Gears of War as we know it today is a well-established, behemoth of a franchise capable of pulling in scores of gamer’s online, week in, week out. For some of you Gears of War: Ultimate Edition may well be your first foray into the Gears of War franchise and if it is you couldn’t have picked a better moment to get involved.
Let’s do a quick overview for those that haven’t played the original Gears of War. Gears is a third person shooter which was developed by Epic Games and subsequently published by Microsoft Studios in November 2006. It was an exclusive title for the 360, however A PC version followed a year later (which People Can Fly had an input on) featuring new content such as additional campaign levels, a new multiplayer game mode, and Games for Windows – Live functionality. You battled on the planet known as Sera.
Gears Ultimate Edition is published by Microsoft but the Coalition (formerly Black Tusk Studios) were responsible for the upgrading of the original Gears of War into Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. The additional scenes from the original PC exclusive versions have been included in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition as it wouldn’t be so ultimate without those additional scenes.
The campaign of the game focuses on the troops of Delta Squad. Your enemy is known as the Locust Horde. You assume the role of Marcus Fenix, a former soldier in prison for treasonous war crimes, what exactly these are is largely glossed over but every man is needed former criminal or not. Dominic Santiago is an old friend and is busting you out of prison. Dom can be either AI controlled or human controlled through local or online co-operative campaign.
The campaign is meant to be played through on the hardest difficulty casually gliding through it on anything else is too easy and completely pointless, it isn’t challenging at all. If you’re new I’d suggest learning the ropes on hardcore mode first as again on casual it is absolutely pointless as a difficulty level.
Gears of War for me is one of, if not the best game for cover and shoot gameplay mechanics. Campaign allows for you to battle locust in set piece scenarios, now The Coalition have done a fabulous job on the graphics and remastering the cutscenes. The computer AI however is not so hot, glitches and lack of AI intelligence hasn’t been altered. For a game in 2006, these kind of glitches and issues were acceptable really but for an Xbox One release they are plain frustrating. I lost count of the amount of times I found myself chainsawing a locust in half to suddenly being face down staring at a pool of my own blood apparently downed by the locust I’d been chainsawing in half. It is a bit of a shame The Coalition didn’t tackle this. The story mode is a marvel graphically and definitely worth the time watching the cutscenes, if you don’t you’re just missing out.
One of the best things about Gears was and still is that when you were are the last man standing for your team, all eyes are on you to dispatch the enemy. Sometimes you win and sometimes you just don’t…
The online is missing horde mode, which suits me fine, horde mode wasn’t a feature in the original Gears of War and probably doesn’t have a place in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. That said this was a popular mode for lots of people. I’d imagine The Coalition left this out as it would have been lots of effort when a remaster is concerned.
Online has several game modes split between competitive and social matches, honestly the only difference I can see is that people tend to stick around in competitive a bit longer than in social and competitive means you are waiting much longer to get playing. If you’re into your stats and leaderboards competitive matches will be the best option for you.
The online game modes are all teams of 4 vs 4 with either you playing as humans or locust, with simple loadouts, the only variation on this are that skins have been introduced if you’re happy to give away your position use a bright yellow skin on your weapons, makes it easier for everyone else to see where you are. The game modes vary slightly, you have warzone which is means once you’re down you have to be picked up and you can be finished off from a distance. Execution is the same style of game mode but you can pick yourself up by mashing the A button and enemies can’t finish you off from a distance they have to be close. There are other game modes but they tend to be variations of these two modes, with respawning and capturing rings etc.
If you’re new to Gears the learning curve to play online is pretty steep, you can’t complete campaign and then be an online expert you will get destroyed. The best thing to do is understand and work out your play style and adapt, SOME of the guys and gals you’ll be playing have been Gears of War series veterans for a long time and will be using some of the old techniques to kill you. The best advice is get a team and play Warzone or Execution to limit your deaths and watch how other people play when you’ve been checked out early on in the round.
One of the best things about Gears was and still is that when you were are the last man standing for your team, all eyes are on you to dispatch the enemy. Sometimes you win and sometimes you just don’t.
One of the main things that plagued the old Gears online was that people hosted lobbies and therefore whoever is host had a significant advantage over those connecting to them. With dedicated servers this advantage is still present (as someone has to host) however it is less visible.
If this is your first time in the Gears franchise or you’re a veteran of the series you won’t be disappointed by Gears Ultimate Edition. It is testament to the original that The Coalition have only tinkered with some elements of the game and largely left it the same. The game still holds up as a best in class multiplayer and the sheer numbers of people playing it online just shows how popular this title is.