When we look back on old games we remember fondly (or even just vividly), what we remember isn’t a perfect re-creation of the game. Our brains get in the way through a mix of nostalgia and imperfect memories.
So when we look back on a game like Gears of War – or really any game about to get remade – our memory and what we see in previews can often clash. Gears of War hit Xbox 360 nine years ago, and a ton of advancements have been made since then in the hardware and software used to make and play games.
Even so, it’s easy to look at Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and suggest that things haven’t come that far because it’s not the kind of massive change from, say, Super Nintendo to Nintendo 64. Gears of War is a perfect example of this. With the Ultimate Edition, the game’s structure and design have been left intact, so for many of us muscle memory kicks in and we’re playing the same game. Windows, pillars, and fountains are in the same place, the structure is the same. It’s not until we back out and look at where we came from that we can tell how far things have come.
When we look at some known object – a vehicle, a structure, a piece of clothing – we fill in some gaps in our brains, especially in video games, a place where we know everything is artificial. We have ideas of what these things look like, and we substitute some of our mental framework in place of what we really saw when we play back our memories of the game.
The Coalition has provided some comparative screenshots that let us look at the original and remake one to one to show just how far it’s come. What’s easy to see is that even back then, Epic knew what they wanted to do with the look of the game. “Destroyed Beauty” was a term they used over and over again. Sera was a world full of monumental architecture and natural beauty, and they took great care to show what that world looked like torn down, while giving us only a few glimpses of the “before” picture.
As we look at the new game, it’s also worth looking back at Gears of War 2, 3, and Judgment to see how things have changed.