In 2007 I was a Nintendo fanboy. Other than a quick detour into the land of Dreamcast it was all the big N for me. A friend of mine kept telling me about this new game he picked up for the XBox 360 called Gears of War. After hearing him gab about this for days I finally invited him over for dinner and he happened to bring the XBox 360 along with him.
From the moment the title screen appeared I was hooked. There was something about the dreary, beautiful art style that interested me to the point that I could not look away. It was the first time in years that I felt like I was playing something completely new.
A day after telling my wife how incredible that game was and how I felt like I was missing so many great games by strictly using Nintendo products, a mysterious box appeared under the Christmas tree. Unwrapping that console and playing my own copy of Gears of War for the first time gave me the same feeling I had when I was nine years old and unwrapped my NES after the box was cleverly hidden in another room in the house. I never thought I’d have that feeling again.
I’m extremely happy to report that that feeling came right back when I took Gears of War: Ultimate Edition for a spin. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is a remastered version of the original with completely reworked cinematics, a 60fps frame rate and 1080p resolution. The graphics in the original release were beautiful for it’s day, and the 1080p update makes the visuals almost stunning. The gameplay also holds up really well considering the controls are the same as they were in 2007; nothing was touched in that area. It truly shows that Epic Games was ahead of their time when the series started. The Koalition, a Microsoft internal studio now in charge of the series were very careful to ensure that the original vision for the game was kept intact and in my opinion they did a great job with that.
Now that all of that ranting is over, I’m gearing this review toward gamers who may have missed out on it or were too young to play the game in 2007. To those who have played it, you already know how great it is.
Players take on the role of Marcus Fenix, a former member of COG, a military faction tasked with defending the planet Sera against the Locust, a dangerous alien race that came not from space, but from underground and have destroyed seemingly everything. Marcus is part of Delta Squad, a small group of COG members who start out as simple NPC’s, but throughout the game the characters flesh out until the characters truly help to build the story and really show the friendship between them.
I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll keep it light on details but the story begins a seemingly random beginning that only begins to make sense throughout the game and really doesn’t truly become clear until the finale in Gears of War 3.
Controls are great, but what really sets this game apart from every other shooter out there is the cover system. It is one of the single biggest perfections in video games. Putting it in words doesn’t do it justice, and I wish I could convey it in words but it’s just about impossible. Simply put, it really helps balance the combat out even on the hardest difficulty. I never once felt completely overwhelmed while stuck in cover against an ambush.
Running in 1080p resolution, the graphics are unmatched. Although the landscape is basically rubble, it looks beautiful. To this day one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen.
Yes, this game is a love letter to the series. I may be biased, but it’s hard to argue that Gears of War changed the shooter landscape and set the bar high in the genre. It was a 10 then, and it’s a 10 now. Trust me, the game holds up.
Give Gears of War: Ultimate Edition a try and you’ll understand.