Gears of War has been a stable IP for Microsoft, ever since its original release on November 7th, 2006. Since this time, four games have been released with Gears of War 4 being released next year. To help pacify the release of the next title in the Gears of War franchise, Microsoft has released Gears of War: Ultimate Edition; a remake of the first Gears of War title, thrown in with remastered visuals, revamped multiplayer, and the inclusion of additional missions as seen in the PC version of its release. One question remains: Did the first Gears of War game call for a remake in the next-generation? Read on to find out.
From the first moment you boot up the game, your eyes glisten to the opening cinematic, which has been touched up to show the Xbox One’s graphical power. While the cut-scenes aren’t from the game’s engine, it was refreshing to see the opening cinematic touched up on to showcase what you were getting out of the game right from the get-go. Continuing on to the campaign mode, I was able to clearly view the amount of detail they went into making this look like a next-generation title. From the detail on Marcus’s armor to the shadowing and lighting effects are truly a work of art; Something long-time fans will be able to appreciate throughout their playtime with the game. Fans just getting into the Gears of War franchise should be able to appreciate the amount of detail and quality that went into making the game look as polished as possible – Positive marks on this one.
In the campaign mode, you follow Delta Squad (Marcus, Dom, Cole and Baird) as they look to eliminate the locust – The same typical formula found throughout many traditional First Person Shooters. With the five additional bonus missions found in Act V, before a PC exclusive, it brought our playtime to about 12 hours – which was impressive as it meant we were getting clearer, most explosive action than our first experience back in 2006. On our first play-through, we decided to tackle co-operative play on the ‘Insane’ difficulty; Something that was previously locked until you beat the main story-line in the original Gears of War. While there were select parts that we were both experiencing difficulty completing, we were able to make it through the campaign without too much struggle. I should mention that while the Gears of War story-line has only gotten more intense as every game has been released, I found that the original Gears of War campaign was lacking… something. While the game did look as amazing as ever, it was lacking the substance required to make a lasting impression on me and then it dawned on me – It was because I was spoiled from the higher than normal action found in the later Gears of War games. Due to my experience with titles like Gears of War 3, I was anticipating more over-the-top big guys with chainsaws action than I experienced in the original Gears of War title – It felt like some campaign parts were bland and unexciting which was a let-down for a veteran player like myself. With Gears of War nearing it’s 10-year anniversary, maybe its okay to feel a sense of age, but it is something that weighed in the back of my brain since I started playing the campaign.
“You see, the graphical enhancements didn’t stop with the Campaign – it branched out to the multiplayer as well. Never have I seen Gridlock look so crisp and clear – even in the Gears of War 3. “
I should note that while the game-play felt smooth, it didn’t seem like it was running at a solid 60 frames per second. There were several parts from when we were playing the game felt to drop to 30 frames or lower – possibly due to the new textures found throughout our experience. While we may have noticed frame drops from time to time, it wasn’t anything that belittled our experience as I was mostly taken in from the new visuals and action consistently found throughout the games single-player campaign and multiplayer bits.
Speaking of Multiplayer, the same old Multiplayer from the original Gears of War can be found in the Ultimate Edition – With a few more multiplayer features to boot. Game-types like King of the Hill, Team Deathmatch, Execution make a return along with other fan favorites such as Annex and Warzone. The multiplayer found within Gears of War: Ultimate Edition was rich in content with maps game-types memorable from the original gears with new content such as Gears of War 3’s Tac-com, player spotting and match customization. The first map I ended up playing in Multiplayer was Gridlock – a classic map to say the least and boy, did it look good. You see, the graphical enhancements didn’t stop with the Campaign – it branched out to the multiplayer as well. Never have I seen Gridlock look so crisp and clear, even in the Gears of War 3. The same rules apply to every other map found in the original Gears of War; remastered and looking as beautiful as ever. The multiplayer features seemed to have been left untouched as well with the same chainsawing, shotgun blasting, explosive high-end action found in the original game back on the Xbox 360. Something that long-time fans will be looking forward to if you enjoyed the Xbox 360 version of Gears of War multiplayer.
The only thing left the speak out is the collectibles found in the game. Upon booting the game up, you will notice a new section titled ‘Extras’. The Extras sections contains a list of unlockables such as Comic Books and concept art which are earned by collecting the several COG tags that are hidden throughout Gears of War’s Campaign mode. The comic books found in-game are the same ones published by Wildstorm and DC Comics and make a nice touch to expanding on some other parts in the Gears of War lore. There are also a few multiplayer customization’s you can find throughout playing and advancing levels in the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition ranked modes which include new playable characters and gun skins. All in all though, if you enjoyed the classic Gears of War multiplayer or evening later adaptations of the multiplayer modes, you are going to enjoy the everlasting hell out of this.
Gears of War has always been that one game that has struck home when it comes to a campaign mode experience and something less for a multiplayer experience to me. The tribute to the classic Xbox 360 version was nice, but overall, reminded me of how much I appreciated the later titles such as Gears of War 2 or Gears of War 3. This being said, anyone wanting to enjoy the Gears of War franchise should pick this title up as it does provide a great insight on how the game was enjoyed almost 10 years ago. Gears of War has not looked as crisp, clear or graphically stunning as it has on the Xbox One.
Review Score: 8/10
+ Updated visuals & cinematics look great on the Xbox One
+ Same-old Gears of War from 2006
+ Multiplayer touched up for Xbox One; Includes all previous maps and some features found in Gears of War 3
– Gears of War campaign not running a stable 60 Frames-Per-Second
– Campaign feels a bit date but still an enjoyable experience
Thanks to Microsoft for providing us with a copy of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition to review!