Epic games have expanded the Gears universe and fiction to include some new characters and a fresh campaign experience for fans with RAAM’s Shadow DLC. Players will have the ability for the first time to play as the most feared Locust of them all, General RAAM and have full control over the Kryll. The campaign starts with the introduction of Zeta squad, who consists of Michael Barrick, Mihn Young Kim, Tai Kaliso, and Alicia Valera. The setting is based on events after E-day and has Zeta squad tasked with evacuating llima city of civilians, but looming overhead is brewing something dark, a Kryll storm.
Players will be in the city before it was destroyed and will fight against the Locust as they try to help save civilians and evacuate them before the Kryll storm hits. The campaign has some new features that can’t be found anywhere else in Gears 3, such as when the players are first trapped and outnumbered by Locust they are required to use the Hammer of Dawn control center. This top down view monitor of the Hammer of Dawn is the view from space and having control of the lasers and can be controlled by moving the left stick and then pressing the right trigger to activate the laser. Fans of the original Gears will remember E-holes, which are holes that enemies will crawl out of until they are destroyed. The best way to destroy theses E-holes is to toss a grenade into the hole and it will close up and stop more enemies from climbing out of them.
While playing as new COG soldiers is great it isn’t as satisfying as playing as the one and only Locust General RAAM. For the first time ever in the Gears universe fans will have the power of this giant walking destruction machine that surrounds himself with a shield of Kryll. The Kryll are used to protect RAAM which act like a bullet shield, but explosions and fire will disperse the Kryll and leave RAAM vulnerable to damage. RAAM has the ability to direct the Kryll to attack enemies by pressing the left trigger to aim and then then right trigger to direct the Kryll. While the player will never run out of Kryll to use there is a meter that will drain with usage. If using the Kryll is your taste and want to get your hands dirty yourself, RAAM has a special sword that he can use to swipe enemies down or charge them to impale them. If an enemy COG finds themselves injured they should watch out as RAAM will be able to pick them up for a special execution. Playing as General RAAM is one of the most satisfying moments in gaming that I have experienced that just provided a pure feeling of power. While playing the campaign in co-op players will be able to take control of elite maulers who hold special reflective shields that can be used to deflect bullets and kill opponents and RAAM’s right hand an onyx theron who wields a sawed-off shotgun with a blade that can be used for charging. RAAM’s sword and the onyx theron’s sawed-off shotgun will be exclusive to the campaign missions.
The campaign will start players off as the COG first and then switch perspectives to tell the story by switching to General RAAM every other chapter. While moving through the campaign players will discover the evacuation plan of a school and find the younger version of Jace Stratton who is fighting off some wretches. After clearing the school of the wretches Jace will go meet Dr. Wisen who has taken the children to the orphanage. While playing as RAAM players will help the thumper plant spikes so the seeders can help spread ink into the sky for the Kryll storm to develop. I will not spoil the ending, but there is some great moment in the final chapter. There are five chapters available in this campaign and players can find that they will have roughly three hours of gameplay with this DLC.
The achievements attached to the DLC are well thought out and will be easily obtained with a couple of sessions of playing through the campaign. There are achievements for completing the campaign in the standard mode, arcade mode, and one for completing the campaign with four player co-op. For those who enjoy Horde and multiplayer they will also have something to accomplish. To complete the “Zeta team, Go!” achievement it will require five players to each select one of the five characters of Zeta team and complete wave one through ten of Horde on any difficulty. For those who enjoy multiplayer if they fight as one of the members of Zeta team in ten matches they will unlock an achievement. The other multiplayer achievement is the one that requires players to play as General RAAM and kill Minh Young Kim ten times which is entitled “Foreshadowing” for 25 gamersore. So overall the achievements are well done and can be obtained fairly quickly for those who are looking to increase their gamerscore.
I can say that this DLC is one of the best that has come along in a while and the fact that it extends the fiction of the Gears universe is welcome. Just like previous DLC packages the characters are available in the multiplayer portion of the game also and feature an exclusive weapon skin pack called “chocolate”. So there are five new characters for the COG and there are two new characters available for the Locust. So for 1200 Microsoft points, or $15 this DLC is one of the best valuable packages for Gears fans and I can’t recommend this enough and has to be classified as a must buy.