Platform Reviewed: PC Platforms Available: Xbox One, Windows 10 Publisher: Microsoft Developer: Epic Games, The Coalition Release Date: August 25, 2015 MSRP: $29.99
I’ve been a PC gamer for most of my life, so the Gears of War universe was always sort of closed off to me until the release of the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. Because of this, I’m not able to compare the Ultimate Edition with the original Gears of War, making this review based off of the merits of the remastered version alone with no bias based on how it varies from the original title.
The story remains the same as the original, with the additional chapters more-or-less just giving you more time to kill some Locusts with a chainsaw bayonet. Main character, Marcus Fenix, is a disgraced war hero broken out of prison to save the planet from the Locust swarm. Along with him is Dom (the “trusty” sidekick,) Cole (the hilarious badass that will just run down a door,) and Baird (the guy who’s eternally salty that you outrank him, but listens anyway.) Working “together” your job is to infiltrate and destroy the Locusts before they destroy you.
The opening trailer for the game is gorgeous, and the surround sound (with a virtual surround 7.1 headset) was pretty damn impressive. I half expected the trailer to be a majority of the funding, but when I got into the game it was an amazingly detailed environment that ran smoothly at 60 FPS (most of the time.) This game is capable of resolutions up to 4k, but only for the Windows 10 version. Unfortunately, I don’t have a 4k monitor, so I wasn’t able to test how the game looks or runs at its advertised highest level.
I ran this game on normal difficulty for my first play-through, and while challenging, wasn’t overly tilting at any points. There were a few places that required some more work to get through, but I never got stuck anywhere long enough to disrupt the flow of the game. The cinematics continue to deliver and the story is engaging without being overly obnoxious. Generally, the game flows great in every sense, from the controls to graphics to story, it’s rare to feel like you’re battling the game.
While moving through the world, you view it in third person until you choose to scope in on your weapon. At first, the constant transition between third and first person was a bit odd, but it didn’t take long to become comfortable with and anyone who’s played the Gears of War games before will definitely have no problem adjusting. The combat (Again, normal difficulty) is fun, fast paced, but strategic and engaging. There’s no better feeling than trying to Long Rifle a sniper and suddenly there’s 14 Wretches on your face. I wasn’t expecting this game to horrify me the way it did in those moments.
Now, there are some things to be said about a game trying to cram too much into a limited space. There were times in combat where frames would drop and they would drop HARD. Usually it wasn’t long enough to actually impact the battle itself, but it could become incredibly frustrating when trying to kite something back while Dom is off DBNO (Dead But Not Out) somewhere, crying for help. While we’re on the topic of Dom, your AI partner can be a bit difficult to control at times. It was hard considering this a negative because, honestly, it was hilarious seeing how often I could trap Dom in a perpetual state of death by the Kryll.
Overall, this game was incredibly enjoyable from the standpoint of a first time Gears of War player. It was one of the more fun campaign experiences I’ve had in a very long time, and at 15 hours for a first play-through, it’s not too bad for a game that’s $30 USD at the time of this review. On top of an improved multiplayer experience and a good chunk of replayability, it’s hard not to recommend this game. It’s also really fun seeing what terrible situations you can get Dom stuck in.
This review is based off the review code provided by the developers/publishers.