January 8, 2012

Gears of War 3: Raam’s Shadow review

Gears of War 3 had a great campaign, thoroughly varied, yet at some points it felt disjointed and headed due south east into the land were Bulletstorm and Halo 3 meet. Epic games came with a remedy for the campaign blues in the form of Raam’s Shadow, the second piece of DLC to hit the early September release. Raam’s Shadow forgets the imulsion bread locust, the “infection” bologna, Queen Mira’s rage inducing rants (for the most part), and gets back to what made the first two games great; urban destruction and human on locust combat. It may clock in at just two hours, but the two hours I had with Raam’s Shadow almost made me forget that Gears 3 had a campaign, it’s that good.

Raam’s Shadow is a prequel of sorts; it takes place in Ilima city just as the locusts are inking the city and the krill are ravaging the remains. You take control of Zeta squad which consist of Mihn Yong Kim from Gears of War, Tai Kaliso from Gears of War 2, Alicia Valera, and Michael Barrick form the GoW comics. Zeta squad is attempting to clear the city as Raam and his forces come carrying the harbinger of DOOM! The story takes both sides, so for the first time in a Gears campaign you play as a locust, Raam specifically or other locust if you are playing co-op. Raam is just too much fun to play as.

The game plays the same as GoW 3 with little variation, there are a few tweaks here and there but nothing that feels like a sequel. Raam, while being awesome, is also somewhat boring to play as. He has is infamous sword and his “krill finger” which just sounds dirty. The “krill finger” is just a point and instakill weapon which just feels boring. The pacing is much better than in the main campaign. Five acts that clock in a little over two hours on normal; raise the difficulty and it can lengthen your play time.  The environment shows off the power of the Unreal 3 engine with collapsing buildings and bridges, with this beautiful architecture on the brink of chaos and decay. I loved the look of the DLC again more so than 3. GoW 2 was as varied as I would have like the series to have gone. Don’t get me wrong Gears 3 is gorgeous but it just didn’t grab me visually like the last two entries in the series.

Raam’s Shadow, while short, is easily worth the $15 price tag. After seeing what Epic put together in this small DLC, I would not object to a prequel to the Gears trilogy. With Gear’s 2 we were given Dark Corners, which felt like it was left on the cutting room floor. Raam’s Shadow gives us a sneak peak at some back story while finally giving the locust some playtime. There is nothing new in terms of game play other than using the locust but I just can’t get over how much more I liked this short stint over an entire campaign. If you have GoW 3 pickup Raam’s Shadow, it’s short, but very enjoyable; and you don’t have to hear Baird complain.

+ Urban setting is back!

+ Playing as Raam is awesome

+ Very composed and better pacing

+ is a great example that a GoW prequel is needed

+Story is less bonkers than GoW3

+ Everybody loves the E-holes!

– is on the short side

– Raam’s weapons are awesome, yet boring from a game play standpoint

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