Review: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition


I waited in the dark as this guy rushed over the bridge, his greedy eyeballs fixed on the grenade spawn just behind me. The now empty grenade spawn, but he didn’t know that. And just as he reached me, I stepped out and tagged him with one of those grenades, screeching in triumph as I backed out of the gib zone.

Game win for Team Hiss, and an epic fail for the COGlodytes.


Game info
Genre: Third-person shooter
Platform/s: PC / XBO
Reviewed on: XBO
Developer: Epic Games (original game) / The Coalition (Ultimate Edition)
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Distributor: Prima Interactive


I love Gears of War. I mean, I super-seriously-3.0 love Gears of War. I’ve got all the Gears of War action figures, my own Gears of War COG tags, and next month when I marry the man I met playing Gears of War, we’re having a Gears of War wedding cake. Gears of War. It’s kind of my thing.

So, instead of writing up one of those reviews that picks apart this, that, and the other bit of ultra-ambient syncing mesh at 300% zoom on dial-up under the disingenuous pretence of professional objectivity or whatever, here are three reasons why Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is the best Gears of War game ever.

1. It was always the best campaign anyway

I mean, the sequels were superb and even Gears of War: Judgment had its moments (all, what, two of them), but there was something… special about the original game. Maybe it’s because it was the first game I ever played on Xbox 360, and the first co-op third-person shooter I ever played, like, ever, but even almost ten years later, Gears of War is still extraordinary. This is the game that basically defined its genre at the time, and that gore-clotted crown is unchallenged in 2015.

It’s not that the story is inventive or even clever – you’re basically trudging from one predictable plot point to the next, and killing everything that moves on the way over – but rather that it has so much personality. Somehow, four burly bro-dudes who might’ve otherwise been written from the results of an “over-compensating masculinity” mad lib quiz became four of the most instantly iconic protagonists of the last console generation. Mix in a bunch of idiosyncratic bad guys (and girls) like Theron Guards and Kryll and Berserkers, guns with chainsaws, and a helter-skelter sequence of increasingly absurd, melodramatic set pieces prominently starring explosions, and it all just works.

From left: Grumpy, Crybaby, Sporty, and Sneer.
From left: Grumpy, Crybaby, Sporty Spice, and Sneer.

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition also packs in five extra chapters previously exclusive to the PC version of the game, including one of the most terrifying encounters in the whole series.

2. It’s more than just a new coat of brown paint

In fact, this version of Gears of War has real colours. Rather than just a simple re-texture job, most of the game’s assets and character models have been completely rebuilt, and a sophisticated lighting system plugged in at the back to make everything shine. Even the cut-scenes have been reworked. Yes, it’s still the same grotty ‘n’ gritty game it was in 2006, but it looks like a game made for current-gen platforms, with a very contemporary design aesthetic. Simply enough, it’s the most spectacular grot and grit this side of an actual apocalypse.

3. It’s mostly about the multiplayer, really

And Gears of War: Ultimate Edition delivers in heaps. You know, heaps of body parts. No other multiplayer game deals in such unashamedly unadulterated, gloriously gratuitous violence as Gears of War, and woo, it’s back, baby. With 19 maps bundled in (and more to come?), plus multiple modes from Gears of War sequels like Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill, and an all-new, nothing-but-bits 2v2 Gnasher Execution mode added to the lineup, there’s a whole lot of stuff to keep you busy until Gears of War 4 drops next year. And 60 frames-per-second gameplay? Yes, please.

[GROUP HUG: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition uses dedicated servers. That’s rad. There are no dedicated servers in South Africa. That’s not so rad. While privately hosted games are supported, both online and on a local network, you’ll get much less XP in these. It took me about six hours of jamming multiplayer with some friends to level up, and not because I suck at Gnasher kisses. Okay, also because I suck at Gnasher kisses.]