimes A.I. characters are always teleported out of nowhere; either next to you or somewhere mysterious.
Audio wise is where it gets… odd. This is not a knock on the composer, far from it. However it is odd that it’s an action game with a penchant for tracks more reminiscent of those found in the horror/suspense genre should feature some tracks sound that like they’re straight out of a Disney movie. Or seem to hint that something comical is about to happen. Being in the middle of an intense firefight and hearing an almost cutesy track being played over the bullets flying is really strange. Fast forward to the 7:20 minute mark of the video above for a prime example (POSSIBLE SPOILER; this section contains the formerly PC exclusive chapter):
Multiplayer wise, it’s what you’d expect. King of The Hill, Team Deathmatch or War Zone. 2 teams of 4 players going into battle and one team comes out the winner. The Coalition didn’t rest on their laurels, as the game contains a whooping 19(!) multiplayer maps. Unfortunately, the match making is still a bit iffy; as you’ll often get the short end of the stick and wind up fighting higher level players. This is a bit of a turn off for gamers who haven’t already spent hours on end playing online.
Although not all is perfect in the world of the Locusts. Technically, the game plays fine. However, the game can feel sparse on content. There’s no doubt that Gears fanatics will spend bazillion of hours online playing matches on their way to reach level 100 once (or twice!), but those who are used to more content for the lone wolf players in some gamers will be disappointed. Unlike other Gears games, once you’re done with the campaign, you’re done. There’s no incentives to return (unless you want to tackle all 4 difficulty levels), no medals or ribbons to unlock/collect or Achievements to nab. Most achievements are story related and can’t be missed. Also, local matches against bots aren’t an option. Versus matches are only local (with friends) or online only. Sometimes playing versus matches against bots is a great way to hone your skills before heading online.
Gears Of War Ultimate Edition is hands down the perfect template for how to properly do a remaster/HD game. Unlike games like The Last of Us, that basically got a bit of visual overhaul, this remake of the 2006 Game of the Year had its visual rebuilt and improved from top to bottom. Character models looks more crisp and sharp while facial expression look even more realistic; somewhat fitting with this new technology. Despite some visuals hiccups, this is a great action games for Xbox gamers (and PC ones in the future) to experience. Whether it be your first go with the franchise or considering another go at the original that started it all, if you own an Xbox One, this is a great game to add to your collection.
- Visuals are up to par to today’s standards
- Still as fun as it was 10 years ago
- Improved control scheme
- Lengthier campaign thanks to new content
- Still some lingering glitches
- No option to play Versus matches with bots
- Limited replay value for lone wolf players
Gears Of War Ultimate Edition is rated M for Mature and PEGI 18 due to blood, coarse language, gore and intense violence. Seeing grubs explode and waves of blood isn’t really a family thing.