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Gears of War 3 RAAM’s Shadow DLC review

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This is a year of bookends for the Gears of War franchise. Mere months after saying goodbye to Delta Squad (temporarily, at least) in Gears 3, we’re given an opportunity to rewind and experience how this just-concluded war between the humans and Locust of planet Sera actually began in the DLC prequel RAAM’s Shadow.

What were Marcus and Dom doing on Emergence Day? How did Baird and Cole first meet? Well, that’s the one disappointing part of RAAM’s Shadow...

You’re not playing as the characters you already know, love and want to know more about, but as a bunch of “oh yeah, that guy” supporting characters like Minh Kim (the straight-laced original squad leader in Gears 1), Tai Kaliso (the tattooed fortune cookie from Gears 2) and Jace Stratton (the dull new dude from Gears 3). As a result, the story isn’t quite as interesting and the dialogue isn’t nearly as funny as you’ve come to expect from the series. Sample of the former: Saving an orphanage. Sample of the latter: “To think we once dared to build our dreams.” Yawn.

(Watch our RAAM's Shadow video playthrough - the first two chapters)

The action, however, easily makes up for whatever’s lacking in the narrative. RAAM’s Shadow is three hours and five chapters long, but the developers have packed in enough unique, memorable and truly intense moments for a game twice that size. Within seconds of the opening cutscene, you’re on a turret, mowing down armies of Reavers, Boomers and other boss-sized monsters that are normally saved for the ends of missions. Minutes later, you’re on an awesome new version of the Hammer of Dawn, melting enemies with massive microwave rays from a sky-down perspective. A single chapter can include both a loud, epic battle with a volcanic Berserker careening violently through a parking lot, and then a disturbingly quiet horror scene in which Tickers rush towards your feet in a darkened cafeteria, obscured by the rows of lunch tables until it’s almost too late to kill them.

Best and most unforgettable of all are the two missions in which you switch from the COG squad to take control of the Locust hordes, including a ridiculously overpowered General RAAM himself. The gameplay here is almost primal – as gory as Beast Mode in Gears 3 and as godlike as the Brumak near the finish of Gears 2. For five glorious minutes each time, you don’t worry about cover. You don’t worry about ammo or reviving your teammates. See a soldier in the distance? Simply point, and your flock of murderous Kryll demon birds will swarm until he explodes into a chunky red mist. See a soldier right in front of you? Simply run, and watch with smugly superior satisfaction as he’s instantly impaled on your pitchfork-sized blade, then slung unceremoniously to the side of the screen. Pure rampage. Pure fun.

RAAM’s Shadow is short, expensive ($15 at the time of this review, unless you’ve already bought the DLC Season Pass for $30) and doesn’t feature the prequel story one might expect, but with gameplay this visceral and diverse (and four-player co-op ready!), passionate Gears fans won’t mind, and even casual Gears fans will be intrigued.

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31 comments

  • PolarBearsInHeat - December 13, 2011 5:48 p.m.

    By the way you guys, the dlc is pretty darn good. I have not finished the campaign missions yet, but they're hella fun, so if you enjoy gears at all, i'd recommend this
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - December 13, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    Maybe I'll be able to pick it up after the holidays, once things have settled down and the onslaught of spring games haven't come out yet.
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 13, 2011 11:49 a.m.

    0/10 Because you have to pay for shit that was locked out of the disc
  • talleyXIV - December 13, 2011 1:09 p.m.

    I'm pretty sure this is new original content for the game. This wouldn't even fit into the story of the actual game, or tell me where this should have appeared? A flashback? Metroid I am really getting tired of your really dumb trolling. Just because you don't have money doesn't mean this isn't worth getting to other people.
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 13, 2011 3:09 p.m.

    Any game with THIS MUCH DLC is not worth paying a fucking cent for.
  • PolarBearsInHeat - December 13, 2011 5:46 p.m.

    THIS MUCH DLC? Some new maps (which they released for free) and 3 hours of new campaign missions? I see where you're coming from, 2 DLC packs is just way over the top. Wanna go bitch about Mass Effect or Fallout now?
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 13, 2011 9:12 p.m.

    45 dollar weapon skin pack and a 45 dollar season pass is a lot of DLC But you Gears of War is your last exclusive franchise, right? Gotta buy everything they make for it!
  • S135 - December 13, 2011 10:16 p.m.

    $45 season pass? It's $30. If you buy the season pass you're getting $15 off. It's only $45 if you buy the DLC separately. If you're going to troll, at least try.
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 13, 2011 11:08 p.m.

    But all DLC should be free... And paying 30-45 dollars for content that was cut out of the is so stupid I can't even think of some kind of rhetoric for it...
  • babyhenchy1 - December 14, 2011 12:03 a.m.

    While I do agree that DLC is often very overpriced, it shouldn't all be free. DLC costs money to make.
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 14, 2011 1:58 p.m.

    That's a load of bullshit. You're telling me it costs money to reskin weapons?
  • babyhenchy1 - December 14, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    I'm not talking about weapon reskins. I'm talking about new pieces of the campaign, new maps to design, etc.
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 14, 2011 5:01 p.m.

    Should be free because it's the developers fault for releasing a unfinished game.
  • babyhenchy1 - December 14, 2011 5:51 p.m.

    Not if it comes out MONTHS later to expand on the experience.
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 14, 2011 9:36 p.m.

    If a game has DLC, it's unfinished.
  • babyhenchy1 - December 15, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    DLC that's released months later was never on-disc. Therefore, it's entirely possible that it's going into a game that was finished. They're digital expansion packs (though admittedly much more abused).
  • OddWoN ER - December 14, 2011 7:30 p.m.

    You are bitching about literally the most pointless stuff... ok yes a ton of money for reskinning weapons, but doesnt add anything to gameplay. all of the dlc that counts and is worth while is either free or sold a great deal (the season pass). all of what they added is EXTRA. Gears is a finished and whole game. and because so many people like it, the developers release more content for us to enjoy THAT WAS NOT NECESSARY FOR THE GAME TO BE WORTHWHILE. stop bitching... i cant believe i wasted my time responding to you. you just seem to have no common sense
  • MetroidPrimeRib - December 14, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    No, I am not. I'm more mad that retarded console kids will actually buy this and then other developers will think on-disc DLC is a norm and start putting it into EVERY SINGLE FUCKING GAME.
  • Dadyo238 - December 15, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    I can't believe you're still going on with this. MetroidPrimeRib, you are truly amazing.
  • Darkwun - December 15, 2011 3:27 p.m.

    Raam's Shadow doesn't fit in with Gears 3. There's a massive difference between unfinished games (Marvel vs Capcom) and giving people extra content to vastly increase the enjoyment of an already finished game (Mass Effect, Dragon age). Generalising makes you look like an idiot, which-by your posts I assume is what your intention is so I don't even know wy I even feel compelled to respond to a troll post. At least I hope you're a troll and not.. *gsp* sir, you're not an idiot are you? Well why didn't you say so! Hi! I'm the prince of the Ekoj family. you have won the Ugandan lottery but we seem to be having problems transferring funds, if you could just give us your bank account details and maybe the answer to your secret question we can go right ahead and transfer you the monies...

Showing 1-20 of 31 comments

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