GC2015 Preview: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition

Remasters aren’t a rare thing in the industry nowadays, however the quality of some may be hit and miss when it comes to the work involved with refining the titles in question for current generation hardware. Gears of War is one of the next titles to enter this generation with a fresh coat of paint, though our session with Gears of War’s refined campaign opened up the blinds, revealing more of the inner workings of The Coalition’s reworking of this classic Xbox 360 title.

For its Xbox One counterpart Gears of War’s assets have been completely re-done for the current generation, replacing much (if not all) of the basis of the original, providing higher quality models, refined animations, redone cutscenes and a tweaked control scheme that takes notes from the sequels when it comes to controller layouts and responsiveness.

STILL_GOW_0003_Downpour Ultimate Edition 1For our first demo members of the press were separated into groups of two, who would go through the levels in co-op as we got our first hands-on with the campaign. The chapter in question was Act 3 (Downpour), a reasonably quiet level, but its setting was the entire reason The Coalition set us on this path. For those unfamiliar with Downpour, the level is set around a dark factory, after the COG’s have been stranded there in the middle of the night. The level is set through dark interiors and exteriors with a purpose to show off the new GPU rain effects and reflections, which made the moody visuals of the level pop even more than it did in its 360 counterpart. Me and my colleague walked through the level was we were met with occasional enemy encounters, but this introduction was really meant to serve us with a prime example of what the Ultimate Edition can do when it comes to enhancing not only graphics and performance, but the creative design of the game in question.

What was up next lead us to the action-packed part of the sessions, which was also a section of the game that was previously only available to PC players of the first game. The X1’s newly added chapter: Powers That Be, is one of the parts of the Ultimate Edition’s 90 minutes of newly added gameplay, which puts players in another industrial setting where they are met with multiple enemy encounters. Again our sessions was split into groups of two (albeit due to a technical error sessions were mismatched) and we set on our offensive against the Locust in this small, but impressive taster of what The Coalition has done to improve the game.STILL_GOW_0001_Downpour Ultimate Edition 9The visuals of Gears of War are noted as to be presented in 1080p at 60 frames per second, which was apparent from the opening minutes of our session. Not every animation was perfectly fluid, but as an overall presentation The Coalition did not fail to impress with their interpretation of the game, which when put next to the original version shows players quite a world of difference when it comes to performance. A note would be that whilst the facial models did seem more detailed, but the animations did seem to be comparable to Square-Enix’s definitive edition of Tomb Raider, which had its newly-made facial models create a more static expression when it came to animations.

But of course, performance is one thing, but how does Gears of War Ultimate compare when it comes to actually playing it? That’s a pretty cool story, as The Coalition didn’t just port the game and touch up the graphics, but they also took feedback from the community and previous titles to enhance the control scheme to essentially make the experience a best of both worlds when it comes to usability and responsiveness.
STILL_GOW_0000_Layer 1For franchise fans the controls should be very familiar, and for newcomers it should be pretty straightforward as well, which is a huge plus considering Gears of War Ultimate could quite well create a whole new generation of fans in anticipation of Gears of War 4.

Players of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition will receive backward compatible copies of Gears of War 1, 2 3 and Judgement, along with access to the exclusive Gears of War 4 beta. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition will also be available on PC at a later date.