With the Gears of War trilogy coming to an end with Gears of War 3, adding a singleplayer expansion didn’t leave many directions for the story to go. Instead of making a tale that may have occurred alongside the events of Gears of War 3, Epic opted to go all the way back to before the beginning of the first game, hours before the time of the impending Kryll Storm, where the citizens of Sera and the city where the DLC takes place Ilima City, were still trying to get out of dodge.
Focusing on the Zeta Squad this time around, which is made up of newcomers Michael Barrick, and Alicia Valera, as well as the already known and ill-fated soldiers from previous games, Tai Kaliso and Minh Kim, who are on a rescue mission to escort any survivors left over in the city and get them to safety via a rather rushed evacuation. The roughly 3 hour long campaign wastes no time getting you into the action as right off the bat you are knee-deep in a battle with a swarm of locusts that are crawling out of the not-well-liked emergence holes from the first two games and were phased out by the third. You are also quickly introduced to the pre-handheld Hammer of Dawn that is now operated through a stand up console which shows an overhead satellite view to choose your targets.
RAAM’s Shadow is straight up Gears with nothing changed from the full games and while it’s nice to see Kim and Tai back among the living, Tai seems to have dropped more than a few IQ points and is now a proverb spouting buffoon who says things like “hit them with the big rock” when trying to explain to Barrick to drop a building on a Seeder. After the initial confrontation, the Zeta Squad makes their way through streets and buildings, including a bank and a school in their search and come across the pre-COG Jace Stratton. During his rescue, Jace mentions that Dr. Wisen, his father figure, is holed up at an orphanage along with other survivors and thus it becomes your main objective to find and rescue them.
The campaign features many of the enemies that that trilogy featured such as Maulers, Serapedes, Tickers, a Berserker, Wretches, a Brumak, a Corpser, and all the other varieties of bipedal Locusts, as well as a new comer in the form of an Elite Theron Guard who can toss Kryll grenades. The big draw for the DLC however is the ability to play as General RAAM, the big bad from the first game. You will only get the chance to control RAAM a couple of times, but each time it’s a satisfying feeling causing instant death with the point of a finger.
RAAM’s main attack is to send out the Kryll that surround his body in a wave of death to where ever he directs them. Once the Kryll swarm a COG, they will cause immediate death in a pile of blood and goo, leaving you in safety at a distance. How RAAM’s Kryll manage to live in broad daylight was something that irked me throughout the whole time playing with him through. Considering the whole campaign is about the Locust bringing in Seeders to ink the sky into darkness so that the Kryll Storm can commence, RAAM’s Kryll just seem to not give a fuck.
The other attack at your disposal is to charge enemies and run them through with your massive knife, but the distance you can run is not very far at all, and more often than not, you’ll just stick with the Kryll attacks. RAAM is also not much of a chatty guy either, other than hearing the Queen telling you what to do, like break through a barrier, all RAAM verbally contributes is the word “Charge” over and over.
It is interesting that the DLC introduces a couple of new characters to the game series, but overall the campaign does absolutely nothing to contribute anything substantial story wise to the Gears mythos, with no real revelations or even anything all that interesting. The DLC also gets you a few new characters for the multiplayer mode but with new models and a 3-ish hour campaign that has no real bearing on anything, it’s a little pricey at $15. If you have the Season’s Pass, then you have no worries, but for everyone else, it’s a little costly for a whole lot of arena battles and things you have already seen that ultimately amount to nothing compelling and nothing that furthers the Gears Universe.
Title: Gears of War 3: RAAM’s Shadow DLC
Developer: Epic Games
Release Date: December 13th 2011
Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
Game provided for review