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 * 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!

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

Sharp cut Digital Flatbed Cutter | Sharpcut Flatbed Cutters

Things I'm Thankful For

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 73: Stay Classy

NVGR: Updated Album "ADBC" (No longer an EP)

Fun2Play: Downwell

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th November - Leighapalooza

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Mission complete![IMG][/IMG]
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Black Friday slowly seems to creep its way onto Continental Europe, but I'm not complaining! I managed to get my grubby little paws on a new physical copy of The Wonderful 101 for €20! Thanks, America!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Since I missed yesterday, I am going to do something a little different today. Are there any questions you would like to ask me for a change? If so, please feel free. I may add a second Community Question later today, as well.
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Isn't PES 2016 Free-to-Play model just the demo with extra crap thrown in?
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Damn Gumo, you cold as fuck. [img][/img]
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
While partially responsible for one of the biggest jokes in the metal, Cold Lake by Celtic Frost, Curt Bryant is doing the soundtrack to the game Slain!. I'm digging the shitty garage band vibe.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
How is the Lightening thread STILL GETTING COMMENTS!?!?!? P.S. I am trying to make Chex Mix, but we lost my special recipe I custom designed. sucks man.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Got a deal on a Surface Pro 3 model that I wanted. Now I just need a deal on a PS TV in Canada and I'm golden.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
If you in the UK, don't have a PS4 and don't mind buying used/display goods there's a few reconditioned PS4 (12 month warranty) on amazon for £199.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
my dilemma this black friday is a PS4 for bloodborne and little else or like half the games on my steam wishlist. I know in my heart which one I'm going to pick.
El Dango avatarEl Dango
"You had all the lasagna you could ever eat, yet you kept going!" "This isn't about the lasagna anymore, Jon, and I didn't come this far just to quit! Tonight, I'm making sure my name will go down in history!"
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Got DeSu2 Break Record from GS' Black Friday sale ($29.99). Love the Arrange CD. It's been far too long since I heard Meguro do something that wasn't tied to Persona. Also grabbed an extra copy of Freedom Wars since they were $5.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Haven't been around a few days. Getting over a cold and working on a review for Superbeat: Xonic on Vita. Starting to feel better, I think / hope.
inspavo avatarinspavo
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
So I'm almost done with my first play through of Undertale and... It's okay. It's in no way bad (and I'm enjoying it more than Fallout 4 which in also playing) but feel... It was overhyped I suppose? Not sure really... Maybe a second play though will help
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Sometimes I wonder why I care. To simply have more vitriol and misery as my reward, to suffer ingrates and fools. That in all I do I'm never afforded the same respect or kindness. Let it be then, and let pain follow. I'm done with this shit.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I was telling this dead baby joke at dinner tonight, and this lady I don't recognize says, "I'm sorry. That joke isn't funny to me, I have two dead children." At this point, I went over my options in my head and settled with telling her the joke twice.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I really wish the slowpokes at Microsoft would add Forza Horizon to Xbox One backwards compatibility.... It's my favorite racing game. And the soundtrack is honestly flawless.
Parismio avatarParismio
Some green tea and Mario Kart w/ family is a great way to end the day.
KingSigy avatarKingSigy
Honestly, Broforce might be my GOTY. It's really fucking amazing.
more quickposts



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 -