The Gears of War: Ultimate Edition beta has ended and it has been an experience. With only multiplayer available to play, I was in game after game of Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill. With a shiny new presentation and new features, is this attempt enough to re-ignite the fan base?
Gears of War has always done a great job at servicing its fans. The original multiplayer brought in fast-paced team tactics and a solid cover system that made firefights more intense. Also, nothing is more heart pounding than a flanking Lancer Chainsaw revving up.
With only two game modes available, I did my best to share time across both types. I did, however, end up really digging into King of the Hill. With specific control points as the main objective, killing the enemy is just as instrumental in your dominance as sitting in a spot. Setting up perimeters in this mode is intense, especially when it's just you and one or two team mates against a whole team. Sometimes, having the desired location, you can force the enemy to walk through hell to try and take what is yours. Of course, teamwork is key just as it is in every game mode, lone warriors usually end up seeing the respawn menu more than combat.
In reality, either mode requires team tactics in order to receive the big experience pay off. In Team Deathmatch, a strong team knows when to apply pressure in order to dictate the momentum of combat through the violence of action. Several times I have been on or against a team who could just not be slowed no matter what is thrown at them. It's moments like these where Gears shines like the gem it is.
Unfortunately, the game also has its issues that have always been there. The over-powered Gnasher shotgun is still the go-to weapon for most encounters. It's a great gun, but devolves the game into nothing but close quarters combat. It turns into something that does not resemble the exciting moments of the single-player game. Long range implements of war still exist with the Sniper Rifle and the Torque Bow, but there are still only one or two instances of long range combat. Don't get me wrong, the Gnasher can be epic, but eventually you get tired of being destroyed by blind fired from around a corner.
My experience in the beta was solid with only a few technical issues. I dropped from a few games, but these issues are expected from a beta. To be honest, I was expecting more issues to appear. If the final product is anywhere near as solid as this beta has been, I look forward to this blast from the past.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is an updated version of the game that made the Xbox 360 a platform of choice for a lot of gamers. With the original story and multiplayer intact and with some enhancements, Gears of War will make any fan excited to see the direction that Microsoft has planned.