Jeff Markiewicz On August 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Gears of War Ultimate Edition Logo SmallGears of War was released by Epic Games in the fall of 2006 for the Xbox 360. This game was one of the defining titles from that era and was the beginning of one of its most popular franchises. Now nearly a decade later this beloved game has been plucked out by developer The Coalition to be remastered. The last time another developer touched the franchise, there was a noticeable drop in quality. Plus, when Gears of War was first released, it was an instant hit and quickly garnered over 30 game of the year awards. Being remastered nearly a decade later, can the new squad do the original game justice?

If you’ve never played Gears of War before, the story tells of a war between the last remaining humans on a world called Sera and a mysterious foe that has come from within the planet’s crust. On the day the war broke out, over a quarter of the human population perished in the initial attacks. The player assumes the role of Marcus Fenix, 14 years after this date. At the start, Marcus is locked up in a military prison for disobeying orders and the fate of humanity looks grim. Fortunately, you’re released by a close friend and go on a mission that could potentially mark the end to the conflict.

The Ultimate Edition comes complete with the missing chapters that were released only on the PC but overall the story is the same. If you never experienced it before, the premise of the world and the events are really compelling. Unfortunately, when put into practice, the story is a mess and how it links together is a bit nonsensical and silly. The additional chapters also just feel like deleted content and don’t add anything to the overarching story. This negativity therefore brings up an interesting question then, why was the game so special?

The game was special because of the gameplay. Gears of War is a third-person cover-based shooter. It was not the first game like this, nor has it been the last. What Gears of War did that others typically fail at is that it nailed the feel. The game simply felt great to play. In this remastered version, the game still feels great to play. Typically in remasters, the game feels old or clunky because it was made years in the past but this one still feels fresh. I am certain this is partially due to some tweaks on the part of the developer but it’s largely due to the great foundation that they started with. The game still suffers from some hiccups though. Teammates are often found standing around doing nothing and when they do attempt to help you, they just suck. The krill instant failure sections are still annoying. Overall though, the single player is well worth a play through. If you can get a friend to play with you, the cooperative experience solves the teammate complaint and is a blast to experience.

Whereas the single player is a fun experience, the meat of this title for most people is the multiplayer. The original proved to be an incredible team-based experience for many people but it was constantly marred by host-advantage and people exploiting standby glitches. Luckily, this main complaint has been corrected by the use of dedicated servers. No longer will the games be hosted by another player in the game and no longer will the standby glitch work. This almost means there will be no excuses for when you get decimated by your friends. In addition to dedicated servers, all the maps from downloadable content and the PC release are included. All of the maps have been graphically improved and the multiplayer is 60 frames per second. As well, there are a couple new game modes and some new options for customizing your own games. Overall, it’s a solid improvement to the base game and the only complaint is that there is no way to quickly jump into a social or competitive game via matchmaking, you’ll have to go in and select the specific game mode you want.

When Gears of War came out on the Xbox 360, it looked amazing. It was one of the first titles that felt like it was built from the ground up to take advantage of new system instead of simply being an upscaled game from the prior generation. Now, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is a remaster, not a remake so it’s still the same guts but developer The Coalition has done a good job at giving the game some fresh paint. First, all the multiplayer maps have been rebuilt yet retain the same layouts that you remember. Secondly, all of the cutscenes in the single player have been completely redone. The game has been increased to 1080p and the multiplayer runs at 60 frames per second. While on the surface there are a lot of things that still hold up, there are also a lot of parts that are starting to show their age both graphically and animation wise.

The sound design is still great and fits completely within the tone of the game. Some sounds have been switched out with a higher-fidelity version and other sounds have been completely redone. It’s hard to pick out the different aspects that they did, just that it sounds a sliver better than before. Despite the changes, it still feels head-to-toes Gears of War. Everything sounds loud, clunky, and over-the-top. The soundtrack hits all the cues it needs to hit. The game now boasts 7.1 audio which is a nice addition for those that can utilize that. Overall there are some minor improvements but at the end of the day, the existing Gears of War sound design still shines today.

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is simply that, the ultimate edition of the first game in the series. It includes all the downloadable content plus the exclusive story chapters that only the PC version got. It’s a little weird that they chose to only do a single game instead of the whole franchise but after The Master Chief Collection, it feels understandable. On top of that, if you play the game this year, you will receive every single Gears of War title to play through backwards compatibility. If you were thrilled by it before or simply want to experience one of the defining titles from the past generation, this is for you. The gameplay surprisingly holds up and the addition of dedicated servers corrects one of the main complaints of the game.


The feel that was nailed over a decade ago is still here, just slightly aged. The story is still lackluster and the gameplay is still great. Dedicated servers are amazing.


Higher resolution and the higher framerate for multiplayer is great. All of the multiplayer maps have gotten a graphical pass-through. The single player inherits some benefits but is showing its age both graphically and animation-wise. The new cutscenes are nice.


Loud, clunky, and over-the-top. The sound design was fantastic when the game originally came out and is still great today. The minor touch-ups only serve to exemplify that.


The game surprisingly holds up today. The single-player is still a blast. The multiplayer is awesome with dedicated servers. And if you play anytime this year, you get all of the Gears of War titles.

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