|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.
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.
Date: August 25, 2015