RAAM’s Shadow is the first campaign downloadable content (DLC) for Gears of War 3, and it’s probably the best yet. This great addition to the series takes players to shortly after Emergence Day — and slightly before Gears 1 — as the merciless Locust Horde looks to take control of Ilima. The addition of new characters and missions expand the series, allowing players to look back at the events that drive the narrative of Epic’s Xbox 360 staple.
Playing as RAAM – RAAM’s Shadow certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does mix things up slightly when you play as General RAAM, a near-invincible beast that is a hell of a lot of fun to play as. The great thing about this implementation is that, while RAAM is certainly fun to play with thanks to his strength and abilities, the content is balanced enough so as to offer plenty of gameplay variation. Don’t worry: you won’t be blasting through this campaign with little challenge. The game never solely relies on RAAM in order to progress, offering numerous accessible and fun characters, bringing with them the typical cover, shoot and Active Reload gameplay we’ve all come to love from Gears of War.
Nice introduction to Gears universe – Although Gears fanatics will know that RAAM obviously survives this campaign, RAAM’s Shadow does provide plenty of backstory of events leading into the original Gears of War, and even details important characters that appear as far forward in the timeline as Gears of War 3. Sure, the story doesn’t break any new grounds, and there certainly is a sense of predictability, but what Shadow offers is an interesting insight and breakaway from the main Gears universe. It’s great to finally interact and control new characters, even if their objectives and battles remain the same.
Return to classic Gears objectives – RAAM’s Shadow brings the gameplay back to the original Gears days of yesteryear. Gears 3 was no longer about closing Locust entry points, just as the battle was evolving and growing. Going back this far in the timeline brings us back to a point when the war was only just starting out, opening the door for explosive battles with awesome enemies. Moving from cover to cover, being pinned down by hoards of enemies. That’s classic Gears gameplay, and it’s certainly a lot of fun to travel back and return to those sorts of objectives.
Nothing especially fresh – It sure is great to be fighting the same battles from the original Gears if War, especially with new characters, but no new ground is really broken with this add-on. It’s a great look into the series backstory for enthusiasts, but anyone that’s played the other games will know how this is going to end. The gameplay certainly has its awesome moments, and for that alone this is worth a look, but don’t expect anything to stand-out above what any of the original three games offer.
RAAM’s Shadow is a nice little addition to the Gears of War series, offering detailed insight to earlier in the battle. New characters add some variety, but this is still the same-old Gears of War gameplay. If you’re an enthusiast, that’s great, but if you’re looking for something new you probably won’t find it here. That said, more action is always welcome, and it’s great to return to the Gears world just as the trilogy comes to a close.