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While the core game play is solid, RAAM's Shadow may leave player feeling short-changed in the experience.
*Solid game play expected from the series *Playing from the locust stand point is an interesting premise * New bosses as well as new ways to dispatch them *new skins for Locusts, COGs and weapons.
* RAAM sections feel linear and simplistic * Zeta team has little time for character development aside from outside sources.* Price maybe a bit steep for some.
Gears of War 3: RAAM's Shadow is the third DLC add on and first campaign add since the release of Gears of War 3 back in September, and while the game play is as good as it has always been the experience may leave players feeling short-changed on the additional features the campaign brings to the franchise.
The DLC focuses on the events after the initial emergence of the Locusts on E-Day, where Zeta Squad consisting of returning characters Tai Kaliso and Minh Young Kim as well as introducing Michael Barrick (from the comics) and DLC exclusive Alicia Valera. Tasked with helping with the evacuation of Ilima City four hours before the city is engulfed within a Kryll-storm, the gears find themselves in the path of the advancing vanguards of the Locust horde with General RAAM and its forefront.
In a series first the DLC allows the players to experience the war from the Locust's side in the role of RAAM himself and his elite body guard for co-op play, however despite the name the DLC focuses more on Zeta then it does on RAAM.
First is the Zeta squad side of the story.
While seeing of the last of the evacuees of their post, Zeta team come under attack from emerging locust forces. After surviving the attack but losing the last group of civilians to locusts, Zeta is ordered by command to search a nearby evacuation post that had lost contact with during the attack. After searching the area for survivors, the team are requested by Jace Stratton to find his friend Gregory Wilson and the children in his care before the Locust or Kryll get to them first.
The player plays as Michael Barrick for Zeta sections of the campaign, and goes through the standard motions that have been the staple for the series thus far. This includes fighting locust from street to street, the destroying of vital locust assets and the exploration of (should be) abandoned buildings. And like the previous three campaigns in the series it handles this well without feeling familiar of repetitive, even including new bosses and new ways of defeating old ones.
The DLC also of course features no Lambent and also the return of emergence holes from Gears 1 and 2 and depending on player skill, more difficult encounters then before as the game do longer has to do things progressively being a post campaign DLC. However the DLC story is a bit simplistic when compared to the other campaigns (and past campaign DLC for the previous games).
However the characters have little time or room for enough development, especially if the player has never played the previous games or read the comics in Michael's case. Most of the chatter is the same as what player have heard from Delta squad, and the development we do hear is little to no impact on the campaign or our interest for the characters.
Next is on to RAAM's side of the story.
After emerging onto the streets of Ilima City, RAAM is instructed by Queen Myrrah to safeguard the Tremor; a Boomer sized locust totting a large hammer capable of summoning seeders from the depths of Sera with a good few whacks. This is so the Kryll-Storm can move forward and overrun the city quickly killing every last man, woman and child within its borders.
RAAM, along with his personal guard (a Theron Elite with a Sawn off with a bayonet attackment and two Mauler elites with bullet deflecting shields) escort the Tremor from their emergence hole through a street littered with defended COG positions and barricades until the Tremor reaches his destination. At this point RAAM must defend the Tremor from an enemy counter-attack until the Seeder is summoned and can begin bloating out the sunlight. This is essentially what player does for the entire two sections of RAAM game play.
While playing as RAAM the player will notice several changes in game play from the standard Locust or Gear most notably the "Kryll-shroud" which acts like a cool-down ability rather then a gun. As RAAM is unable to run, roll or take cover, the Kryll-shroud gives the player immunity to most damage with fire and explosions being the shroud's weakness. Whenever the player takes hits from weapons like Boomshots, Scorchers and Silverback rockets, the Kryll are either killed or driven off from RAAM's person leaving him vulnerable to smaller arms fire. And being that RAAM's other weapon is his trusty serrated blade; this can leave the player in a tight spot especially if among the enemy forces.
The other ability of the shroud is that it allows RAAM to direct it like a Hammer of Dawn to attack distant COG soldiers, however this removes the shroud in order for the Kryll to go and attack. The attack can last up to about 12 seconds, and when depleted or ended early will leave RAAM without his shroud for an addition 3-5 seconds.
When RAAM isn't commanding his Kryll he's busy decapitating and impaling his victims with his serrated blade (the same one he uses to kill Kim back in Gears of war 1). This works similar to the clever weapon but has unlimited use and also sports a charge move likened to the retro-lancer's bayonet charge making it a pretty handy way to move around quicker. A single swing of the blade will knock down all cog soldiers with two to three swings to bring down a silverback. RAAM also sports two executions, the quick tap being the curb-stomp and the held down execution has RAAM pick up his foe by the head and decapitating him whilst muttering something along the lines of "Die Groundwalker".
While it is fun to play as RAAM the experience does feel a bit empty with the lack of weaponry at RAAM's disposal, in fact when encountering RAAM in the Zeta team side of the campaign he is able to throw a grenade that I call a "Kryll-grenade". Upon impact it leaves an area of effect attack like an ink-grenade but instead of toxic gas it attracts Kryll to the area attacking anyone who stands in it. Even if they manage to leave the infected area the Kryll continue their assault usually until the player is knocked down.
It is also disappointing that RAAM is unable to pick up mounted turrets from and bag emplacements and use them single handed like in Gears of War 1, giving it limited ammo would help with balancing issues that may have occurred. In addition I felt that there were too few COG soldiers in RAAM's sections of the campaign, especially when three of the four Locusts are able to deflect/ignore most damage from the front.
The campaign is listed to give up to three hours of gameplay at the cost of 1200 Microsoft points (or $15/£10) or free with the Season pass. The DLC also includes six new character skins (Tai Kaliso, Minh Young Kim, Michael Barrick, Alicia Valera, RAAM and Theron Elite) and the Chocolate weapon skin for versus, horde and beast game modes.
DUKE NUKEM: FOREVER
Fast paced action.nice range of unique guns.
duke's one liners and other pop culture references.
sections of the game when you shrink are fun to play.
plays like a classic shooter rather then a modern shooter.
Long load times.
some have mentioned framrate issues but i didn't come across it.
2007 graphics if you care so much about them.
SCORE - 6.5/10
Surprisingly well balanced ****s and body types.
promotes teamwork without making it a chore.
Decent amount of customizability.
Free-running is great once you've gotten used to it.
All game modes can be done cooperatively.
Story line is sub-par at best.
twitchy AI bots - switches from docile cow to rampaging bull.
Poor party management issues – no in-game lobbies, randomly denying players to join (my level 20 character couldn't join my friends level 16 but he could join me).
Engineer turrets are hit and miss – will randomly ignore enemies.
Sessions go from no lag to game crippling lag (when it rains, it pours).
SCORE - 8/10
if anyone wants to add me my username is karloss01 (like my gamespot one).
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