Gears of War Ultimate Edition Review

Version reviewed: Xbox One

The best experiences make an emotional connection with the user which are implanted in our memories forver. Sometimes the subject matter is not relevant to the memory it evokes but it has the amazing ability to take us back in time to a part of our lives which would be otherwise lost. 

In the Spring of 2007, I was house hunting; needing somewhere to live for my final year at Uni. In the house I ended up renting a room at, I remember getting a tour and seeing something which I could not get out of my mind. On the top floor – my future room incidentally – one of the existing tenants was playing something loud. We opened the door and saw him sat there in complete darkness – curtains drawn and lights off. The massive (massive for 2007) TV flashed with bullet fire. The crisp, clear image of alien hordes charging forth is still vivid in my memory. This was my first experience of HD. This was my first experience with Gears of War. With the recent release of Microsoft’s Xbox Games Pass service, it seemed like the perfect time to rejoin the COG’s struggle and the locusts. 

Booting up the game revealed more memories tucked away. The familiar un-optimistic chime luring you in to this game which was the height of its art when the original released. We played through the opening missions – releasing Marcus from prison, getting hands on with the Hammer of Dawn and THAT feeling when a hopeful grenade shuts an emergence hole – wowed us once again by the fidelity of the graphics. This is a game which looks current-gen although we did notice a few animation irregularities. It didn’t, however, take long for a sinking feeling to set in. 

This is a fantastic update of the original with additional modes and bells and whistles. However the big issue is perhaps the most worrying – in 2017 this isn’t as much fun to play. Controlling Marcus Fenix feels 2006. We’re halfway through reviewing another game from that era – Resi 4 HD – which also suffers from this. Back then, tapping A into cover was intuitive, slick and smooth. In Ultimate Edition it was clunky, abrasive and jarring. The steady stream of HD remasters gives us the perfect chance to revisit these gems from the previous generations. The question is; should we? Are these games better off cast to the sands of time?

Gears’ story follows a tight time span as Marcus and crew face increasingly steep odds. Although the plot is forgettable, the player is always whisked along at a brisk pace. Again similar to Resi 4, the game takes place over a short space of time – heightening to tension. The world of Sera is a beautiful ruined future. Gothic architecture looms around you as your band of brothers push towards the final encounter with the locusts. 

If you played this game to death – this isn’t for you. You’ve seen it before. If you haven’t – there are better 3rd person shooters on the market in 2017. It makes us wonder, with all the fuss over remakes, re-releases and remasters, would a complete reimagining have been more poignant? Or is Gears, like many games do, one that simply belongs in its own era? 

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