Gears of War 3: RAAM’s Shadow DLC Review
It’s also the early days of the war, so RAAM’s Shadow feels a great deal more like Gears 1 than it does Gears 3 — Locust come shambling out of those emergence holes that break in the ground around you, requiring quick action and a sure throw of a grenade to limit just how many enemies will stream out at you. Gears 2 and 3 weapons and enemies are mixed in a bit, but more than anything, this feels like a throwback to the series’ origins, which is all for the better. With enemies emerging all around you in many scenarios, there’s a lot more emphasis on getting down, taking strategically important positions, and relying on your team. It’s a reminder of all those first great Gears experiences from so long ago.
And back to playing as RAAM. While there’s not a ton of time spent with the unstoppable general, the scenarios you do get to play out as him are a good time, even if they’re relatively thin on story. RAAM’s mission is to plow through Ilima City, making room for “seeders,” the Locust anti-air monsters that also disrupt communications and spread sky ink. You go with a small contingent of elite Locust troops, and mostly your job is to tear through human gears as if they were paper. To do that, you have two great weapons — a Retro Lancer-style sword (the one RAAM used to kill Kim in Gears 1) that you can slash or impale people with, and a cloud of angry Kryll you use as a shield.
Playing as RAAM is a power fantasy Gears hasn’t yet reached. You’re impervious to bullets with your Kryll shield, but when you want to really turn on the awesome, you can send that flock of monsters out to tear apart enemies. They don’t last forever, eventually returning to RAAM to recharge, but while they’re out there you can control their flight path and have them leap from soldier to soldier, turning them into paste for your amusement. Nothing yet handed out to Gears players is so powerful or quite so fun to use.
RAAM’s Shadow puts together a satisfying addition to the Gears single-player and cooperative experience by bringing us all the way back to before the beginning. In a lot of ways, the plot and set pieces are more satisfying than those seen in Gears 3 proper. It gets better when you bring some friends to the party with you, it ends with a pretty decent boss fight, and it offers a chance to play as the bad guys for a bit, even if those moments amount to little more than just a chance to kill some guys. It’s a successful recombination of old and new to create a pretty good reason to revisit playing Gears of War 3 in a mode other than competitive multiplayer or the Horde modes.
- Playing as RAAM is highly satisfying and extremely violent
- Successfully recaptures the atmosphere of the original Gears of War
- Marrying Gears 1 elements with Gears 2 and 3 feels great
- Despite new characters, they’re actually pretty compelling
- Well paced, with some decent set pieces, settings and good battles throughout
- Cool to see a Gears of War city as it’s being destroyed
- Fairly sizable, with five full chapters
- No new story insights, really
- Doesn’t add a lot — just reuses older elements we haven’t seen in a while
- Playing as RAAM is fun but doesn’t really amount to anything, since he’s pretty much indestructible
Final Score: 80/100
Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.
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