Dead Space 3
Dead Space 3 is the next in the (evidently) popular franchise by Visceral Games. I say evidently because up until about two weeks ago I had never really given the survival horror series much of a though. That all changed with the demo for Dead Space 3. I immediately went and played Dead Space two and realized I was completely ignoring a fantastic game. The added bonus is, I didn’t have to wait two years between games. Although, the caution is, can Visceral Games manage to keep my attention and my investment in the series so close back to back? It’s a double edged sword.
Control wise, Dead Space 3 plays almost exactly like Dead Space 2. All the familiar buttons are there, reload, stasis, telekinesis, etc. are all mapped out the same. The one added feature is the ability to roll, which when the hordes start charging you is a very nice feature to give you that extra second to reload and regroup. The beauty in the control scheme is in the simplicity. Both Dead Space veterans and those just coming into the series will feel right at home.
The game centers on the protagonist Isaac Clark who has long had the ability to make and destroy the Markers that create the necromorph source. Dead Space 3 does an admirable job of explaining the lore and progressing the story. As I said before, I have never played the original Dead Space, so I may not be one hundred percent up to speed on the story, but I never felt like I was missing anything. I’m not sure I could have said that if I hadn’t played Dead Space 2 though.
Some are some new additions to the series that I particularly enjoyed. Dead Space was fundamentally a horror game about surviving via any means necessary by yourself. For this installment Visceral Games took the approach of adding optional Co-op play. For die-hard fans of the series this was met with some consternation and angst. Yet, after playing through the entire game in the single player, and then a second time in co-op I can honestly they there is an incentive to play the co-op. It’s designed well, and even has a couple caveats for those who venture into the mode. There are a couple side missions that are only accessible with a co-op partner that offer up an assortment of loot. However, the gem of the co-op experience is for those who play as Carver. Without spoiling anything, during a couple of the side missions Carver sees things that Clark (the host of the co-op session) doesn’t see. It’s really well done and adds a degree of depth that I wasn’t expecting to find.
The other thing that I found myself spending much more time with was the weapon crafting. Throughout the game you continually find resources that can be used to make med packs, ammo, stasis packs, as well as an assortment of weapons. This is another addition that was met with scorn and trepidation from gamers, due to the fact if you don’t want to spend the time searching out those parts and resources the option of micro transactions is there to simply purchase the resources. Quite frankly though, if you spend even a small amount of time looking for resources, utilizing the scavenger bots (I named my bot Johnny-5 by the way) there are plenty of resources to be found.
The actual story of Dead Space 3 is a little flat when all is said and done. At its core, the story should be about survival, tension, uncertainty. Those are what have made the first two games that extra notch better than others. Yet, the story in this iteration boils down to nothing more than a damsel in distress and trying to “save” her. The problem with that is that was pretty much the story behind Dead Space 2. There are several moments during the campaign where you meet up with Ellie only to be separated again, rinse and repeat. After a while you just feel there has to be a plot twist.
One of the things I enjoyed about Dead Space 2 was the tension and atmosphere always anticipating a necromorph attack and the subsequent sigh when it didn’t happen. Yet in Dead Space 3 it seems that enemies are constantly being thrown at you. The suspense of an impending attack is replaced by, simply knowing it’s going to happen. I wish they could have captured that same feeling. Dead Space 3 is a much more action orientated; some gamers will appreciate that while others may be slightly disappointed by the direction the series has taken.
After playing the previous game, which was entirely on a space station I wasn’t sure what to expect graphically. There are really three separate sections of the game. First an outer space section, then the snow planet Tau Volantis, and a distinguished third which I won’t spoil for you. Visually, there were a couple moments where I was legitimately impressed. The screen capture below is one of those times. Dead Space is and always will be a dark, gritty game. Let’s face it, dark corridors and dim lighting are a staple of the genre. Yet, moments of a wide sweeping vista are a pleasant surprise.
No horror game is complete without tension building sounds, frantic violin scores, and a change in tempo. Dead Space doesn’t disappoint in any area of sound. Like any good suspense movie, this game makes sure that every sound and tune serves a purpose. Yet, the one thing I felt was missing was the moments of gentle relaxing music, either after a large battle, a touching cinematic, or to create a false sense of safety. I would have liked to seen a little something different rather than toeing the status quo.
- Some genuine visual prowess
- Co-op mode is integrated very well
- Weapon crafting is a nice addition
- You can only carry two weapons at a time
- Ammo is all inclusive, ruining some of the suspense at finding the right types
As I said at the start, I played the demo for this game and quickly fell in love with it. A good demo can add to a fan base, and I am proof of that. There are a few things I would have liked to have seen a little different, but at the end of a day I judge a game on the enjoyment I got out of it. Just based on that, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The co-op added an extra level of playability, and you are never short of action. Long-time fans of the serious may have more gripes with it than I do, but new fans to the series could enjoy this a great deal. Based on my humble opinion it’s worth at least one play through, and heck, if you’re not sure there’s always that demo to try.
Written by Andy Gray