In the shoes of a lo­cust

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Raam’s Shadow (down­load­able sin­gle player con­tent for For: Xbox 360 From: Epic Games Cost: 1200 points (or free if you bought a sea­son pass)

The last time Epic did sin­gle player down­load­able con­tent (DLC) for Gears of War it was con­tent re­jected from a game and then added as ‘‘new’’ con­tent. But Raam’s Shadow is dif­fer­ent: it’s cus­tom made for GOW3, stars per­haps one of the se­ries’ most recog­nis­able vil­lains and adds to the back­story. This is the sort of down­load­able con­tent that I’m pre­pared to pay for.

De­signed as a pre­quel to the Gears tril­ogy, Raam’s Shadow takes place in the hours fol­low­ing Emer­gence Day, when the lo­cust first re­vealed them­selves to the Seran pop­u­la­tion. Play­ers take the role of Michael Bar­rick, a bald­ing mem­ber of Zeta squad. There’s no Mar­cus Fenix, Do­minic San­ti­ago or Au­gus­tus Cole in this con­tent.

This is the first time Bar­rick has ap­peared in a Gears game, but he will be well known to fans of the comic book se­ries. Join­ing him is Lt Minh Young Kim, who had a fa­tal run-in with Gen­eral Raam in the first Gears game, and Tai Kal­iso, who met his fate in Gears 2.

Raam’s Shadow also fea­tures one char­ac­ter who is in­tro­duced about the mid-point and who gets to play a much larger role in later Gears games – but I won’t spoil that for you – and the over­ar­ch­ing story in this DLC is that Zeta squad has to evac­u­ate sur­vivors from Ilima be­fore a kryll storm en­gulfs the city.

Gears fans will re­mem­ber kryll are vi­cious bat-like crea­tures that had a great sec­tion in the orig­i­nal Gears of War, where you had to use light to avoid them.

The DLC takes about three hours to com­plete and spans about five hours in the story. Fans of the Gears games will feel right at home with the game play, but Raam’s Shad­ows brings a cou­ple of new el­e­ments to the ta­ble.

One el­e­ment is you get to use the dev­as­tat­ing weapon, the Ham­mer of Dawn, but from a top-down per­spec­tive – blast­ing lo­custs forces, and se­condly, you get to con­trol Gen­eral Raam as he forces his way through Ilima city against COG forces.

Raam is a for­mi­da­ble com­bat­ant and he’s sur­rounded by a shield made of kryll, which not only pro­tect him from arms fire from COG soldiers, but can also be used to un­leash an at­tack on foes, en­gulf­ing them in a black cloud and ex­plod­ing them in a puff of red mist.

Raam also has a fairly dev­as­tat­ing knife at­tack on downed COG. He moves slowly on foot and never takes cover – he doesn’t need cover – but it’s a nice touch play­ing from the per­spec­tive of a lo­cust com­man­der.

Raam’s Shadow doesn’t bring any­thing rev­o­lu­tion­ary to the Gears se­ries, but it adds much needed back­story to the se­ries.

I also liked some of the lit­tle touches like Zeta squad set­ting off metal detectors in the Ilima Sav­ings and Trust bank as they searched for sur­vivors.

Mul­ti­player fans will also be pleased to know that the DLC brings six new mul­ti­player char­ac­ters and a new weapons skin pack.

Fans will do them­selves a favour by down­load­ing this con­tent.

Raam’s Shadow, for Gears of War 3: Evac­u­ate sur­vivors from Ilima be­fore a kryll storm en­gulfs the city. Down­load­able con­tent worth pay­ing for.

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