By Michael Battista
The original “Gears of War” video game was launched into the gaming market in late 2006 and quickly became a fan-favorite. Nine years later, “Gears of War Ultimate Edition” is now being made available on the Xbox. The new release looks to rekindle the spirit and excitement of the original in a package that’s familiar, but also refreshingly modern.
Developed under the direction of series creator Rod Fergusson and The Coalition Studio, the title is a re-release of the original game with enhanced features and gameplay. The game’s assets have been completely remade from the ground up using modern game design methods. “Gears of War Ultimate Edition” includes new story chapters, boosted 1080P graphics and 60 frames per second multiplayer.
The story takes place on a fictional Earth-like planet called Sera, where humans are locked in a deadly war against the Locust, a subterranean species of reptilian creatures. Players take on the role of former war criminal Marcus Fenix, who is now a soldier fighting for the human race in a 12-year long war that could lead to total extinction. Throughout the story, Marcus and his fellow soldiers fight the varied Locust creatures in an attempt to set off a device which could end the conflict and spell victory for humanity.
Players are thrown into the war with little backstory. This unconventional aspect of the game serves to make it more realistic, as it would be unusual for characters to stop and explain the conflict in the midst of battle.
Dedicated fans can learn more about the rich world and characters featured in “Gears of War” through the franchise novels and comics that have been released over time.
The gameplay within “Gears of War Ultimate Edition” is quite similar to the original release, which includes a standard third person shooter with cover mechanics. The new game, however, has smoother and more accurate shooting than previous editions in the series.
The single player story remains largely similar to the original, with unchanged voice acting and orchestral soundtrack. The cutscenes, however, have been remade and now allow for more detailed characters and enhanced emotion in what used to be very plain and generic scenes. A scene you may have seen 10 times before in previous editions of the game will now look new and feature a different viewpoint of the action. For this reason, “Gears of War Ultimate Edition” can be equally exciting for new players and returning fans alike.
The game’s multiplayer feature has also received an overhaul but still manages to remain true to the series staples. Faster paced matches along with dedicated servers to handle weaker internet connections make the game an experience that both newcomers in social, non-intense matches and veterans in competitive, high-skill matches can enjoy equally.
“Gears of War Ultimate Edition” sticks out in a world where remakes and remasters have been coming out left and right for the past two years. The new release of “Gears of War” holds more than just a few updated graphics. The latest edition of the game has been remade, but will still feel familiar to those who fell in love with the original.
“Gears of War Ultimate Edition” adds enough of the new, while retaining much of the older editions to make it worth the $40 price tag. Throw in the fact that players now have access to all previous “Gears of War” editions for free on the Xbox One via backwards capability, and you have yourself a worthy investment.