The Horde Command Pack, the first DLC content to release for Gears of War 3 was flat out, not worth the money. It's content that should have been included in the game. In fact, it was made up of content included in the game but was intentionally locked to charge players for it aftewards for use in one mode, while the maps it offered were given out to everyone for free in the other mode.
That was a bad way to start the Gears of War 3 season's pass offerings but we're happy to say that the second set of DLC totally makes up for it. Titled 'Raam's Shadow,' the second Gears of War 3 downloadable content is for starts, downloadable, and second, actually adds to the campaign.
Gears of War 3's main campaign is divided into five acts. Raam's Shadow is an entirely new act, set before the events of the trilogy, on the day after Emergence Day. Instead of the characters of Delta Squad we know and love from the game series, players take command of Zeta squad, a unit comprised of familiar characters from the series and books. Player one controls Michael Barrick (the bald, bearded character featured on the season's pass cover art), with Minh Young Kim (Gears of War), Tai Kaliso (Gears of War 2), and new Alicia Valera rounding out the squad.
While the characters are cool in their own right, especially for fans of the franchise, they have no backstory offered in the 2-3 hour campaign they're given, and quite a bit less personality compared to Baird and Cole.
The story of Raam's Shadow is simple. The Locusts are invading and attempting to ink out the sky so the Kryll can begin annihilating the human population of Sera. Zeta squad is helping the evacuation of Ilima City and players witness what the cities of Sera looked like before the war took its toll. Players even get to see the origins of Jace Stratton, further tying the DLC into continuity.
Raam, the primary antagonist of Gears of War 1 not only returns as the villain of these added chapters, but for the first time in the franchise, players actually have the opportunity to play as the Locust (including Raam himself) in the campaign. While the majority of gameplay puts players in the shoes of Zeta squad - with 4-player co-op support - missions do switch back and forth between controlling Zeta and controlling Raam's group as they clear out the city streets of COG forces, taking orders on the fly from Queen Myrrah as they setup ink emplacements to darken the skies.
Playing as the Locusts was a neat twist on traditional gameplay, especially since Raam has the unique ability to fire Kryll from his hand at multiple enemies and tear them apart instantly, these missions are repetitive and not too exciting. Players playing co-op in these missions will have 2 of the additional players jump into the heavy shoes of Maulers and the other gets to command a Theron Elite who wields a unique weapon: a sawed-off shotgun with forward-mounted blades. If shotguns weren't already dangerous enough, players can now charge enemies with this unit and impale them.
This weapon is exclusive to the Raam's Shadow DLC campaign and will not be a part of the multiplayer component for obvious balancing concerns.
Since Raam's Shadow is campaign-focused, it does not feature any new multiplayer maps. Since a few were just released over the American Thanksgiving weekend for free, it's not needed. Instead, the DLC also includes six multiplayer character skins and one new chocolate-themed weapon skin just in time for the holidays. There are also 250 achievements points to earn.
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For $10 on its own, any player who enjoys the campaigns of the Gears of War series and playing through them alone or co-operative should make this purchase. The DLC finally brings some needed value for those who purchased the DLC season's pass and we hope more stories are told through additional campaign acts in future DLC.
The story wasn't special, but the set pieces and action bits were good. We did experience a few glitches in our playthrough from Jack (the robot) not opening a door, of objects getting stuck in doors, and a few cases of enemy AI dropping, causing enemies to walk around you without attacking, but these weren't common and for the most part, this feels like any other part of the campaign.
Gears of War 3‘s ‘RAAM’s Shadow’ DLC will be available on December 13th for 1,200 Microsoft Points, and will be automatically downloaded for those who purchased the Season Pass.
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