Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
“Dude, you never played Gears of War?” my gaming buddy asked me, incredulously.
“Uh…no. I thought that it was only for consoles back then,” I replied a bit defensively.
My friend snorted under his breath. “No—it was for PC too. I can’t believe you didn’t play Gears of War, man. Epic game!”
This is an actual excerpt from a conversation that I had recently, upon learning that Microsoft had surprised everybody by suddenly re-releasing Gears of War for the PC. I had to face it—I’d lost some geek points by not knowing much about one of the biggest gaming releases of 2006, and would have to redeem myself by playing the new remastered edition, titled: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. And after playing it for a while I’m glad that I did.
But let us back up a bit. Back in 2006 my gaming PC time was primarily occupied with the likes of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas and Company of Heroes. COH in particular sopped up quite a substantial amount of hours and I remember that it caused much of my social life to evaporate. Meanwhile, apparently the rest of modern man was going nuts over Gears of War, a shooter that revolutionized the genre. It featured tight cover mechanics instead of run-and-gun, active reloads, fluid campaign-length co-op, curb-stomping, and gratuitous amounts of blood-curdling screams and all around brutal mayhem. Boy, how did I miss out on all of that?
Well, at least I did get to play the updated version, and I’m sort of glad I did since now I could get to experience what all of the Gears of War fanboys (and peripheral fanboys) were practically jumping over backwards about. The story tells the tale of one Marcus Phoenix (the main protagonist) who turned from military hero to military prisoner in the blink of an eye when he abandoned his post while seeking to rescue his egghead father. His father had been researching the Locusts, creatures which had sprang forth from the bowels of the planet of Sera (where the game takes place) and seemed hell-bent on destroying all of mankind.
And don’t you know, just as Marcus’s prison complex is about to be vaporized his old war buddy Dom Santiago swoops in and saves him in a miraculous set of nail-biting scenes. Later, Marcus is allowed to rejoin the military that formerly despised him since they are running a little low on manpower, and he forms an elite unit called Delta Team. They round out this band of badassery with fellow hardcore soldiers Damon Baird and Augustus Cole and the rest of the game centers around who has the best sounding action movie-worthy name. Just kidding…
Actually, the futuristic band of brothers is tasked with seeking out the Locust’s main base way down underground, and planting a massive super-bomb there with the hopes of wiping out the dastardly menaces once and for all. Oh, if only it could be so simple. Luckily, however, Marcus and company are armed with all manner of gib-popping weaponry, such as the epic chainsaw gun and boomshot grenade launcher.
My aforementioned gaming buddy was still feeling sorry for me since I’d never played the original, so he offered to grace me with his magnanimous online presence and introduce me to Gears of War’s co-op mode. He told me that the co-op mode was really how the game was really meant to be played and that it not only functioned as a sort of Training Day-esque experience for newbies to the game, but was also just one of the most complete co-op experiences ever.
He wasn’t kidding. From the buddy-banter between hyper-ballistic bloodbaths to balls-to-the-walls, knockdown, drag out boss battles, epic cut scenes, uber-manly tough-as-nails comradery, and general copious blood-letting, I now see what all of the ranting and raving was about. The combat, complete with the brilliantly implemented cover system, feels ultra-tight and intuitive. When I think back to other games that came out around the same time, only a couple of the Tom Clancy offerings came close in terms of overall gameplay mechanics. However, Gears of War was clearly on another level entirely. The Ultimate Edition also now included an updated multiplayer component complete with tons of maps, both ranked and unranked matches, and a whole slew of fun gaming modes.
The visuals in Gears of War have reportedly undergone a substantial upgrade, but looking at them with a pair of fresh eyes, I can understand why many folks make the argument that Gears stands up nicely against some of the more modern day shooters out there. After comparing older Gears of War videos with the current revamped Ultimate Edition, I can see the difference, which lends credence to their claims.
The overall art style of Gears of War reminds me strongly of Warhammer 40k, with big, bulky armor-clad soldiers with impossibly small heads, which in my opinion is a good thing. Not only are the character models easy on the eyes, but the weapon and their effects were well done as well. The environments were superb, and some of the abandoned, forlorn cityscapes look really dismal (in a beautiful way), and really convey the sense that they’ve been recently decimated. Owners of 4k gaming rigs will really get an eye or two full of graphical goodness.
Overall, I’ll admit that I missed out on a really great game back in 2006 but am glad that since then I’ve gotten with it and have been given the opportunity to finally play it. Gears of War is a phenomenal beast of a gaming experience. From its brilliant writing, outstanding game mechanics, immersive campaign (best played through co-op), and full suite of multiplayer modes, Gears of War is a must-have for any fan of shooters or action games in general. It’s really got me geared up for the forthcoming Gears of War 4 which will hopefully find its way to the PC now that Microsoft has acquired the rights to the Gears of War franchise.
Gears of War’s visuals have been boosted up considerably and require a beastly system to run without suffering from and frame rate loss. Try playing it on a new gaming PC:
CyberPowerPC Gamer Infinity 8800 Pro
Visit CyberpowerPC’s website to check out all of the other great deals as well!