I say "shortly" because I'm still not entirely sure when this little escapade takes place in terms of the Gears series timeline. The press material I'd read in the lead-up had me thinking that it was set the days following the cataclysmic E-Day. That surely can't be the case, as the COG have already catalogued each of the Locust genus that Zeta encounter. I did a quick search of the developer, Epic Games' forums and found that the events of RAAM's Shadow can be placed roughly nine years after E-Day (which is in turn, five years before the events of the original Gears of War). My apologies for obsessing over the finer points of the plot, but you must understand that it was somewhat exhausting trying to place this in the saga at large. Considering that Kim et al encounter an entire series worth of enemy types (save for the Lambent) in the space of three hours, it almost makes Delta Squad's first outing look like a walk in the park. You'll also have access to pretty much every weapon that's appeared throughout the trilogy in RAAM's Shadow (come to think of it, smoke and ink grenades are the only omissions I can think of). The whole scenario ends up feeling out of place in terms of the series' timeline at large.
Before you die, tell me one thing: what day is it?
Continuity and context issues aside, Zeta Squad is comprised of some fairly generic characters. Solo players will assume control of quintessential tough guy, Michael Barrick. He's probably the most likeable of the crew, even in spite of his foul mouth and tendency to be sent to the principal's office (read: he's such a naughty boy). Minh Young Kim, returns (?) from the original instalment and functions as the suitably-average leader: he often chastises bad boy Barrick and does a good job paraphrasing your current objective. Tai Kaliso - another returning character - waxes lyrical on literally everything, from the rumbling of the ground to a kid dropping a basketball. Then there's Valera: nothing offensive about her, but she doesn't really offer up much personality either. Jace Stratton also makes an appearance and he's (thankfully) somewhat quieter than he is in the Gears of War 3 campaign proper. The titular villain, General RAAM is also back to terrorize the COG. He's not really given much depth, even when you play from his perspective. He - like most other members of the central cast - is large, imposing.... and vacant.
The action takes place across a series of innocous locations within the COG city of Ilima, which is under siege by the Locust Horde. You'll tick all of the generic shooter setting boxes: a parking complex, rooftops, a bank, a construction site and what must be the largest school in videogame history. Ilima High School seems to go on for miles, and the ham-fisted attempt at jump moments you'll witness within its walls will incite many an eye roll. You'll easily spend more than a third of the adventure grinding through this impossibly-vast educational institution. All of the combat situations will feel overly-familiar to any Gears veterans, and you'll rarely be troubled; even on Hardcore difficulty. Even two short stints in RAAM's boots fail to significantly change up the action. If anything, it's limited by the great (in terms of size) general's two trick arsenal. RAAM's Shadow fails to excite, even with an entirely different perspective on Locust War.
Beats being stuck in that school, right?