Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Gears of War 3: RAAM's Shadow Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: December 14, 2011
  • X360

RAAM's Shadow delivers good Gears action and a novel way to wreak havoc, but it's hampered by uneven pacing and a lackluster narrative.

Anyone who beat the first Gears of War is likely to remember the name RAAM. This lumbering Locust general served as the tough end boss of the game that launched a franchise, and now he's back as the primary antagonist of the first downloadable campaign for Gears of War 3, RAAM's Shadow. You alternate between clearing the way for an evacuation as a new squad of Gears and playing as the titular character himself, wreaking havoc on the human soldiers who oppose you. The action is predictably great, with a few chuckles and some novel thrills, but the uneven pacing and disconnected setting make this feel like a step back for the franchise.

Set before the events of Gears of War, RAAM's Shadow takes place in the city of Ilima. The Locust horde is inking the sky so that its deadly kryll swarms can swoop in and destroy all human life, and the Gears are dispatched to aid in the evacuation. The looming storm swirls ominously, standing in stark contrast to the only partially destroyed cityscape and making a nice backdrop for action. You play as Zeta Squad, a group of four Gears evenly split between familiar faces and newcomers. Minh Young Kim (Gears of War) and Tai Kaliso (Gears of War 2) return with their business-like and quip-happy attitudes, respectively. Joining them is a conscripted Stranded named Michael Barrick, whose gruff and grumbling persona provides some amusement, and Alicia Valera, a soldier whose bland personality adds little to the game. Compared to the rich camaraderie of Delta Squad, Zeta Squad feels flat, and the relatively tame events of RAAM's Shadow feel inconsequential in the long-running arc of all the previous Gears games. These shortcomings alienate the story from the world you have come to know, which makes RAAM's Shadow feel disappointingly disconnected.

Of course, the action is the same great combat you've come to expect from Gears of War. There's a good array of weaponry and some tough encounters that hark back to the heyday of big courtyards and emergence holes. These invigorating moments are a lot of fun, but there are some slow sections that keep things from being as exciting as they could be and sap your momentum. A lengthy walk through an abandoned school is intended to be eerie and end with a tense shoot-out, but the atmosphere never takes hold and the encounter at the end is disappointingly easy.

Fortunately, RAAM's Shadow delivers some solid novelty by letting you play as General RAAM and his burly Locust entourage. RAAM is shrouded in a small kryll swarm that protects him from bullets and obeys his commands, and sending your minions out to shred the Gears that oppose you is gory fun. Getting up close with his nasty knife or wielding the heavy flails of his guards in cooperative play also makes for some satisfyingly squishy moments, but the thrills are short lived. The slowness of the hulking Locust and the relative weakness of your human enemies make these sections feel like unstoppable murder romps rather than actual combat.

Barrick does not abide Serapedes.

Playing cooperatively and upping the difficulty level can make replay somewhat enticing, but it won't take you more than three hours to see all that RAAM's Shadow has to offer. It's good, Gears-y fun with a novel kick, but with the new series standard that was set by Gears of War 3, it's hard not to be let down by the forgettable new characters and uneven pacing. RAAM's Shadow feels a bit pricey at 1200 Microsoft points, but those looking for new opportunities to battle in the Locust War will find their fighting fix here.

The Good
Playing as RAAM provides some gruesome thrills
Series' signature combat is in fine form
The Bad
Locust levels present little challenge or diversity
Human characters aren't very appealing
Slow sections diminish excitement
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Gears of War 3

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

Discussion

30 comments
Megatron2
Megatron2

So do you guys always rate the games you play on the normal or casual difficulty or do you play through on the insane difficulty as well? I find there are very few slow moments when I play this on insane. The action is way more satisfying on insane I believe. You can't just rate a game on cut scenes alone.

Taz_12_Dave
Taz_12_Dave

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Taz_12_Dave
Taz_12_Dave

I found this to be a great game playing experience yet again within the franchise. It's all to do with the individual gamers taste's expectations and preferences at the end of the day. I find that people within the gaming community tend to be too negative and critical at times. It must be a nightmare for the developers of these games. But at the end of the day i suppose we are the one's that are forking out the heavy price tag for these games and i would have given this game add on 8.5.

y3ivan
y3ivan

@Space Marines i believe space marines game came later than gears 2. I played space marine and i felt the game had a bit of lackluster. Warhammer has its own version of armour steroids dude while gears 3 has its own version. Both are original in their own way and plays differently. I dont see the purpose of comparing both. regards to the shotgun fest in gears series, i know alot of gamers are turnout by the shotgun frenzy especially gears 1 and 2. gears 3 is no different, but Epic did some fine tuning to make it playable.

