Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Gears of War 3

Preview: Gears of War 3: RAAM's Shadow

9:00 AM on 12.11.2011 // Joseph Leray

There’s a scene in the second chapter of Gears of War 3 in which Cole Train has a flashback to his time as a professional thrashball player before becoming a COG soldier. When I saw it the first time, I noticed that it would've been more effective if the player had ever seen the planet -- say, in Gears 1 -- before it was ravaged by the Locust. Without a frame of reference, it seems a little shallow.

It also reminded me of Pat Tillman, though -- the Arizona Cardinals safety who, after 9/11, joined the Army Rangers and was deployed to Afghanistan where he was ultimately killed by friendly fire. 

Gears 3’s most recent DLC addresses both of those things. If -- and I’m not convinced, but if -- we can read into Cole's past and see that Gears of War contains elements of the 9/11 story, then “RAAM’s Shadow” is about 9/12.

The two-chapter preview build of “Shadow” I played is about watching Sera break down, about the fear and the doubt that creep into a society in the aftermath of large-scale trauma. It’s a prequel campaign that happens “shortly after Emergence Day,” in the shadow of the most devastating event in Gears history.

Giving players a look at the immediate results of E-day overwhelmingly works in the game’s favor, but it’s also the source of a few plotholes: for soldiers that saw their first Locust drone a few hours ago, Michael Barrick and Minh Young Kim have a pretty sophisticated knowledge of Locust tactics and culture.

Still, framing “Shadow” as a prequel reaps generous benefits. For one, dramatic irony is at a premium here: knowing, for example, who lives and who dies in the later games gives “Shadow” a level of gravitas that far outstrips what little of the content's actual narrative I’ve seen so far. Even divorced from the larger story, “Shadow” is ominous in its own way -- each chapter counts down to some other cataclysm called the “Kryllstorm,” and the game's uncertainty slowly morphs into fatalism. 



When we first saw Sera in 2006, it was already scarred, pockmarked, pitted, desolated, and barren. It was Earth-like, but utterly alien. “Shadow” takes us back to a time when the planet’s social institutions still seem in tact, when human enterprise is still recognizable.

Despite its title “RAAM’s Shadow” is (so far) bright and colorful, each Gear's armor is bright, burnished and smooth, and Ilima consists of beautiful sun-stained, Haussmann-esque boulevards and stately, pillared buildings. Gears' visual design has always focused on the juxtaposition of Sera’s soaring architecture and apocalyptic devastation, but "Shadow" is tinged with the knowledge of how the before becomes the after. Gears of War: Detroit.

There’s a great fight near the end of the two-chapter, hour-long preview -- Scorcher-wielding Locust burst into the vault of a bank, setting gold bars and stacks of money on fire, and Zeta squad-member Tai Kaliso mentions that “monetary wealth is fleeting.” What sounds like a mystic bullshit platitude only makes sense if you’re curb-stomping someone: money doesn’t mean very much when the world is ending before your eyes.

The bank scene acts as a harbinger of what we know will happen in Sera -- governments break down, social institutions fall apart, and previously entrenched authorities will eventually fail. Emergence Day changes everything.

In the same way that the death of Osama Bin Laden only makes sense to people who remember what it was like to not live in perpetual wartime, Cole’s flashback is effective now that I can more easily imagine what Ilima’s thrashball stadium might have looked like, now that I've seen a handful of Ilima residents that might have cheered for the Hanover Cougars.

The early portions of “Shadow” teeter on the edge of exploring how devastating -- structurally and psychologically -- events like E-day might be. But it’s all ancillary to the shooting, the active reloading, the stabbing, the cussing. It's just on the outskirts of the Gears experience, seen in the visual design more than the dialog or writing, and just out of reach. 

Dom probably forgets about his dead wife and kids when there’s a sub-human monster bearing down on him with a chainsaw-gun; and we seem to have slipped into a state of casual xenophobia and despair and political idiocy since we’re all too busy trying to find jobs and pay mortgages.

