Marcus Fenix’s default Gears of War face is a permanent scowl

And more on Gears of War Ultimate

Microsoft announced a 60fps, 1080p remake of the first Gears, Gears of War Ultimate, a couple days back. I sat down with Rod Fergusson for a meeting about the remake, which has completely replaced every single art asset, added new lighting, and added some gameplay features from Gears 3 (revive teammates while in cover, weapon toggle while running, enemy spotting in multiplayer).

One story that sticks out, though, has to do with Marcus Fenix’s signature scowl. “We actually modeled facial expressions,” Fergusson said. “No one does this anymore, we don’t even do it anymore.” Because it was, of course, unfinished when Gears debuted, that grim look was etched into Fenix’s default model.

Before Gears became the big bad brolf of Microsoft franchises, it was a bit more scrappy. Fergusson was excited to be able to go back and completely change Gears‘ cinematics. “Back then we were under such time constraints we called them Frankenscenes,” he said. Motion capture was re-used and stitched together. The dialogue in cinematics remains intact, but there are all sorts of new camera angles, zooms. Fergusson and company went back to assess, “what were we trying to convey, what did we successfully or not successfully convey,” in terms of tone.

The five chapters left out of Gears‘ 2006 360 release (they later made it into the 2007 PC release) are also being included in Ultimate. The “casual” difficulty has become the new normal and a truer “casual” setting has been added. There’s still local split-screen on and offline (take notes, Halo 5) with a pillar box look to give both players a view closer to 16:9.

And, as folks might be seeing in the online beta, there are dedicated servers, a spectator mode, LAN support, 19 maps, Team Death Match, King of the Hill, community designed Gnashers 2v2, and 1080p, 60fps online play. Unless you’re playing on PC and want to crank it up to 4K or whatever.

Steven Hansen