STAFF REVIEW of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (Xbox One)

Friday, March 11, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Box art In the video game universe there are very few games that not only transcend a generation of hardware but create a following that becomes so large it literally creates a worldwide movement. Gears of War is one of these very legends.

From its origins dating 10 years this November, Gears of War Ultimate Edition may seem like a cash grab on a current generation system, however, when you dive a little deeper under its skin, you'll find that what you actually have is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Let's get the elephant talked about right off the bat. Many other companies have gone the "HD Remake" route by performing some minor graphical overhaul and charging more than what a used copy of the original would cost. Gears of War Ultimate Edition is not that at all.

For starters instead of just touching up the graphics, what we bear witness to is the result of a new company, The Coalition, and their persistent chase for perfection. Rebuilding from the ground up, every graphical aspect that you can think of for both single player and multiplayer has been improved, but when you have your single player locked in at 30fps and multiplayer locked in at 60fps at 1080p, you'll truly see the accomplishment that was achieved. I can't begin to tell you how big my smile was when I charged around a corner and hit a Locust with my chainsaw. Not just because it looked absolutely amazing but because of the next major accomplishment: the sound.

Normally in any type of shooter, it really helps to have some form of surround sound, this time though, The Coalition have Gears of War running in 7.1. Now you have a reason to go crazy on a theater system and pick up those ungodly expensive headphones. Having listened to this on a Klipsch Home Theater System, I can almost hear the chain itself with the individual links right before it engages.

However, one thing that I do enjoy is how spatial the sound plays off its environment which also includes the sound effects. Hearing a Boomer grunt out "Boom!" and then watching an oncoming warhead explode next to me, it really becomes an intense experience, especially on insane difficulty. While all of this would normally be where a company would close up shop, slap a sales tag on it, and ship it out the door, The Coalition isn't a normal company.

In the gaming world, it's one thing to create one of the world's most iconic 3rd person shooters, however trying to improve it would be almost regarded as sacrilegious to the Gears of War community. Thankfully The Coalition got to work and delivered finely tuned gameplay mechanics that made every fan around the world take notice that Gears of War is in great hands. The way they did this was masterful because they took all the pieces of an already amazing system, then consulted many, many years of fan feedback of both good and bad, and then made each single aspect of the gameplay experience just a little bit better.

For instance: Gameplay actions such as reviving your teammates from cover and swapping weapons while roadie running are just a couple of the many gameplay tweaks and improvements found throughout every moment of this Ultimate Edition. This is also thanks to a drop in/drop out system that is as smooth as silk. Join when you want, leave when you want, and the transition is seamless and is truly an example to the other companies out there how to get things done just right.

If you haven't played Gears of War, what you need to know before jumping in is essentially that humanity is on the brink of extinction against the Locust Horde and have formed a Coalition of Ordered Governments, or COGs, to try and preserve any hope of a future. With hope hanging by a thread, protagonist Marcus Fenix is called upon to deliver what humanity desperately needs; a future. If you have previously played it, then you will enjoy the fact that the five exclusive campaign missions that were found on the PC release have also been included, so if you never got the chance to experience them previously, now is your time.

While all of this plays a major role in the development and execution of campaign mode, if we're honest with one another, multiplayer is where we find the soul of this game. The Coalition knew this, which is why they unloaded 19 maps to frag opponents to your heart's desire. But these aren't just your ported maps either. Nope, this is actually a completely rebuilt multiplayer that allows for new experiences such as their 2v2. When you couple that with the fact that the dedicated servers ensure a quality and solid match and a locked-in 60fps at 1080p, you really are in for a treat when it comes to the multiplayer experience.

So is Gears of War Ultimate Edition an HD remake? A quick cash grab of a company seeking to line their pockets with easy money from an established fan base? Not one bit. Any doubts or disbelief that The Coalition couldn't do the Gears of War IP justice were put to rest when you play the final product.

Way back when most of us were glued to the internet during the E3 of '05 and learning all we could about this upcoming game called Gears of War, what we were actually witness to was one of the greatest moments in gaming; the birth of a legend. Epic Games delivered an experience that many hail to this day as one of the greatest 3rd person shooter games of all time.

However as times change, so must the franchise, which is why Microsoft created The Coalition to make sure that Gears of War has a bright future ahead of itself. What we have seen from The Coalition is nothing short of a miracle. Now we have experienced what they can do when they set their goals on what I'm calling rebuilding a legend. I am eager to see them create one themselves.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.7 / 10
Visuals: 9.3 / 10
Sound: 9.2 / 10


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