Gears of War was one of the reasons to own an Xbox 360 when it first came out in 2006. The game wrote the book on how to do cover mechanics right and since then almost all cover-based shooters stick to the magic Gears formula. Luckily The Coalition has remastered the original game in the form of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and we’re not talking about some quick cash in remastered game with a higher resolution and a few extra lightning effects. We’re talking about a complete overhaul to the point where the game looks like it was made in the last year or so.
So what exactly is new in the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition? Like I said there have been many changes, the most obvious being the visuals. The character models have seen a big pixel count upgrade, they now look like something that would run on the latest Unreal tech. The world also doesn’t seem so washed out and brown, its lit with a new lightning engine and looks much crisper and cleaner that the original Gears, I would even go as far to say slightly beautiful. These changes were all added to the Xbox One version as well but the FPS was locked to 30 FPS in single player and then 60 FPS in multiplayer.
With the PC having more horse power the developers let the single player run at 60FPS and added 4K support. However, it certainly doesn’t run easy so I would say avoid 4k as even on a high-end rig at 1080p you get some stuttering. The ability to use a mouse for aiming is a breath of fresh air – I missed out on Gears of War when it was ported to PC back in 2007. I actually picked up Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox One so certain sections were still very fresh in my mind in terms of difficulty. I struggled on a few sections and actually died multiple times on Xbox One, that all changed on the PC version. Marcus Fenix is a dead eyed sniper on the PC version thanks to the mouse and I was able to fly through those same areas I struggled with and use a lot less ammo because of how precise I could be with my shot placement.
My new found accuracy helped me out when I jumped online for some multiplayer team deathmatch – which is new to the Ultimate Edition. I was able to top the board a few times thanks to the mouse. Also hiding behind cover and waiting for someone to run past you and then chain sawing them in the back of the head might be the cheapest move in Gears history, but it sure brings a smile to my face. Multiplayer for the most part was pretty smooth, there was an update for Windows 10 over the weekend and I struggled a little with matchmaking. Once downloading the patch all was fine again. I highly recommend updating Windows before trying to play online. I actually enjoyed multiplayer more on PC than the Xbox One, I think the PC controls fit Gears better than a controller. When I booted up Diablo 3 on the PS4 for the first time I was worried about the controller because Diablo 3 was built for PC, yet somehow it works better with a controller and I feel the same about Gears when using a mouse and keyboard instead of the the traditional controller setup.
Sadly Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition does have a few cracks in the foundation. AMD users have reported major performance issues but the developers are working on fixes. I am running on Nvidia so my experience was pretty smooth outside of the odd frame drop. I certainly wasn’t getting 60 FPS in single player but I hope a few performance based patches get released soon. The cover system from Gears of War 3 was actually used in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, and although it is much better than the original system I still found myself getting stuck on a few walls and Marcus would take cover instead of run on the odd occasion which lead to a few unnecessary deaths.
Overall though I preferred the PC version of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition to the Xbox One version. I think your enjoyment may greatly depend on your hardware setup, so make sure your rig meets the specs required (listed below as per the official document we received from Microsoft) and that you have updated all Windows and GPU drivers before gearing up with Marcus and the crew. As a massive Gears of War fan I feel this PC port is one of the better ones, and to be honest if Gears of War 4 does get announced for PC I might just wait for that version so that I can wield my trusty mouse and keyboard.