Thursday, 10 September 2015

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition

It really is a crazy to think that the third-person shooter that inspired a generation on contemporaries is almost nine years old. When it released in 2006 on Xbox 360, it dropped jaws with its visuals and pumped adrenaline with its explosive gameplay. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is a great look back and everything that made the original so great, even if everything doesn’t hold up quite as well as you might remember.

Developed by The Coalition and Splash Damage and out now for Xbox One comes Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. It doesn’t follow the now expected packages of remastered games, as it only includes just the original game on the disc. To combat this though, the game hasn’t had a simple lick of paint added to it; Rather, over 3,000 assets have been recreated as well as all the cut-scenes in the campaign have been completely re-done. 

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: The campaign. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t terrible but rather highlighted the fact that the original campaign just wasn’t great, and compared to later campaigns in the series, is just not even close. Tonally, it feels different to the rest as there were more horror aspects with missions that see you go through a factory at night where you first meet enemies corrupted by the sought-after imulsion energy.

There are some down points as pace is much slower than the rest of the series. You’re too often disrupted by walking slowly as story is delivered through the team’s headset. Possibly the most disappointing aspect of the campaign is that it runs at 30 frames-per-second, while the multiplayer silkily keeps a 60 frames a second pace. While 30 fps is fine for the most part, moving between the two in the same game is noticeable immediately, and the campaign feels sluggish and blurry at times. Even with the lower frame rate, it still stumbles at times and chugs for a few seconds which is surprising given the fact that it doesn’t exactly hold up against other modern games in the visual department.

The multiplayer however is completely different. I was a massive fan of the original game’s competitive mode, as I saw nights blend all the way back into day, ultimately leading to the disc to become unreadable. The multiplayer in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition isn’t the exact same as the one that launched with the original. The multiplayer brings with it some enhancements from the later games including spotting and tagging enemies, levelling up, customisable weapons skins, and more.
Gone are joining servers which had constant host advantage, and instead the multiplayer here is on dedicated servers and runs incredibly smoothly. Jumping into a game is much easier than it ever was with the original. The incentives to level up also result in a multiplayer game that was very hard to put down before, to an almost impossible level now.

Players have become a lot better though meaning playing and watching the gunfights, it’s hard to not think of the old Sugarcult song “Bouncing off The Walls” as players slam to walls to only jump right off it again to get around quickly. It only took a couple of rounds for muscle memory to kick in before I was popping heads again, which is still sadistically satisfying. If the one game isn’t enough for you, all four Gears of War games will become available once backwards compatibility launches this November. The single player can be quite a grind at times, and feels like a first attempt but the multiplayer? “Yeah, bring it on sucker, that’s my kinda shit!

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition actively reloads old-school third person shooting 4/5 stars.


Jason Redmond

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