Friday, 2 October 2015

Gearing up for the ultimate

Gears Of War Ultimate Edition

Platform tested: Xbox One

Xbox 360's flagship game of 2006 is remastered on to the Xbox One. Bring on Gears Of War Ultimate Edition!

I bought the original Gears back in 2007, shortly after purchasing my Xbox 360. I instantly fell in love with this classic. I loved the world design, controls and fantastic cover shooter mechanics. The series quickly grew to a trilogy through the 360's lifespan, and even gave way for a spin-off. The developer, of the latter, are the guys behind this remake and the up and coming Gears of War 4, due out next year.

Instead of opting for a simple remaster  by running the original game in 1080p@60fps, developer The Coalition, have opted for a remake approach. Bringing the graphics up to a modern level, while retaining the distinct look and feel of the classic. The music score and voice overs are kept untouched, while some of the cutscenes are altered for an improved and dramatic effect. As such it falls in the remake category, rather than being a simple remaster.

Replaying the game, I must admit that the decision to upgrade the graphics subtly, yet incredibly pretty, is a great one. It gives the impression of looking like how I remember the original. This gives the player a really strong nostalgic feeling of playing the game back in the day. Like I said, subtle, ye retaining the very typical Gears style in the level design with far improved graphics.

Playing this Ultimate Edition I realize how much I've missed the Gears world on my Xbox One, and I have truly enjoyed my replay of this gem. In my opinion the game itself has withstood the test of time, with many classic scenes and gameplay that still feels incredible tight by today's standard. Few third-person shooters, even today, come close to the quality of gameplay this series offers. Movement and aiming feels responsive, precise and smooth.

"...the decision to upgrade the graphics the impression of looking like how I remember the original"

I love that they have added the exclusive fifth chapter from PC version in 2007, further beefing out the length of this otherwise fairly short game. The more recent Gears sequels fixed the lifespan issue, but the original game on 360 always felt too short, though with many memorable moments. Replaying the game also reminds me that this first game was far darker and more horror-like than the sequels and series in general became. This may change though as the E3 trailer this proved that Gears 4 seems to be going for a darker and more scary style again.

If there's a complaint to be made, it's definitely missing the 60 frames per second framerate for the singleplayer, though I guess they opted for more detailed graphics in the end. Luckily though, multiplayer is 60 fps! It really makes a difference. Proving even further how tight the Gears gameplay is, with the added smoothness and precision of 60 fps. Here you get all the classic multiplayer maps and gameplay from the first Gears. It pulls in some cool elements and movement styles from Gears 3, like the excellent (and my favourite) mode; King Of The Hill and multi directional rolling.

Being reunited with Marcus, Dom, Baird and  Cole eight years later has been a pleasant experience in this Ultimate Edition. While I would perhaps have enjoyed some new areas, a 60 fps singleplayer, and perhaps a remake of all the Gears games, it has positively kept itself very true to the original. Going down in history alongside Tomb Raider Anniversary and Resident Evil Remake as excellent remasters of already excellent originals.

Even if you are fan of the Gears or never played the series before, you really should give this game a playthrough. Time has proven it as a classic and what better way is it to play it in upgraded graphics and full HD?! If you are really looking for an even greater time with this title; I urge you to play it through cooperatively with a friend, online or offline in splitscreen. A great coop experience and tons of fun!

One could only ask yourself; would it not have been better if they had ran all the four Gears games from the 360 in 1080p@60fps, without the graphical update? A kind Halo MCC style, called Marcus Phoenix Collection on the Xbox One. It's an interesting thought, but luckily the end product is a fantastic one nevertheless.



    All four 360 classics of the series are available as a free download, if you play the game before the year ends online, they become available for download when backwards compatibility arrives later this autumn!

    + Plus points

    • Remastered graphics.
    • 60 fps multiplayer.
    • Fifth chapter PC bonus levels finally added for Xbox players.

    - Minus points

    • 30 fps singleplayer.
    • Only the first game remasted.
    • Would not a 1080@60fps version of all four Gears game been sufficient?

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