I only played the first two chapters of "Shadow" to write this preview, but I'm tempted to say that -- in a flash -- it illuminates the entire Gears thesis. It might be dumb and loud and brash, but I think Gears of War has always wanted to examine what a degenerative process war can be, though that desire has always been subjugated in favor of the game's mechanics. In that case, not only is "RAAM's Shadow" a natural starting point for the Gears trilogy, it might be the only one.

"RAAM's Shadow" will be available on the Xbox Live Marketplace on December 13 for 1200 Microsoft Points.



Joseph Leray, Former Features Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Joseph Leray is a long-time features contributor, reviewer, and (self-styled) editor-at-large for Destructoid. He lives in Nashville with a menagerie of pets and a Final Fantasy IX obsession. more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Gears of War 3


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Video Gaming Bits -- Rampage: Total Destruction

Roses are black, PS4 lights are blue; This is a game, and it has valkyries too?

Cblogs of 02/10/16 and WONDER-isms

Modern face of survival horror

Discussion Discussion on Games

PStoid Episode 38: Doomed from the Box Art

Cblogs of 2/9/16 - Only Slightly Late Edition

Narrative Mistakes: Mass Effect's Reapers As Primary Villains

Journey to Become a Jedi Knight - Jedi Outcast

Waifu Wars - The End

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
So, SMT IV: Final looks like it'll make fans of the older games happy. Especially fans of SMT 2.
Flegma avatarFlegma
Do games go in cycles like style? I mean, I think I can just as well play my 1993 Space Hulk (PC CD) instead of getting the moderately new Space Hulk instead.
Occams avatarOccams
Naruto 4 installs on my PS4 and it updates. Game says it can't run story mode during installation. Nothing's installing though. Restarted PS4. Reinstalled. Nothing. Fucking dumb.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
This plays in my head every time I tell myself to stay determined.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Tonight, I learned what Flanx and MrNovember sound like in discord, listened to the best idea for a movie ever, and learned a little more about the depths of human depravity. A night well spent. Fuck us all.
Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
So, the artist that they used for Street Fighter 5's story mode(the arcade one) is kinda...not good. Go look up Laura's CGs. Colors are pale, and proportions sometimes end up kinda bonkers. Like, "extreme hourglass figure" level of bonkers.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Justin Timberlake blasts Kuma in the ass and dies.
ooktar avatarooktar
I'm loving these fighting game elitists trying to give me shit because I criticized Street Fighters Fight Money business model.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Thanks to Dtoid I now have this gif in my life, and I can't stop laughing. I seriously can't get over it.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Finished SOMA today , was able to do a second run without enemies with the "Wuss" mod, found it actually more frightening has you get more time to think about what is really going instead of doing hide-and-seek with the AI (Alien Isolation I miss you)
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
I stayed up late last Saturday writing a Dead Space 4 proposal outline. Solved every plot hole, had plenty of badass moments. This is the state I live in, people.
Torchman avatarTorchman
WHY DO THEY GET SOUNDS BUT PIKACHU AND CHARIZARD CAN'T. WTF
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Finished my Storge set and 4/5ths of that was on the clock today o_O I also got a dragonlord eyepatch, which is totally practical covering the right eye when Cyndel's hair covers up the left eye.
Lawman avatarLawman
So Zack Furniss told me I should play Dying Light on Hard. Guess who's never listening to Zack Furniss again? :-/
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Deadpool spoilers: He gets cancer.
beargreasey avatarbeargreasey
So Kanye just announced his new game, Only Once. It looks beautiful and personal. It's just a shame that I still have no idea what it is.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I dunno why people are getting so huffy about Windows Store / XbOne Quantum Break crossbuy. It means double the gamerscore for me, and AW and AW:AN are rereleasing on the One so I'll have owned them 3 times over. Great games.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I once considered pitching an idea for a Dtoid Australia podcast, but then I realised it'd probably just be Zyk and I getting drunk on Foster's and complaining about Atlus for half an hour each week while incessantly calling each other cunts.
Parismio avatarParismio
New Splatfest is Pokemon Red vs Pokemon Blue. Im Blue Team bitches!
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Been sick but these pills are fixing me right up. [img]http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-don-t-call-it-a-comeback-i-ve-been-here-for-years-ll-cool-j-63-60-01.jpg[/img]
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -