A console generation can often be defined by a handful of game releases that truly advance gaming to the next level. In Nov. 2006, Epic Games’ Gears of War for the Xbox 360 did just that. Displaying amazing graphics, cinematic gameplay, and gritty battles, Gears of War showed what HD visuals and next-gen gameplay was all about. Over the last 9 years, the franchise has grown and changed – for better and worse, but people can relive the amazement of the original game with the release of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition for Xbox One. Sporting enhanced graphics, improved frame-rate, and new story content, this is the definitive way to experience this classic.
Gears of War was a system-seller in 2006, and now Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is a reason to own an Xbox One.
Immediately upon starting the game you will notice the visual improvement. The lighting, textures, character models, and general appearance are far beyond what the Xbox 360 version. Outdoor environments convey a strong sense of desolation and loss of life as you explore war-torn cities, meanwhile indoor and underground locations feel more alive than they did on the Xbox 360. Even with all this visual improvements, the game retains the dark and depressing atmosphere from the original release.
While the visuals are certainly impressive – even by today’s standards, the game does some suffer from some performance issues. When compared to the Xbox 360 original, Ultimate Edition offers a much smoother gameplay experience. With that said, the frame-rate does dip at times, but never to the point of being game breaking. We experienced a handful of frame-rate drops during intense battles that featured several Locust and heavy-weapons – i.e. the Troika and lots of grenade explosions.
In what can be best described as a “blast from the past”, we also encountered several issues with the game’s scripted events. During our first battle with the Berserker, you lead her outside by having her burst through a series of walls. Unfortunately for us, she never came outside and we had to reload the checkpoint and start the battle over.
It is also worth noting that the game’s physics can glitch at times. We tossed grenades in an emergence hole and then watched a Locust Drone slide across the terrain and proceed to kill us with a shotgun. This issue didn’t occur all that frequent, but players will likely experience it once or twice throughout their campaign runs.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition also features new campaign content, which was previously exclusive to the PC release of Gears of War. Adding several new chapters to the game’s final Act, the famed Brumak content lives up to the hype and delivers one of the most intense and cinematic battles to be found in the franchise. You feel like you are being hunted throughout these chapters, and it concludes with a terrifyingly fun battle.
As well-rounded and entertaining the campaign may be, the real reason Gears of War is loved by so many fans is due to its multiplayer. Gears of War was the defining online game for the Xbox 360, and Ultimate Edition may soon have that honor on Xbox One (move aside, Call of Duty). Featuring a massive selection of maps and plenty of game modes to select from, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is the best online multiplayer game of the franchise.
Competitive (i.e. Ranked Mode) game types include the following: Execution, King of the Hill, Team Deathmatch, Assassination, and two new game types – Blitz and 2v2 Gnasher. Blitz is a modified King of the Hill that requires the player to stay in the ring at all times. A common tale among Gears of War players is the time they were challenged to a 1-on-1 shotgun battle. Well, now you have a mode dedicated to exactly that. 2v2 Gnasher is exactly what it sounds like – a shotgun battle. Social game types include: Warzone, Team Deathmatch, and King of the Hill.
If you are like us, you’ll be pleased to hear that Gears of War: Ultimate Edition feels and plays exactly like the original Gears (minus host advantage). If you are looking for or prefer features like Meat Shield and Stopping Power, then this game may not be for you. This a pure remastering of the original game, and its multiplayer remains identical to what was offered in 2006.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is truly the ultimate edition of Gears of War. It may suffer from some sporadic performance issues and the occasional loading glitch, but the campaign is entertaining, the Brumak chapters are intense, and the game is great to play in co-op with a friend. Its multiplayer remains addicting and fans of the original Gears will find haven in the game’s numerous modes for months to come. Any fan of Gears of War owes it to themselves to buy and play this amazing game.
- New campaign content
- Remains true to the original game’s tone and atmosphere
- Tons of multiplayer content and game modes
- Random glitches and frame-rate drops
(Editor’s Note: A digital copy was provided by Microsoft for review purpose. The campaign was completed on Hardcore Difficulty for review sake.)