Tag Archive: shadow


Shadow of the Past

He was one of the bigger and uglier Locust that we had seen up to that point. His stoic ruthlessness was evident from the first time we saw him as he laid waste to Gears left and right, protected by an all consuming cloud of Kryll that he could control with a flick of his fingers. Only after a barrage of Torque Bow arrows into his thick hide could we finally claim a small victory in the war for Sera. And even though he never spoke more than some unintelligible grunts, his mere presence and difficulty catapulted him up as one of the better video game villains we ever had to face off against. But so many questions always surrounded the great Locust General RAAM. Until now.

The first campaign based DLC for Gears of War 3 is a prequel that takes us through events all the way back before the very first Gears of War. Shortly after E-Day, Gears everywhere are trying to find survivors who cannot defend themselves and get them to safety. This is where we find Zeta Squad, comprised of some old and new faces alike, as they try to evacuate a city before an approaching Kryllstorm that will consumes all human life, paving the way for the city to become yet another Locust overrun fortification. The Kryllstorm is being led by General RAAM. Opposing him directly in Zeta we have Minh Young Kim from the original Gears, Tai Kaliso from Gears 2, Barrick from the Gears comic books, and the new Alicia Velera rounding out the squad.

What is great about this DLC is that while it is telling the story of some great characters who we only had fleeting moments with in the main trilogy and fleshes out their stories, you’re basically getting an additional Act with 3-4 hours of content that fits perfectly into the Gears mythos and that alone makes this worth it for Gears fans.

But what really makes this DLC special is how it takes Gears 3 attributes and mixes them with Gears 1 moments that make perfect sense. Representing Gears 3, we were given segments to actually play as RAAM and finally feel the true power of the Locust General as we control the Kryll now, giving us the balance we found in Beast Mode vs Horde Mode. Meanwhile, we’re thrown back into Gears 1 situations like plugging emergence holes and ducking and dodging RAAM’s Kryll, giving us that strong sense of nostalgia that makes us appreciate even more how far the franchise has come. There are other little moments that remind us of scenes and scenarios from both ends of the franchise, but I’m not going to spoil any of the surprises that the DLC has in store for players.

Along with this, there are the infamous multiplayer features that are staples of Gears DLC. With the pack comes the chocolate weapons skin option, basically making your weapons a rich, dark brown color and making you almost want to take a bite out of your Lancer Chainsaw Rifle yourself. Not recommended in game, of course, although Epic may want to look into chocolate Lancer licensing for real for next Easter. Those Peeps will never see what’s coming to them. Unless they’re Locust Peeps shaped like tickers…

Anyway, another key component for the DLC’s multiplayer additions will be to actually play as RAAM and the members of Zeta squad in multiplayer versus and Horde modes and allow those fans of Minh to maybe exact revenge on RAAM or simply re-enact that grueling scene from Gears 1 where RAAM shows off his brutal might against Minh.

All in all, if you are a Gears of War fan, this is a great little untold story in the timeline of the series and when you throw in new characters and weapon skins for multiplayer, this is a must have for all fans of the series and is most definitely worth the price tag.

SUMMARY: An entire new act in the Gears’ universe highlighting some old favorite characters is more than worth the price for anyone who is a fan of the series.

  • THE GOOD: Fan favorite characters return to flesh out some more of the Gears’ backstory
  • THE BAD: Being a prequel, you know how the story already has to end
  • THE UGLY: The exploding human bodies after they are swarmed by RAAM’s Kryll

SCORE: 10

Originally Published: August 2, 2011, on EGMNOW.COM

Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Shadow Planet Productions
Platforms: XBLA

Release: 08.03.11

The Good: Old school exploration and backtracking similar to Metroid
The Bad: Constantly referring back to your map and weapon wheel breaks pace of game play
The Ugly: Monstrous, screen-filling shadow creatures bent on your destruction

Cut from the mold of old-school action games like Metroid, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet proves that fun, simple, yet engrossing game play can trump all the special effects and cut scenes of other games most any day of the week. In fact, the story of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet can be summed up thusly: You’re an alien with a spaceship. Your home world has been invaded by a plague like shadow creature. Kill it.

And that’s all you really need as you pilot your way through a maze-like massive world with varying climates and themes and you blast away at parasitic creatures spawned from the master shadow monster. And blast away at these creatures you shall as you’ll earn an assortment of various weapons from standard missiles, blasters, and scanners, to more unique weapons like buzz saws and barrier shields. Of course, each new weapon will only make you want to explore even more as each will not only help you take down certain foes, but also open up new door ways that were once blocked off to you. Rewards ranging from concept art and more of the game’s back-story to armor and blaster power-ups await you if you choose to explore the entire map available.

The only downside that comes from having a large assortment of weapons and a map of where to explore is that you find yourself constantly referring back to the map to see where to go next, or even with four assignable hot keys, needing to go to the weapon wheel to change weapons. This tends to break the pace of game play and will slow down the experience for all the completionists out there.

Despite this minor complaint, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a wonderfully addicting old-school romp that uses simple, tried and tested techniques to pull off a winner. The limited color palette works perfectly for the theme of the game and it helps put your sensory emphasis on the mood-setting music as you blast away in classic underdog style with your tiny ship against an entire world. Throw in an actually compelling 2-4 player co-op/versus mode called “Lantern Run” where you and up to three friends must work together to solve puzzles and escape the encroaching Lantern Monster, all the while competing for the high score, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is another more than worthy entry into Xbox’s Summer of Arcade.

Score: 9.5/10

Originally Published: January 25, 2011, on youtube.com/CGRundertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Shadow Complex from Epic Games for the Xbox Live Arcade.

Originally Published: October 15, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com and NationalLampoon.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I interviewed Mike Pepe of Hudson Entertainment about their new Nintendo Wii platformer coming in January, Lost in Shadow.