/Twerk: Gears of War 3

The following is a large chunk of the RAAM’s Shadow review that I left on the cutting room floor — not because I don’t think the topics aren’t salient, but for the crime of inelegance. It follows a discussion of the ways the DLC fails to expand on RAAM’s character:

And how come he gets to command his own flock of kryll that (conveniently) survive in the daylight while most others can’t?

Other plotholes and nitpicks abound. At one point, Zeta Squad fights two Giant Serapede, giant, creatures that made their debut in Gears of War 3 but are mysteriously absent from the events of the Lightmass Offensive and Operation Hollowstorm (which take place in Gears 1 and 2, respectively).

“RAAM’s Shadow” also introduces Elite Maulers, who come equipped with reflective shields that richocet bullets back at the player. It’s a neat mechanic, but it’s incongruous that the Locust would have cool spaceshields early in the war but not have used them later on.

The iconic COG Lancer — with the chainsaw bayonette — was developed, according to the Gears cannon, to better penerate the Locust’s tough skin when the humans realized that the regular bayonette of the Retro Lancer wasn’t strong enough. Since “Shadow” takes place in the first days of the war, chainsaw Lancers shouldn’t even have been developed yet.

In any case, a laundry list of highly-specific nitpicks isn’t particularly good criticism, but it’s important to note that post-release DLC is generally bought by devoted fans of the series, the types of people who notice internal inconsistencies and anachronisms.

More broadly, the new Mauler mechanics (or the introduction of a bayonetted shotgun) aren’t supported by the Gears story at large which suggests to me a lack of communication between the writing and gameplay teams at Epic. Experimenting with new mechanics in DLC is fine — in fact, it’s one of the strengths of the form — but keeping track of those changes and making sure they fit into the gameworld seem equally important.

My complaints aside, I actually kind of like RAAM’s Shadow, and I like how my coverage of it turned out. You can read a preview here — it’s kind of about 9/11 — and a more traditional review here.

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