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

@mercuryswitch Dude, I'm being the dick? All I did was express a fair opinion in regards to the DLC and everyone jumped the gun and down voted/insulted me because I'm not a Gears meat head. The only reason I have a bad rep on these Gears posts is because I express my right to post my opinion on something, and no I don't care if you're "offended" over a VIDEO GAME, I made a good point but all people think I'm saying is "Gears SUX!!!one11!!" over and over again. Again I ask, am I really being the dick here? The only reason I acted like a jerk to the last guy was because he did the same to me, so he deserved it. BTW, I never said Gears was bad, I said the multiplayer and community are trash, especially from the first two. Did you even take a second to think that I thought the Campaign and Survival modes are good? And no, the gears 1 multiplayer blew chunks. Why? Like you said, "Rolling shotgun spam", nothing but that, and I started playing it after it came out because it was such a big deal at the time. Also, and I'm not comparing it to Space Marines, but Gears' chainsaw crap, and it's "nothing quite like it attitude" is baloney, is a complete copy and past rip off from Warhammer 40k. I've also played wackier, more fun, more gory, and less repetitive 3rd person shooters than this. The only reason this game is so popular is because it's an Xbox exclusive title, so it gets better marketing and a higher budget.

DJ_Redline
DJ_Redline

I'm a huge Gears fan. Played through all 3 games on the hardest settings, play the multiplayer regularly, purchased the season pass, and definately do NOT feel ripped off by Raam's Shadow. You get new skins for multiplayer, you get a lengthy DLC campaign add-on, and you get some backstory into some of the characters in the Gears universe. Buy the first volume of the Gears of War comic series and you will see the death of Michael Barrick. He's not a random character, he was actually a major part of the comic series. Read the novels too. Karen Traviss was involved in the story for Gears 3 and she wrote the novels based on the game. If you read the books the story just gets that much better!

tazdevil33
tazdevil33

A shame we finally get some dlc for single player in a shooter and it is mediocre at best. i thought you got to play as Raam the whole time. I thought this was the whole point of the DLC. not just some quick level with him to justify the name of the DLC. Frustrating .

mercuryswitch
mercuryswitch

@dxBIGBOSSxb quit acting like a dick. of course there are other third-person shooters out there, but there's nothing wrong with liking Gears. just because it's not the most "original" game (what is these days?) doesn't mean it's bad. oh, and how can you say the Gears 1 multiplayer wasn't any good? you must have come in at the tale-end of it, when it started to become difficult to find a good game and people were just shotgun rushing every which way. of all the games this gen, my fondest memories come from playing the original Gears with my buddies and discovering the chainsaw bayonet and how amazingly satisfying it is to execute someone in such a fashion, and then how infuriating, yet hilarious it is when you get chainsawed yourself. to say that there are other 3rd-person shooters out there is a moot point, because yeah, sure there are, but there really aren't any quite like Gears.

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

@innocent69 Cool story bro, umad? Then why did you just fanboy rage me? Are you seriously contradicting your own argument by saying no one should respond, and just ignore me, even though you JUST now responded with a hate filled rant? Lol, child. Also, adding multiple exclamation points, and question marks doesn't make you sound "cereal". And that "9.5" is from the same reviewing site that gives games like CoD perfect scores for their simplistic, generic as crap shooters, and you think Gears is any different? You honestly believe there is not a single other 3rd person shooter like Gears? If you do, you're just a 12 year old ranting because he has no real friends.

innocent69
innocent69

@dxBIGBOSSxb you play Gears on NORMAL (baby) difficulty ??!!! Gears 3 (a game that scored a 9.5) is a rental, not worth keeping long term ??!!! Everything you say is pointless and everyone on this board is better off just ignoring whatever you say.

Ford_Cruller
Ford_Cruller

Just finished it today and loved it. Took me about three and a half hours playing on hardcore. It was great to get back to good old fashioned e-hole closing.

Rivboes
Rivboes

If you want a rip off play either Black Ops, MW 3 or get one of their map packs.

santinegrete
santinegrete

@Voice_of_Wisdom Unlikely, very. But you can have Alan Wake.

