“If you are going to play Gears of War, then this is the place to do it.”
Gears of War is one of the Xbox 360’s most recognised and esteemed franchises. The original game, released ten years ago in 2006, helped to bring the cover shooter genre to acclaim and carry Microsoft’s biggest games console to great success. Now, in a freshly re-mastered form, Gears of War has hit both Xbox One and Windows 10 with a bang, offering an updated experience for fans of the game and new players alike. As part of the latter of these two groups, I was excited to have the chance to play a classic that at the original time of release I was deemed too young to enjoy. Finally I can play with that chainsaw gun!
My personal excitement aside, I was intrigued to see whether this game would still hold up ten years after its conceptualisation. Cover shooters are certainly lesser to the more common FPS formats that we are used to nowadays, and I wasn’t sure how well this experience was likely to hold up as a result. As with most classic titles however this one felt as current now as it must have done in 2006 once I got into the action. The mechanics of moving through cover as you engage the enemy feel very natural and in some cases more sensible than the standard run and gun technique. It is easy to slip in and out of hiding spots and take the fight to the enemy without any significant effort. Gears of War is definitely a case of getting the workings of a genre spot on in this respect.
Having seen and heard much about the original, it is clear that this game has been updated with care. The improvements both visually and in the game’s contents are notable, but the bulk of the game has been kept the same, maintaining its already successful structure. The iconic attitude, arsenal and aggression of Gears of War are all present, they just look better than ever before. The world is engaging and imposing through its monotone colours and lighting, adding believability to a story of peril. The characters look like real people, despite their inexplicable muscle structure. The guns look dangerous, the blood looks brutal and the enemy looks like dread on legs. If you thought the original game was gritty, then this version will make you feel like that grit is under your very own feet whilst you play. Naturally, PC players who will have the opportunity to experience the action in 4K are in for an added treat.
Maintained mechanics and significantly improved and detailed graphics form a strong base for the Ultimate Edition of the game, and the extended storyline certainly helps to hold things together, as well as adding extra incentive for returning fans. For a shooter, Gears of War has a surprisingly engaging storyline, whilst never playing into this too much to detract from the action. Similar to Halo but with a more realistic feel, the themes of an imminent threat from a more advanced race are matched by the determination to survive from the human characters on the frontline. The individual personalities of the key characters and their unique back stories add to the action by providing depth and significance to every step of the journey. As a whole, I was unexpectedly impressed by the whole experience.
Many players will not only be buying into the exciting storyline, but also the game’s distinctive multiplayer experience as well. The Ultimate Edition is the perfect place to experience Gears of War multiplayer, with the game including all previously released DLC maps from both the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the original. In order to add meaningful progression to the multiplayer, there are also 17 unlockable character models from Gears of War 3 on offer. On console, multiplayer plays at 60fps, with the refresh rate being fully unlocked on PC. This will offer gamers the cleanest, smoothest multiplayer that the series has seen to date. The range of different multiplayer modes on offer will keep you engaged all the while too, with classic Team Deathmatch, GoW3-style King of the Hill, the unique Blitz and the brand new 2v2 Gnasher Execution mode all on offer.
As a new player, my only criticism of the multiplayer experience is that I felt that I was at a significant disadvantage to others, with the learning curve for me being a steep one. It also wasn’t the most dynamic experience I have enjoyed, and I wasn’t sure that I liked the cover shooter mechanics and multiplayer gameplay together. It is easy to appreciate the unique action that comes from this, and the number of different maps available certainly means things don’t feel as samey as in other games. It wasn’t for me, and I am sure others will feel the same way, but for those who can appreciate and enjoy the style this game offers a fantastic package.
If you have ever wanted to play Gears of War and not had the chance, or you played it before and you happily do so again, then the Ultimate Edition is the perfect opportunity for you. An iconic game re-imagined in a fantastic value for money package, there are hours of gameplay to be enjoyed by players new and old on offer. An engaging story mode supports the pinnacle of the cover shooter genre in terms of mechanics, with iconic characters, weaponry and locations proudly making their shiny second appearance. Perfectly refreshed graphics make the whole experience a pleasure to observe. The multiplayer experience is one that fans of the series will highly appreciate too, however newer players may struggle to begin with. The package as a whole is a marker of just how good gaming can be. If you are going to play Gears of War, then this is the place to do it.
- The mechanics of the cover shooter genre are shown off at their best.
- The visual improvements upon the original are stunningly good.
- An engaging and deep storyline stands out from those of other shooters.
- A complete multiplayer experience including all maps and new variants offers a complete package for the game.
- 60fps gameplay on console and an unlocked rate with 4K visuals on PC mean the experience is faster and smoother than ever.
- Great value for money with culminates the complete contents of the original and its DLC expansions – perfect for fans and new players alike.
- Some players may find the cover shooter multiplayer not to their liking.
- New players will find multiplayer a significant challenge to being with.
- PC Version lacks the support through UWP (Unified Windows Platform)