The Gears of War franchise has always held a special place in my heart. It was the first real “next gen” experience to come to the Xbox 360 for me in 2006. Now almost 9 years later we have Gears of War: Ultimate Edition – a remake of the original Gears of War – completely remastered for play on the Xbox One. The game is developed by newcomers, The Coalition (formerly Black Tusk Studios).
Now the question is has The Coalition done the franchise, and most importantly, the fans justice with the new remake on Xbox One? The answer is YES, or as Marcus Fenix would say, “NICE.”
Its been awhile since I’ve played the first Gears of War campaign. In all honesty, it turned out to be for the better as a lot of it was fresh but nostalgic at the same time. For those not familiar with the series – you play as Marcus Fenix of Delta Squad on the earth-like planet Sera. You are broken out of prison by an old friend named Dom Santiago and that’s where the story begins for Gears of War. Now that all the basic stuff is out of the way for newcomers, let’s get to the heart of the game.
The remastered graphics for Gears of War: Ultimate Edition are amazing and truly pay homage to the original game. Other remasters sometimes choose to look fancy and go overboard with improving textures and as a result, make the game look completely different to the original – Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is a solid example of it. After playing the original Gears of War for a short time on the Xbox One through backwards compatibility, the effort The Coalition put into the remaster is remarkable and stays true to the original in almost every way.
Being an older title, I sadly ran into a few issues which included enemies not spawning and having to reload the checkpoint as well as squad mates glitching into items and walls in the game. These issues weren’t too often, but were enough for me to list it in the review. These issues could easily be patched following release but I can’t see it breaking anyone’s experience with the game straight out of the gate.
The music and sounds are also very well done. From the simple chimes that happen when picking up COG dog tags to the mechanical gun sounds when reloading. One of the things I really enjoyed that The Coalition did was keep the original voice acting intact for Ultimate Edition. There was no real reason to ruin the great dialog and acting of the original cast. They did however did beef up the in-game sounds, and which really pop now with Dolby 7.1 surround sound.
If that wasn’t already enough, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition now includes 90 minutes of extra gameplay from the PC version of Gears of War 1. Now, never playing Gears on PC it was a blast to finally play the new part of the campaign. It really helped flesh out the third act of the story and a welcomed addition for those that love the original campaign.
With everything said, the campaign has held up incredibly well for an almost 9 year old game. One minor gripe I do have is the campaign being capped at 30 frames per second. With resolutions and frame rates being a hot topic these days, it is a shame to see they couldn’t pull it off. However, the multiplayer, which we’re about to talk about, runs at a blistering 60 frames per second.
Now onto the bread and butter for a lot of Gears of War fans – the multiplayer. Many have been wondering how arguably the best Gears multiplayer has held up in the hands of The Coalition. I can tell you it was done masterfully. Not only does the package have all the original Gears of War multiplayer maps, it also comes with all the DLC, but The Coalition have also included the PC exclusive maps for a whopping total of 19 maps on the disc.
If that wasn’t enough, the frames per second have been increased from a measly 30 to a smooth 60 frames per second across the board. With the addition of the FPS bump, The Coalition has also added fan favorite features such as Enemy Spotting, improved sensitivity customization and Multiplayer Tac-Com. I can’t forget to mention the addition of two fan favorite game modes either – both Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill have been brought over from future Gears titles and they play great.
However, since I was given an early copy of the game a week before launch, I only did manage to get only a handful of games in but from what I’ve played it ran smooth as butter on the new dedicated servers. As always, if you’re on the fence and a huge fan of the Gears of War multiplayer, I would hold off until release to see how the public responds to the game when it launches on August 25th.
The Coalition and Microsoft have knocked it out the park with this package in almost every way imaginable. For the low price of $40, you can get the full Gears of War 1 multiplayer experience on dedicated servers, while also obtaining 8+ hours of campaign gameplay and loads of additional bonus content from in-game comic books to concept art. Anyone who plays Gears of War: Ultimate Edition before December 31st, 2015 will receive all four Gears of War titles from the Xbox 360 for free – all of which will be playable on the Xbox One through backwards compatibility.
If this is a taste of what Gears fan can expect for the future, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Gears of War 4 in 2016.