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

@JoshCammell Well you got half right. I'm a pretty big Gears hater... on the first 2. I liked 3, but I would not really buy it. The campaign is tons of fun, especially with friends, and Horde and Beast mode are just flat out amazing. Unfortunately, when the day is done, and you've gotten all the achievements for the Campaign, and played the hell out of Beast and Horde mode, to the point your eyes bleed, all you have left is the multiplayer. Now it may be a step up from the other 2 (Which were complete trash), but I got bored of it in about 3 days. It's a game that was worth borrowing from a friend, but not a game I'd buy, even most of my friends on Xbox live turned it in 2 weeks later. This DLC is solely fueled by the novelty of playing as RAAM (Who isn't even all that cool "Oh look he wears a big coat") even though you could do the same in the Gears 2 multiplayer. After playing the DLC myself from the ONE friend who still had a copy, yes I beat it in two and a half hours on normal. If you don't have the pass, this DLC is a pure scam in my opinion. the others which give new maps, skins, characters, and weapon skins are acceptable for the price. This is not. 2 hours for $15, yeah that's decent for the price (In theory), but what about the 15-20 hours I got off of Old World Blues or the other New Vegas DLC ($10), or the dozens I got from the Resurrection package ($15), or the tons of content I'll get from Back to Karkand (Free-$15), or even the 7 hours I got from The Missing Link ($15)?

mattman127
mattman127

I think it would be dumb if you were playing as RAAM and you.. died. RAAM is supposed to be almost invincible with his Kryll. I could care less about the price, I have the season pass. Only thing I hate is the achievement requiring you to execute Kim 10 times in multiplayer that's ridiculous.

mattman127
mattman127

How is it "too easy" when playing as the locust? You're playing as two unique elite Maulers, a special Theron Guard, and General freakin' RAAM, the player is supposed to over power the COG in every way.

JoshCammell
JoshCammell

The DLC is almost 5 hours long, get your facts straight people. If you're playing on Casual and trying to do a speed-run, you'd be lucky to complete it in one hour. Games like COD sell for $60 for a 5 hour campaign and Epic managed to give out a DLC that's just as long as a COD campaign for only $15. Anyone complaining is just a bunch of whiney b*tches or Gears haters. If you haven't played Gears 1, however, I recommend NOT playing this, because it will just seem like random nonsense.

baystatethrashr
baystatethrashr

It's funny how people will complain about a 2 hour DLC for $15 but people jump all over a 6 hour campaign for $60. I don't get it.

maderrin
maderrin

I love the series almost as much as I hate DLC's. And since I already have a copy of Gears 3 I'm not even aiming at a GOTY edition or anything.

y3ivan
y3ivan

@Soothsayer42 2hrs if you decided to play on easy and skip the cutscene. i played on hardcore took me slightly less than 3hrs, died a few time during the final showdown with RAAM thanks to the kyrll. overall, its pricey for a 2-3hr dlcs. Well its better than a lot of dlcs and especially some rehashed game with 3 maps and slam a $15 pricetag. This dlc is diffidently 1 of the quality dlcs currently. @dxBIGBOSSxb seriously i rather be playing RAAM for 2 hrs than COGs for 3 hrs. RAAM dont shoot COGs he controls kyrlls with several moves (swarm and shield). Pretty much a walking tank. The story of locust faction needs to be told. Overall both are disappointing but playing as RAAM feels unique.

dxBIGBOSSxb
dxBIGBOSSxb

I don't get your guys' appeal to playing as RAAM. You could ALREADY do that in the Gears 2 multiplayer, and guess what you did? That's right, you killed CoGs! The thought of RAAM in a single player just sounds... well, kinda boring. "Yay I'm RAAM shooting stuff... killing humans... clearly this is worth $15... *2 hours later* done! -_- This was so not a complete waste of time and money for barely any content..."

y3ivan
y3ivan

@Drakkengoth lol, I was expecting more from locust fraction. Playing as RAAM or the locust side save the dlc from being a disaster. EPIC, we want a proper locust campaign

Gamescook
Gamescook

The series has ALWAYS had lackluster narrative and unappealing characters.

Drakkengoth
Drakkengoth

Playing as General RAAM was ****ing legendary. Especially the first time you execute a downed gear

Gears of War 3 More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • Xbox 360
    Gears of War 3 is the conclusion to the Gears of War saga.
    9
    Average User RatingOut of 5062 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Gears of War 3
    Developed by:
    Epic Games
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Genres:
    Third-Person, Action, Team-Based, 3D, Shooter
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language