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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