Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Review
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Box Art
System: Xbox One
Dev: The Coalition
Pub: Microsoft Game Studios
Release: August 25, 2015
Players: 1-2 co-op; 1-10 PvP
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language

Straight up, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is gorgeous, despite the dilapidated and industrial backdrop. Every frame tells a story of the magnitude of the war against the Locust, and the casualties from their overwhelming attack that began fourteen years prior to the events of the game, not to mention humanity's resource war preceding the emergence of the Locust. Though every chapter is saturated with a grayscale wash, the detailing is remarkable. The overall design remains from the original, but each piece has been completely remodeled, making it hard not to stand idle and pan the camera after clearing an area of enemies. However, this makes the juxtaposition between the environments and the character models all the more obvious. Don't get me wrong, the characters all look great, but their designs are somewhat more stylized than the realistic ruins they travel through. Dom's face always looks freshly washed, Baird's hair remains perfectly groomed, and Cole's exposed biceps gleam like an oiled baby's bottom. Exposing the wear of their continued struggle would have helped provide authenticity to their journey.

Rare Replay Screenshot

The music follows a similar criticism. The fully orchestrated symphony is well composed, but oftentimes feels overly cinematic during some of the game's morose moments. The subtle and disheartening melody of the title screen is enough to wipe the smile off of any face, and many scenes in the game would benefit from this subtlety, rather than dozens of strings and brass instruments blaring through the speakers. The sound effects, on the other hand, are pitch perfect. Weapons fire with impact, the Lancer tears through flesh, and even ambient effects like dripping water and bubbling lava-like Imulsion radiate through the speakers. John DiMaggio and the rest of the vocal cast give a stellar performance and nail their respective characters' personalities.

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition does little to pervert the gameplay formula of the original, as it is held fervently close to the heart by many a fan of the series. Instead, The Coalition takes the template and heightens its controls and visuals to a level that puts other games fresh off the press to shame. It's the same great game you loved nearly a decade ago, it just looks and feels a whole lot better.

Sean Engemann
Contributing Writer
Date: August 25, 2015

The most stunning war-torn backdrop I've even seen. Every piece of rubble paints a picture of what the world of Sera has suffered. The characters could have also used that kind of attention to detail, but overall the game is a visual masterpiece.
Gears of War redefined the cover-based shooter, and Ultimate Edition refines it even further. Silky smooth animations and a solid frame rate bolster the engagement.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
A bit overzealous with the orchestra, but otherwise the audio is superb.
Play Value
The story is brief and simple, but the gameplay wholly satisfying, with plenty of multiplayer modes to keep you engaged well after the campaign is finished.
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Experience the game that launched one of the most celebrated sagas in entertainment with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. The shooter that defined the first generation of HD gaming has been painstakingly remastered in 1080P and modernized for Xbox One, and is packed full of new content including five campaign chapters never released on Xbox.
  • The story of "Gears of War" thrusts gamers into a deep and harrowing battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the depths of the planet. Players live and breathe the role of Marcus Fenix. A disgraced former war hero, Marcus seeks personal redemption as he leads his fire team against an onslaught of merciless warriors from below.
  • The landmark original Gears of War has been completely rebuilt from the ground up in full 1080P. Every aspect of the game including lighting, environments, characters, and cinematic scenes have been beautifully recreated - this is the first at its best!
  • The most visceral online shooter returns, now at 60 FPS. Includes all original 19 maps remastered and six competitive modes including new Team Death Match, updated King of the Hill and a special 2v2 mode designed by the Gears community.

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