Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition Brings The Vreems To Xbox One Screens
If there is to be a defining moment in the Xbox 360’s long-running lifespan, it has to be the day Gears of War released. After much hype and anticipation, with a fresh not-oft-seen cover mechanic and a gritty, grey world that reeked of death and desperation, the original Epic Games developed Gears of War was a turning point for gaming and popularised all of the above, plus a lot more for the gaming industry. The kind of change that lasted for years to come. Cover shooters. Gritty, grey game worlds. A morose aesthetic of death and destruction. You name it, Gears of War was the patriarchal harbinger of a generation, with added chainsaw rifles.
So of-freaking-course they’re going to bring it to the new generation!
Name: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Genre: Third person shooter
Players: 1 – 2
Multiplayer: Online competitive, cooperative
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Developers: The Coalition, Splash Damage
Publishers: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: 28 August 2015
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Let’s be honest with each other here, the one thing that is sorely missing from the Xbox One’s current games lineup is the new generation replacement for Gears of War. Gears of War had a massive following on the Xbox 360 but thus far has remained elusive on the Xbox One. The new, rebooted Gears of War title is still a ways off and in the meantime, people want their vreems man.
As it so happens, we live in a time when developers are (I’d say happily but I don’t honestly know if that’s the case) releasing remastered remake HD definitive editions of their games left, right and centre. To their credit Microsoft Game Studios have been doing this a bit better than other publishers, by fully recreating (from the ground up) their most popular game series to work on the Xbox One. To some this might reek of desperation, or a lack of direction. To others, they finally get to sample the oft-discussed but now-outdated Halo series, through Halo: Master Chief Collection. Or relive many years of nostalgic bliss with the Rare Replay that boasts some thirty game offerings from as far back as the 1980s.
Or, at last, get in on the chainsaw action with the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.
It must quickly be established that the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is a not a complete digital recreation of the entire series, as I had initially been led to believe. In truth, it’s just the first Gears of War that has been recreated, with the sequels (Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, and Gears of War: Judgment) releasing later as part of the Ultimate Edition via the Xbox One’s recently announced Backwards Compatibility feature, meaning they are just the Xbox 360 versions running on Xbox One. You won’t hear any complaints from most fans but given the time on offer (assuming developer The Coalition was aware of the Xbox One before the public) I want to hazard a thought that more could have been done here (UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention via the comments that Microsoft only had the Gears license for a year, so fair enough!). And hey, if not now, then maybe in the future. In the same way that 343 Industries released Halo: ODST to the Halo: MCC long after it launched.
Wishful thinking perhaps?
Still, at the $40 price point you can’t call Gears of War: Ultimate Edition overpriced for what it does give you, and the updated Gears of War does look the part. Dropping the dreary but artistically gorgeous aesthetic from the original, the Ultimate Edition brings refreshed, more lively visuals more in-line with current-day trends, and finally waves goodbye to the horrendous Unreal Engine 3 (sorry, but I hated it). It also reintroduces the previously PC-exclusive Brumak boss fight for Xbox gamers to sample for the first time, together with a few more “never before seen” chapters to sweeten the deal. Check out the video below for a neat little graphics comparison between the original Gears of War and the recreated Ultimate Edition. Trigger warning: Old, outdated graphics might disturb you.
From the official Gears of War: Ultimate Edition website, here is a full list of the changes introduced in the Ultimate Edition:
- Remastered for Dolby 7.1 Surround
- 90 mins of new campaign content from the original PC game
- New Xbox Live achievements (1,250 Gamerscore)
- Concept art gallery and unlockable comics
- Modernized Multiplayer featuring:
- 60 frames per second
- Dedicated servers
- Skill-based matchmaking
- New game types – Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill (Gears of War 3 style), and new 2v2 Gnasher Execution
- Total of 19 maps, including all DLC and PC-exclusive maps
- 17 unlockable Gears of War 3 characters for Multiplayer progression
- More Match customization including Actives, Respawn Time, Self-revive and Weapon Respawn
- Modernized gameplay with smoother movement and updated controls:
- Alternate Controls and all new Tournament Controls
- All controls tuned for Xbox One
- Adding the Gears of War 3 features you love: Enemy Spotting, Multiplayer Tac-Com, Improved sensitivity customization
But we don’t really care about all of that.
Question: Can you play Gears of War on your Xbox One now?
For the moment you will only be able to play the recreated, refreshed, reimagined Gears of War in the Ultimate Edition. Later this year the other three Gears titles will drop via Backwards Compatibility, and will work with your previous save-games (though I haven’t been able to source how exactly this is possible), feature the usual achievements, and allow you to cross-play with friends on both Xbox One, and Xbox 360 (presumably PC as well, but don’t quote me on that). So that’s kinda neat! Vreems for all!
While the mere existence of Gears of War on the Xbox One (and PC after many years, once more) is laudable, it does bear mention that the multiplayer component of the game, much like the singleplayer, is mostly contained within the original Gears of War, barring a few exceptions. What this means is, there is no Horde mode. This might be a deal-breaker for some (it was for me). This might also bring things back to a more traditional multiplayer style and hey, if you aren’t having any of the close-quarters gnasher shotgun madness, perhaps
you need to go back to Assassin’s Creed the other Gears titles, when they’re available, might be for you?
To make the dearth of current multiplayer variety a little easier to deal with, Microsoft has allowed Ultimate Edition purchasers access to the Gears of War reboot’s multiplayer beta programs next year.
Here is another video for you to watch (yay for YouTube!) — this one, a behind the scenes look at what went into the creation of the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition remaster.
Suspected Selling Points
- It’s Gears of War on your Xbox One (or PC).
- Lower price-point with the promise of lots of content to come.
- Cross-play and competitive multiplayer means loads of fun with friends.
- The Xbox One’s matchmaking has proven troublesome, especially here in SA.
- It’s still ultimately (heh) just a remaster.
- They really could have at least tried to recreate all the Gears games.
For its price, it’s going to be difficult to resist Gears of War: Ultimate Edition when it releases next week. To tell the truth, while it’s not the best of offerings given that only one of the games in the series has been remastered, it nevertheless remains a genre-defining game that has found its way to a new generation of consoles. And really, that sort of pedigree sells itself. Add in the chainsaw-lancer madness and you’ve got yourself what will undoubtedly be a console-pusher, especially for fans of the series who want back in on the action. The question is, does that on its own hold up, or is this just going to be an expensive means of sating our desires while we bide our time until the new Gears of War releases? Time, and classy locusts, will tell.