Gears of War: Ultimate Edition hands on – smooth, shiny shooting

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Though cover shooting wasn’t revolutionary by any means at the time, when Gears of War launched back in 2006 it proved just how fantastic and tight such a game mechanic could be. Gone was the traditional run and gun shooter, replaced instead with strategic, thoughtful gunplay requiring a degree of planning and foresight. The very same game that kicked off the successful franchise is getting a complete remake by means of an ultimate edition. I got some hands on time with it at Gamescom, and man, does it look fantastic!

When I say remake, I really mean it. The Coalition, the studio working on the game, have rebuilt the entire game from the ground up – at least in terms of actual assets. The score and voice acting for example, will remain untouched.

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The results visually, are simply gorgeous. Gears of War Ultimate Edition outputs at a glorious 1080p, all while running at a buttery smooth 60fps – in multiplayer at least. The campaign is locked to 30fps which still looks amazing regardless. This was demonstrated perfectly with Downpour, one of the maps I got to play on.

It’s a an atmospheric, moody, miserable place, filled with more rain than a summer afternoon in Johannesburg (or like, every day in Cape Town). The wet surfaces reflect everything beautifully, and are even more prominent when lightning decides to flashes casually. My eyeballs were mesmerised, and I found it difficult to battle the locust when I was too busy taking in my surroundings.

Take a look at the header image above. It is taken from the very same map I got to play. See how damn pretty it is? Don’t worry, I know a still image isn’t much to go on, which is why I will be sharing some gameplay footage I captured with you later this week.

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The visuals aren’t the only part of Gear of War that have received some modern day loving. The control scheme has been modernised. There’s still that familiarity that fans will appreciate however, including the awesome active reload mechanic that requires precise timing to ensure bonus damage. It took me a while to get used to again, but once I did, nailing it each time was immensely satisfying.

The story itself will be fleshed out further thanks to unlockable comics that can be found in-game. Also, for the first time on console, there will be the five additional missions that follow Delta Squad as they battle their way through Timgad Station – which means it’s Brumak-battling time!

There will be a new difficulty mode, too. Casual is perfect for those who find fighting locusts just a little too overwhelming, but still want to experience the epic campaign in its entirety.

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One part of Gears of War that many will be happy to dive back into once more is of course, the multiplayer. Coalition haven’t skimped in this department whatsoever. Ultimate Edition will come with dedicated servers, as well as LAN support. There will be 19 remastered maps to choose from. There are also new multiplayer modes including Team Death Match, King of the Kill, and a 2v2 mode.

Basically, if you couldn’t be bothered with the campaign, and would prefer to shoot opponents controlled by real people instead, there is more than enough multiplayer content to keep you busy for a very long time. Or if you want in on multiplayer that doesn’t involve competitive play, you can opt to play the campaign with a friend instead.

As if that wasn’t all enough, the Ultimate Edition will also come with the Xbox 360 versions of all Gears titles; 1, 2, 3, and Judgement. That really is a ton of content, all for the price of single game.

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Gears of War: Ultimate Edition will launch in American regions next week, on August the 25th, and everywhere else three days later. If you’ve missed out on the entire Gears of War franchise, or are a veteran looking to dive back into all the action, this really is the definitive package to grab.

The remake of the first game looks truly spectacular, and the addition of every other title is just a neat bonus. If you’re a fan of third person shooters, you definitely do not want to miss out on this!

Last Updated: August 17, 2015

Matthew Figueira

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

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