They’ve added so much to the Gears of War universe since the first game came out in 2006. They’ve written novels, put out two sequels on the Xbox, and released copious amounts of AMAZING Downloadable Content (DLC). This franchise has never failed to impress me. It does such a great job at grabbing your heart, pumping it hard with all the action-packed gunfights, and then crushing it at the moments you’d least like it to happen. Shoot, even the launch trailers touch me. The Mad World trailer, the Rendezvous trailer, and the Ashes to Ashes trailer still get me every time I watch them. I don’t really know what it is, but I feel like I relate to these characters and their struggles a lot more than I really should be able to. I’ve never fought for my survival against a race of unstoppable subterranean monsters before, but I definitely find myself emotional when I see what happens to these characters as the story progresses. For some reason, I just relate to movie and video game characters placed in utterly hopeless situations. haha
The series is dark and cynical at times, but warm-hearted and hopeful at others. I can honestly say that the 3rd game in the series, Gears of War 3, has made me cry like very few other games have. I will not say anything about why because it’s pretty apparent if you’ve played the game. I swear… Gears of War 3’s storyline could make a hardened criminal cry.
The guys and gals at Epic Games have put out some pretty awesome DLC for the Gears of War games over the years, but there has NEVER been anything as awesome as RAAM’s Shadow. It’s worth the 1200 Microsoft Points that it’s priced at, I promise you. I hope that this is not the last addition to the Gears of War storyline that they put out… Seriously, they could just keep releasing DLC like this, and I’d keep on wanting to play it. EPIC GAMES, BREAK MY HEART OVER AND OVER AGAIN!!! I love it, and I will continue to NEED my heartbreak fix! But yeah, not even the Dark Corners DLC that they released for Gears of War 2 that allowed the player to play through a deleted scene that takes place after Maria’s death as Marcus and Dom in Locust armor compares to RAAM’s Shadow. Not a single one of the map packs released or any of the character skins or weapon skins released for the 3rd game can compare. RAAM’s shadow is STELLAR, and it definitely adds to the Gears of War universe. RAAM’s Shadow gives you fresh faces, and familiar ones. You get to roam around Ilima City before the events of the first Gears of War game. Buildings are still intact, the grass is green, and the Gears know a lot less about the Locust than they do in any of the other games. You’re in control of Zeta-Six’s Michael Barrick, Alicia Valera, Tai Kaliso, and good old Lieutenant Minh Young Kim, and you’re doing what you can to evacuate the civies! ;) The COG has to at least appear as if they care about human life! haha I swear, you just can’t trust the government.
This DLC was awesome. It took a few hours to beat and is challenging even for veteran players. It’s definitely not designed for someone who hasn’t played the game before. I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who have not yet played it, but I will point out a couple things that I really liked:
- RAAM’s Shadow makes Lt. Minh Young Kim look like a total heroic badass. I never really liked him in the first game because I thought that he had no sense of humor and wasn’t really that great of a squad leader, but this game definitely allows me to see him from another perspective. I realized that he holds his duty as a Gear in very high regard. He’s such a firm believer in the rules and regulations of the COG, because it is what has gotten him so far. He definitely didn’t tell any jokes this time around either, but his actions helped me understand him a lot more. I used to think that he was just being mean to Marcus in the first game because he was a jerk, but it turns out that it’s just his sense of duty that makes him seem that way.
- I kind of had a little bit more respect for RAAM as well… Like, he DOES NOT believe in losing. Lt. Kim’s death in Gears of War is strengthened by his and RAAM’s interaction in this DLC! Play it! ;)
- I had to play as 2nd player, so I played as Alicia Valera throughout the DLC. I really liked her. There’s not anyone like her in any of the other games or additional stories that I know of, and maybe that’s not so good for the future of the humans of Sera… She’s a real humanitarian, and probably would have been in the Seran equivalent of the Peace Corps if Emergence Day had never happened.
- I also really liked Michael Barrick. He’s one of the most awesome Gears in my opinion. He’s got an interesting past, he doesn’t really like the COG, and he smokes. It’s pretty rare to see a character that smokes in ANYTHING nowadays.
- Playing as Locust characters during the campaign was pretty awesome, too. You get to play as Elite Locusts (BAMFs) and basically massacre Gears left and right. I was playing on insane mode during these parts, and the Gears still didn’t really seem to stand a chance. My brother was playing as RAAM. I played as a Theron Elite, who carries a Torque Bow, a Gorgon Pistol, Kryll grenades, and a Retro Sawed-Off shotgun. In my opinion, the Retro Sawed-Off was pretty good. I liked stabbing people with it… haha I love stabbing people with the Retro Lancer, so I guess that can explain why. The Gears deployed Silverbacks, Troikas, and all sorts of other crazy stuff and it was NOT ENOUGH to kill RAAM or any of his elite squad. I think that my brother went down ONE TIME during all the fighting. It was kind of funny to see General RAAM on his knees.
- The cutscenes were awesome, you NEED to play this. Like, some messed-up stuff happens in the cutscenes.
- The dialogue in this DLC was freaking AWESOME. The writers did such a great job of explaining what was going on in the game as well as explaining the characters. If you know absolutely nothing about Barrick’s backstory, you’ll learn just the right amount to care about his well-being. Jace Stratton is also in this DLC, and you get to see him before he becomes a Gear. Just wait until you see him… hahaha
- This game also provided a perfect amount of those cheesy lines that all action-packed movies and games have. My favorite line in ALL of the Gears of War series came during this DLC. Valera said, “Why do all lockers rooms have to smell the same?” and then Tai responds, “All I can smell… is LOCUST.” Hahahaha I started cracking up. That line was freaking awesome in my opinion.
- Tai has a lot more lines than he did in Gears of War 2. If you’re a fan of his, you’ll definitely like all the stuff he has to say in this game.
So yeah, I think that Gears of War fans will have fun with this DLC. It is seriously MIND-BLOWING. This is the best DLC I’ve ever played. Seriously, it blows my mind that they pretty much made a whole new game. That’s how I look at RAAM’s Shadow. It feels NEW. It feels awesome, and what I like most about it is that you’d like to play it more than once. It’s not something that you’ll just play though once and then never play again… You’re gonna want to play it with your best Xbox LIVE friends :)
Feel free to comment with any of your impressions of the game so far. And please share this blog post with your friends who play Gears. I’d love to hear what they have to say :) Thanks.