X360A Review: Gears of War 3 RAAM's Shadow
Written Tuesday, December 13, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
As far as Gears of War villains go, General RAAM will always stand out as one of the best. Not just because of his frankly rather tricky end boss fight sequence at the end of the original outing, but because the beast is one hell of a tank and he provided us with our first real shock moment in the Gears of War franchise. Gears of War 3’s RAAM’s Shadow DLC brings back the behemoth for another spin, but this time, you get to step into his shoes for a short while… they’re pretty big shoes too!
RAAM’s Shadow has players for the most part stepping into the space marine boots of the Zeta squad after the events that transpired during the infamous Emergence Day in Ilima City in the original. Their goal: search for life, escort any remaining citizens to safety, clean up any Locust scum that might cross their path, then get the hell out of dodge. It’s not all about the COG though and while the RAAM sections are very fleeting compared to the COG sections, they do break up the game rather nicely. They’re particularly easy sequences in terms of difficulty though, but it’s that sense of power that you get from directing the Kryll to turn wave after wave of COG soldiers into a fine red mist that will have players lapping it up like there’s no tomorrow.
In terms of set-pieces and delivery, it’s a solid romp from start to finish with only the odd standout moment along the way, but it’s a well delivered – albeit rather shallow – story that will keep you entertained. Balance-wise though, it must be said that it’s a tad too easy – even on hardcore – to rip through each chapter without really breaking a sweat thanks to the AI of your squadmates and the much more enclosed environments compared to Gears 3. In fact, fans of the whole Gears of War 1 campaign will be in for a treat, as it offers what can only be described as classic old-skool Gears play, but with a few tips learnt from their time with the franchise mixed in for good measure. That means: bigger environments compared to the original, the reintroduction of Emergence Holes, no bloody annoying Lambent to taint the experience and the use of a few new weapons and mechanics from Gears 3 to round off things.
It’s a piece of DLC that will have Gears of War fans pointing at the screen with delight as it not only reintroduces a few fan favourites *cough* Tai *cough* into the fray, but gives others the chance to take more of a front seat without Dom and Marcus in the limelight. It’s as if Epic has tried to take a different approach with the DLC as well, as there’s a lot more time spent building tension, especially in places like the abandoned school, which with a game as beautiful and tragically haunting as Gears is, is nothing but a good thing.
In terms of the achievements… well, yeah, they seem more like a chore than anything else and aren’t exactly inspiring. 3 of the 10 new achievements reward players for completing the campaign itself – in 4-player co-op, Arcade mode and the standard campaign mode – while another 3 of them are for various rather mundane tasks in the multiplayer. 3 more are for by-the-numbers kill achievements in the campaign and the only one that seems rather unique – the loader one – is a pain in the ass simply because there aren’t that many people you can kill with it. They’re all easily doable, but chances are you won’t have any fun when you try and grind a few of them out.
At 3 hours long, RAAM’s Shadow is a great little foray back into the Gears of War universe, telling a story that will have franchise fans lapping up every minute. It’s not exactly enthralling stuff and the COG’s story, although well-delivered, doesn’t really have much depth – look for people then get out of there – but it is an entertaining ride. Of course, for multiplayer gamers there’s also six new multiplayer skins and a “Chocolate” weapon skin set, but they’re hardly going to clinch it for you. For 1200 Microsoft Points, it might not scream value for money, but as part of the Season Pass, RAAM’s Shadow is another reason why you should really invest in it sooner rather than later. Enjoyable, rather fleeting but definitely worth a shot.