Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: The Coalition
Release Date: 8/24/2015
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Gears of War has always had a special place in my heart, especially the first game. It introduced me to the next generation; a whole new fidelity of gaming. HD gaming was only a possibility on PC, but with Xbox 360 we could now play games in 1080p natively. Gears of War was the best-looking game made at the time and it featured revolutionary combat, cover mechanics, multiplayer, a unique art style, well-designed enemies, and great characters. It featured traits that most shooters don’t possess which threw it to the mainstream and became one of the best-selling games of all time. Gears of War single-handedly helped sell the Xbox 360 during the holidays of 2006.
The game still holds up perfectly fine 10 years later. While it feels a bit dated compared to newer games in the series, there’s a simpler more personal touch in this game than say Gears of War 4. Each location is unique, the game is perfectly paced, and the story unfolds in a way to keep you interested all the way until the end. Thankfully the team kept the balancing and mechanics exactly the way they were in Gears 1 and didn’t update them. All the weapons feel the same and the characters even move the same.
The only thing that has changed is the visual upgrade which uses Unreal Engine 4 and makes the game look absolutely amazing. Running at 60FPS in 1080p is nice, but being upscaled to 4K on the Xbox One S is just pure eye candy. Honestly, this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve played through this game and I never get sick of it. The original Gears campaign is just so well designed and wonderfully set up that you can’t help but play through it once a year.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on how Gears of War is played because every Xbox fan has played at least one by now. Gears do take inspiration from other games like Resident Evil 4’s over-the-shoulder camera and Kill Switch’s cover system. Unreal Tournament’s art style and heavy-handedness on weapons, as well as the gore, was also taken. Playing as Marcus Fenix in Delta Squad you are tasked with deploying a light bomb resonator to help map the Locust’s stronghold who are trying to kill all life on Sera. You personally feel like you are part of this war and the game really shows the devastation and sheer loneliness thanks to epic set pieces and small detailed cut scenes.
Gameplay consists of arena-based shooting in which you go into a large open area with cover, kill everything, then move on. Enemies vary from Locust drones to giant Corpsers. Each enemy requires a special way to be taken down and your arsenal is some of the most unique in any shooter. The Lancer is now a gaming icon with the chainsaw bayonet that helped propel Gears into the mainstream. Cutting a locust in half is one of the most satisfying things to ever do in a game. The Gnasher shotgun, Snub, Boltok Pistol, Boomshot, and various other weapons are just perfectly made and designed for this type of game. You will use each weapon and change your loadout according to enemy type and the environment. This is hard to do in shooters and Gears does it best.
Without going into the game too much I have to say that co-op is well worth it and multiplayer takes a small upgrade. Added are game modes seen in sequels and all the maps have been updated. You can also play as characters from later games. If you loved Gears 1 multiplayer suite then this is for you. I personally find Gears of War a hard multiplayer shooter to get into because it’s tough as nails and requires an extreme amount of skill. I also feel the mechanics aren’t right for multiplayer, but it’s still a lot of fun and plenty of invested time will yield great results.
With that said I still feel this is worth a purchase for long-time fans and newcomers. Just the visual upgrade alone is well worth the cost and the added PC acts are a nice plus since that version is no longer available to purchase and not playable anymore. To briefly sum up this new act, Delta Squad must get to Timgad Station and turn on the power to a bridge that leads to the train yard before the end of the game. During this act, they are chased by a Brumak and the end of the act ensures a shootout with one. It’s a great piece and was sadly cut from the 360 version due to time constraints.
Overall, the Ultimate Edition ups the visuals and preserves the game just how we remembered it. With the added act from the PC version, upgrade multiplayer, and added content for it, there’s no reason not to play the Xbox 360’s best shooter. You will be playing a piece of gaming history.