DLC Done Right: Gears of War 3: RAAM’s Shadow
Is ‘extra’ DLC content always a rort?
by David Hilton
© 2012 David Hilton
Downloadable content has had its fair share of criticism. Most of that negativity is justified.
From pathetic ‘horse armour’ skins to on-disc content that is withheld until unlocked by payment, DLC is often used to extract more money out of gamers.
After all, prices are set and there is no competition. Unlike hard copies of games you are stuck paying whatever the price point is; there is no shopping around. Game of the Year editions are the only way out, which is why they are still popular, even for those who have already bought the game before.
Simply trade in your old copy and wait for a good price on the new edition.
It is also easy to get cynical about paying for a few extra multiplayer levels that look the same and play the same with a few extra weapons.
When new DLC is announced for a game, for the most part I ignore it.
However, if there is one DLC product that might catch my attention it is additional single player or co-op story missions- but only if they offer something that feels new.
Gears of War 3: RAAM’s Shadow does that. I may be late to the party, but I’m glad I found it.
Shadow of the damned DLC?
Cynical gamers will point out that the new Zeta Squad characters introduced in RAAM’s Shadow are generic and boring. That the missions are primarily stop and pop shooting in typical Gears of War style. That RAAM’s missions are too few and not that diverse. That the DLC story feels disjointed.
That may be true, but this is not a review.
My argument is over the worth of DLC that offers a new storyline (particularly a prequel one), with new characters, the ability to play as the enemy, and newish environments to play in.
RAMM’s Shadow feels like a separate game. Yes a Gears of War 3.1 perhaps, with nothing terribly new, but a way of continuing the fun with enough different about it that it feels worth it.
Other missions haven’t. Even the extra missions of Assassin’s Creed II didn’t feel like short but separate worthy stand alone games. They felt exactly like what they were: extra bits of content to add to the ACII experience.
RAAM’s Shadow feels like a separate game in the Gears of War universe. And I really like that, despite its flaws.
After all, the characters of the main game never really drew me in anyway, I’m used to disjointed adventures thanks to Call of Duty, and I’m not looking for something revolutionary new in a DLC package.
The content is a prequel story taking place during the evacuation of Llima. On the one hand you are Zeta Squad trying to find and save evacuees with the shadow of the kryll swarm literally hanging over the city.
There has been a bit of effort here, but expectations of a huge new experience are simply unrealistic.
Gears of War: Judgment will be judged (excuse the pun) if it is or isn’t an evolution in the series, as a full new game should.
DLC: What should it be?
There should be a new perspective on the universe, as there is with playing as RAAM and the Zeta Squad.
There should be new environments to visit.
There should be a decent length to it, that causes you to almost feel like you’ve just gone down to the store and ended up with a new title.
If it isn’t going to be a feature on the disc, it should offer something truly separate worth buying.
Price is right?
Because there is only one source, and the price is set, the gamer has to determine if it is worth it. And that isn’t easy.
Short of waiting for reviews (which are subjective and reviewers often get the code free), how do we know if the price point fits the experience we are going to have?
I fully expected RAAM’s Shadow to be a few extended missions and more of the same with no real ‘fun’ factor, beyond the fact it was Gears of War.
I was pleasantly surprised because I had low expectations and the DLC actually felt like a new adventure, despite being in the same universe.
This is where I believe DLC is beneficial: a way for the developers who love their universe to provide a game experience or story that doesn’t fit into the parameters of the game proper.
The gamer can play a side-story or go to a different place hinted at in the game and feel that they are almost in a new game.
RAAM’s Shadow did that for me.
I was expecting a tacked on money-grabbing lip service to the fanbase, but found a genuine game extension that made me feel like I had bought a short new Gears game. I congratulate the Epic studio on that.
What do you think about DCL? What makes DLC worth it for you?
I usually only buy full DLC games like Journey or HD remakes like Resident Evil 4. I tend to steer away from ‘extra’ DLC. What about you?
© 2012 David Hilton
Filed under: 3rd Party Games, Blogbanter, Console gaming, Downloadable Game reviews, Editorial, Game Impressions, Game Industry News, GameBanter, Gamer's Debate, Oxcgn Special feature, XBLA News-Reviews, Xbox 360, Xbox 360 3rd Party Games, Xbox 360 Game Previews, Xbox 360 News, Xbox 3rd party exclusives Tagged: | Cliff Bleszinski, DLC, Downloadable content, Epic Games, GEars Of War, Gears of War 3, Gears of War 3: RAAM's Shadow, RAAM's Shadow