When Gears of War was released 9 years ago in 2006 it was a smash hit that went on to influence a whole generation of games in the genre. In an era where cheap imitations have seen gamers scratching their heads at a once proud genre, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is a timely reminder that sometimes a stroll back in the past is the best way to influence a new generation.
With the Gears franchise being handed over to The Coalition Studio there is always a bit a nervous wait to see how the new studio tackles a franchise. When it came to Gears, The Coalition Studio decided to whet its appetite by going back to the start and remaking the iconic original. If you’ve been there since the beginning then this is essentially the same game you know and love, with the addition of a new take on multiplayer and a gorgeous overhaul to the visuals.
To the uninitiated, Gears of War is an over the shoulder Third Person Shooter which promotes cover based combat over the all guns blazing approach. The soldiers which were a tad clunky in the original have benefited greatly from the increased frame rate that goes up to a silky smooth 60FPS. Gone is the clunkiness, instead replaced with much needed fluidity that allows for a much more natural range of movement as you move from one position to another. Getting stuck against an object is far less likely to occur now.
The visual upgrade to 1080p does Gears of War: Ultimate Edition a world of good. The fresh coat of paint brings out a level of details that makes the world pop and the killing of enemies even more satisfying. Multiplayer has been increased to 60FPS which gives it an excellent feel. This is a visual presentation that is up there with the best of shooters on the market today. Taking a game that is nearly a decade old and overhauling the presentation is no mean feat and something that other studios have struggled with when doing a remake, so it’s a testament to the work that The Coalition Studio have put in to make this the best way to experience Gears.
When it comes to storytelling and narrative Gears of War does miss the mark a little bit. It’s not the fault of the developers, it’s something that was evident in the original. The depressing back against the wall story is incredibly cliche and simple, which wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that there is little meaningful dialogue exchanged between the characters.
For all the shortcomings that accompany the story, Gears more than makes up for it with gameplay that is downright fun and engaging. The game is linear and broken down into short sequences but the idea behind that is to promote a more movie like experience. It is an experience that works very well and coupled with a fantastic control scheme, proves that time has no limits on a game built with fantastic mechanics. Engaging with the enemy and taking them down is incredibly rewarding and immensely satisfying. Things like the Active Reload system remains a valuable tool in the Gears arsenal.
One of the standout features of Gears is the ability to play cooperatively. Many games take on co-op and it feels like a baked on feature. When it comes to Gears, nothing could be further from the truth. Getting in there and taking on the campaign with a trusty companion accompanying you actually feels like the best way to experience Gears of War. The biggest problem with Co-op is the sheer amount of time you and a mate can lose getting immersed in the campaign, that in itself is a massive endorsement on how well made co-op in Gears is.
Competitive multiplayer makes a return in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, featuring a total of 19 maps and 9 modes. Multiplayer is as enjoyable as ever, even though the maps feel a little dated by today’s standards. Another area that feels like a let down is that it is only 8 person but again, Gears is so good that it never feels like there isn’t enough players. I’ve taken on games that have twice as many players and feel sparse but Gears with half the players always feels rich with combat and action.
The Coalition Studio set out to make Gears of War: Ultimate Edition THE definitive version of the iconic series opener and they have ticked all the right boxes. The visual overhaul and much improved frame rate make for a fluid experience that corrects the clunky feeling that was apparent in the original. Whether you’re going it alone, playing co-op or taking on the competitive multiplayer, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition manages to shrug off its faults and deliver an incredibly fun and immersive experience. Going back a decade to bring back the original Gears has been a fantastic decision that will fuel the fires that are burning for the new installment in the Gears franchise.
- Excellent Co-op
- Visual Overhaul is Excellent
- Fantastic Combat Mechanics
- Maps & Levels Feel Dated