Dead Space 3 Review (360)
They say good things come in threes, although I’d like to see conclusive proof. For me, games that normally get branded with the accursed trilogy treatment and the subsequent milking of the cash-cow thereafter always follow the same pattern. First game is mediocre with great ideas, then there’s a fantastic peak and finally a swollen, red, overly-milked tit and watered down cash cow juice. And Dead Space is definitely one of those series, if you ignore Ignition and the animated spin off. Those we will class as cheese made from the already milked batches of game juice.
Dead Space 3 is produced and designed by Visceral Games and has the horrible afterglow of being published by EA. If you need reminded of who EA are, they are the guys you root against when they are fighting the little guy; they are Goliath to our David and the bugbear of our wallets with their season passes. They may even be to blame for the controversial micro-transactions that have managed to worm their way into our bodies, much like the chest bursting behemoths who also go by a similar name ending in “morph”.
Dead Space 3 places us firmly back in the boots of Isaac “I volunteer for fucking everything” Clarke while he complains about being asked to help when the world is ending. He subsequently raises his hand for every menial task thereafter, even when he is piloting a ship that’s on fire he decides it would be best to micromanage between flying and running to the back of the ship as opposed to letting anyone else share the glory. Isaac has now been called to arms by John Carver, the guy you will play if you are player 2 in co-op, and needs to save the world because he is the only person with in depth knowledge of Necromorphs and the Markers.
The story for the single-player campaign is very predictable, but has some moments where there is just that little beacon of hope flashing in the darkness of space that urges you to continue. Whether it is floating through space or piloting a falling ship, there are some fantastic moments that leave in awe. But there is just something about the writing that really failed to grip me. I don’t know whether it failed because of the obvious plot-twist enacted by that guy who practically shouts “I hate you Isaac” every chance he gets, or the extremely poor “secret” ending
The gameplay remains largely unchanged, but there is the omittance of the airlock QTE, which I rather enjoyed from Dead Space 2. Then again there are no airlocks on a bloody planet. For the most part you still shoot the same bad guys and watch out for the generic “oh I’m definitely dead and totally not just lying here” routine. But there is an obvious focus on making the game go at a faster pace with a lot less scares. It could be a by-product of a been-there-and-done-that mentality, but it just seemed like any kind of adrenaline rush came from the fear of being overwhelmed as opposed to the eerie space horror the previous games offered. Most of the time you find yourself surrounded by countless hordes of enemies and you don’t know quite where to start.
Even the areas the enemies they show up in are terribly predictable. A massive open plan room riddled with too many vents? Yeah, better reload all my weapons. The game has also adopted a more obviously objective-based playstyle by offering distinguishable side missions that are sectioned off from the rest of the level, some even denying you access because you are that lonely bastard without any friends to play with. There was also a slight Lost Planet feel to the game when you were presented with massive glowing enemies that seemed slightly out of place. But the good news is that the HUD is still totally immersive and beautiful. I still find it magnificent that they can convey so much without wee onscreen boxes aside from the inventory menu.
A new addition to the Dead Space franchise is the build-a-bear (weapon) workbench, in which you choose your bear and slap a load of guns to it in the hopes of brewing some sort of cuddly and devastating menace to bring about the demise of countless necromorphs. Here, you can explore countless combinations and you will more than likely have a different weapon and preference from the majority of your friends just due to the extent of customization options available…. although after a while everybody I knew came to the conclusions that maybe the super explosive rocket launcher with a blast shield and the secondary weapon of your choosing in the under barrel was most certainly overpowered and too fun to turn down. But before this realisation you can toy with a manners of limb dismembering nonsense such as acidic ripper blades that explode on contact, or a machine gun that shoots stasis laden bullets with a blowtorch sellotaped to the side. As I said, the possibilities are amazing and toying around with each one of them certainly did make the game a lot more fun. But along with this new weapon system comes the new generic ammo idea which in turn means you didn’t ever really find yourself struggling to find ammo. As you can make your own, ammo isn’t a problem and neither is inventory micromanagement.
Dead Space 3 is not a difficult game, but boy howdy is it frustrating. Without surround sound I would never have known if I was about to be perforated by the business end of a bad guys limb in the most uncomfortable of areas. There really is no inventory management due to the generic ammo or the fact that you have enough resources to build a Death Star. There is hope for those scared by all these negatives though, as there are different modes that remove the new stuff and allow you to play a more classic version of Dead Space by taking away the upgrade system and so on, as well as countless levels of difficulty.
But if the game wasn’t far enough removed from the horror genre already you have the wonderful addition of co-op. Now I love coop, but it just feels odd in Dead Space 3. The aforementioned moments of being overwhelmed are now easy to handle as you go back-to-back with your best bud and the whole show becomes rather comical, if not a bit dull. But you do get that exclusive access to the BFF members areas that you aren’t allowed in while playing by yourself, and there are some really nice tweaks and character development for the secondary character. So it is most certainly not all doom and gloom. Just a bit out of place.
EA has finally went a bit barmy with their “everyone loves giving us money” mentality, and Dead Space 3 has been tainted by the very same brush that thought online passes were the next step for gaming. Sure, you can find resources, but people will love paying that bit extra for more, right? WRONG! There is actually no real need to buy them, unless you want to give your wee robot a personality (which you won’t want or need, and if you bought it maybe you should consider having a good long hard look at yourself). By the middle of the game, if you manage your weapons and resources right you won’t need to worry at all about the extra packs of resources or even splashing out for a better robot. I did break the bank and purchase one in the later stages of the game to see how much of a difference it would make: the answer is not much at all. But there are some of you who will still buy it. Just remember, if you send your wee robot pal out into the wild at just the right spot they will earn you some extra resources and credits too. There is even a resource that allows you to buy the resource pack DLCs without spending money, which is a bit counter intuitive if you ask me, but hey-oh at least EA aren’t getting my pennies.
There was some truly memorable moments in Dead Space 3, and it wasn’t a bad game by any means, but maybe the series is just getting a little played-out. The series needs a breath of fresh air, and instead Isaac Clarke has inhaled some kind of bacterial micro-transaction infection. The game has a very strong set of chapters at the end, but I did have to play a good few hours before I started to properly enjoy the game. There are some cool new features, and the addition of co-op (although out of place) can be a great deal of fun, just like the completely over powered weapon system. If you are a big fan of Dead Space you will surely find some great moments but nothing will quite compare to the needle scene in Dead Space 2 or even the Nursery scene. The horror simply isn’t there, and when that’s missing Dead Space feels…. hollow.
7 detached limbs from 10 decapitated NecromorphsDead Space 3 Review (360),