Review

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Review

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[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=”” gradient_background=”” full_height_enabled=”” midnight_logo=”” fixed_background_enabled=”” top_svg=”” bottom_svg=”” background_pattern=”” parallax_enabled=”” border_radius=”” col_height=””][vc_column width=”1/1″ gradient_background=”” border_radius=”” border_column=”” icon_size=”64px” icon_color=”#666″ icon_position=”fa-bg-center-center”][vc_column_text css_animation=””]The Gears of War franchise is one of the main reasons I own an Xbox console. Not because of the storyline, or the graphics prowess that it once held, but because of the gameplay. There is no other third person shooter on the market that feels as satisfying to play as Gears of War does, in my opinion of course. That still holds true to this day, and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition has only reaffirmed my love for the third person gameplay in this franchise.

When it comes to remakes, remasters, definitive editions and, I guess now, ultimate editions, it’s always hard to understand what’s actually been done to make the game “better” than the original version.  For those unaware, Gears of War: UE is a full remake of the original Gears of War. The graphics have been completely overhauled, the gameplay refined and, overall, Black Tusk and Splash Damage have created a more polished experience.

When jumping into Gears of War: UE, most everything is in a pretty familiar state. The menus are as simple as they’ve always been, the daunting memorable menu tune returns and so on. Starting it up, we’re treated to a much prettier looking game than the original Gears of War. The main campaign now runs in 1080p, 30 fps with the online portion of the game running in 1080p, 60fps.

Downpour_XboxOne

As I mentioned in a previous paragraph, the graphics have been completely overhauled. Everything from the lighting, character models, weapons sounds and texture work has been updated for the current-generation of consoles, and it makes the game feel like a brand new experience in some ways. Even the cutscenes were redone to give them an updated and more modern feel.

The haunting beauty that Epic Games originally delivered with Gears of War is fully realized in this remastered version of the game. The lighting in particular adds a whole new layer of graphical beauty, with some areas feeling like completely different experiences from the original game. However, with that added beauty comes some pretty annoying technical issues.

Gears of War: UE is mostly a smooth experience, however, during my playthrough, I had multiple instances of enemies not spawning in and forcing me to reload; stuttering and framerate dips during cinematics and occasionally gameplay; and, as much as the developers updated the game’s visuals, most of the base game was left untouched. Your AI partners still do very little to help you, and actually can get in your way quite often. It wasn’t uncommon for me to blow myself to bits while using a Boomshot because Dom would run right in front of me as I tried to fire off a shot. Other times, he and my other companions would run out into the heat of battle and be downed within seconds of it starting.

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And, of course, they can die on the field if they’re left long enough, so you can’t really just leave them there without the risk of failing the mission. These issues are things you would think would be fixed with a remake like Gears of War: UE, but the developers seemingly chose to leave the base game mostly untouched, aside from updating a few mechanics here and there. Who knows, maybe some of these issues will be updated later on via patches, but for now these issues are frequent enough to cause an annoyance.

And on the topic of mechanics, this paragraph really won’t tie into the score all that much, but I’m curious about some of the design choices Black Tusk chose with Gears of War: UE. The shooting mechanics and the player movement have been updated to replicate that of the later Gears of War games, mostly Gears of War 3. However, as much as they left the base game the same, I do think the UE would have benefited from some of the gameplay updates found in Gears of War 2 and 3.

Specifically, there’re no chainsaw battles, no vault kicks and no grenade planting in either the campaign or online. I’m surprised these gameplay mechanics did not make it into the UE, as they significantly improved some of the gameplay design issues the original Gears of War had, and would have been welcomed here. Having no way to defend against a chainsaw in the campaign on the harder difficulties is rather annoying, so to say.

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Also, the extra 5 chapters in the game which include the Brumak fight from the PC version of the original Gears of War is also one of the worst designed set of chapters I’ve ever played in a Gears of War game; I absolutely hated that entire section. It’s a non-skippable section in the main campaign now between Act IV and V, so fair warning: you’ll want a co-op partner to tackle that section of the game on the harder difficulties.

As for the multiplayer section of the game: all the maps are here, even the DLC maps and PC-exclusive maps, and they all have an updated visual look. All of the base game’s modes return, with Team Deathmatch included as a welcome addition. When playing online, the game is a much smoother experience than the campaign mode as well, which I previously mentioned runs in full 60fps and is relatively stable.

Microsoft has done a great job at offering their customers a big value when it comes to bringing returning franchises to the Xbox One whether it’s the Master Chief Collection or Rare Replay, and it’s no different here with Gears of War. A fully updated visual palette does a great job at making the game feel “new” again, and it’s a great entry point for fans old and new to the Gears of War franchise.

 

Reviewed on Xbox One. Review copy provided by the publisher.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=”” gradient_background=”” full_height_enabled=”” midnight_logo=”” fixed_background_enabled=”” top_svg=”” bottom_svg=”” background_pattern=”” parallax_enabled=”” border_radius=”” col_height=””][vc_column width=”1/1″ gradient_background=”” border_radius=”” border_column=”” icon_size=”64px” icon_color=”#666″ icon_position=”fa-bg-center-center”][impala_info_box icon_size=”32px” icon_color=”#1e73be” icon_style_color=”#cacaca” icon_align=”left” title_color=”#222222″ description_color=”#000000″ spining_icon=”” icon_position=”icon-top” text_align=”left” title=”Regarding the Review Score” description=”Our review score for Gears of War: UE will be focused on the presentation of the game and the gameplay. We will be omitting the story section of our scoring template for this review.” icon=”fa-exclamation-circle”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Nick Calandra
OnlySP founder and former site owner.

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1 Comment

  1. Good review,… you highlight goodvpoints, the important one for me that of A.I., which they should have tweaked/improved on.

    Despite my excitement for this edition (for ALL Remasters, Remakes, Definitive Editions, Ultimate Editions etc releasing), I will get the game in holiday 2016 with GEARS 4,… by that time it will cost under $30. With all this flood of re-releases of last-gen games on current systems, I told myself to wait buying these revamped ports under the prices of $30. Personally I find it a waste of a good $40 to $60 full price for something I already played on last-gen systems with slight rework and re-releasing on current-gen. So far, the only edition I recently bought is the Master Chief Collection at about $25 on Amazon,… and this Halo package had its own horrors (bugs), which gamers paid a full $60 at launch. Honestly, it would have pissed me off had I coughed up $60 last year when it launched.

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