Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC.
Reviewed by: Brady Ruiters
Shortly before Dead Space 2 was released, I picked up a copy of the first game and found that I could only play it for maybe a few hours at a time before chickening out and playing something else. However, I did manage to finish the game and immediately pre-ordered the sequel. I found it to be more action-oriented but still pretty scary. I enjoyed the series and decided it would be my favourite in terms of a survival horror game. When the third game in the series was announced, I was really excited to take the fight to more Necromorphs, the reanimated corpses created by an alien artefact known as the Marker. Has Visceral Games created a worthy sequel? Let’s find out.
The story picks up about 2 months after the incidents in Dead Space 2. The unluckiest engineer in the world, Isaac Clarke seems to be living in seclusion on a lunar colony. In the two months that have passed, it also seems that Clarke and the female protagonist from Dead Space 2, Ellie Langford have become romantically involved and separated. However, it isn’t long before Isaac is reluctantly brought out of hiding by Captain Robert Norton and Sergeant John Carver in order to help them find Ellie and her team.
After finding Langford, Isaac’s help is needed once again in order to end the threat of the Markers and the Necromorphs once and for all. This time, the mission takes place on a frozen planet called Tau Volantis, which just so happens to be the Marker homeworld.
That’s as far as I’ll go story wise for fear of giving away spoilers. To me, the story in Dead Space 3 sometimes just lacked “oomph” if you will. I felt that while it contributed quite a bit to the Dead Space Universe, this entry also felt a little dragged out at times, especially when it came to Isaac and Ellie. That’s not to say that the story is terrible as I found myself quite intrigued by the history surrounding the Marker and the Necromorphs. I also felt that Isaac took a bit of a backseat ride this time around, most likely due to the fact that he is constantly given orders by people who need his help. It’s disappointing to see, since Isaac became a certified badass after the events of the first 2 games.
Gameplay remains largely the same. Dead Space functions as a Third-Person Shooter in which players have to dismember Necropmorphs in order to kill them; that’s right, headshots are not your best friend in this game. Clarke also has the ability to use kinesis in order to pick up objects at a distance or hurl sharp objects at enemies. The stasis ability also makes a return so that Isaac can slow down either enemies or dangerous obstacles. Combat is still really fun as effectively removing the limbs from Necromorphs feels as satisfying as landing a headshot. It’s like performing high speed surgery without the patient receiving any form of anaesthetic. Like the previous games in the series, Dead Space 3 nails it in the combat department. A new feature in the game is the ability to do a combat roll, which is fitting when considering how many hairy situations in which Isaac finds himself.
Resources and Crafting are two new features introduced in Dead Space 3. From the start of the game, resources can be found all over; on bodies of fallen enemies, in lockers and large amounts can also be found while taking on some side missions. All the collected resources can be taken to a bench and can be used for crafting. Isaac can craft many common items such as ammo clips and health packs but one of the best ways to utilise resources is by crafting and modifying weapons. Provided that the player has the correct resources, they can craft any new weapon from the blueprints or just randomly messing around and creating something brand new. Want to add a flamethrower to the bottom of you Plasma Cutter? Well, do it. Want to coat your ammo with acid? Go for it! The possibilities are nearly endless. It creates a desire for the player to find new resources in order to create the biggest, baddest weapon that suits them. The various items in the resource cache can also be used to upgrade Isaac’s RIG, Stasis and Kinesis modules. New Game Plus will definitely be beneficial to the player when creating their ultimate weapon. Personally, I enjoyed these new features and found them to be a welcome addition to the series.
Dead Space 3 now also features an online co-op experience for players to enjoy. The host player will assume the role of Isaac Clarke while the invited player will take on the role of Sergeant John Carver. Together, players will be able to tackle the campaign at any point due to the convenient drop-in/drop-out system. However, the co-op campaign is a little different compared to the solo campaign. In the co-op campaign, players will be able to go through the same story but there will be twists along the way which can only be seen by playing the co-op mode. More enemies are also thrown at players when playing as a team to still deliver a challenge as opposed to being too easy. I honestly had my doubts when the co-op mode was announced but it really is fun to face the Necromorph menace with a friend.
Something I found disappointing about Dead Space 3 is that the horror factor has been taken down quite a few notches. There were a few ‘jump scares’ here and there but there wasn’t really anything that made my heart race like it did when I played the first Dead Space game or its sequel. The various Necromorph types sure are scary in their appearance but it seems that Dead Space 3 is more about how combat situations are handled instead of scaring the daylights out the player.
Visually, Dead Space 3 doesn’t disappoint. There is quite a variety of environments to navigate and explore and the world just feels a little bigger than in previous instalments. Characters are detailed rather well and so are the enemies, including the new ones that show up during the game. Weapons look great too; from the detailing on the weapons themselves to the projectiles that they fire, it all looks fantastic. Another thing that I was really impressed with was all the debris seen floating in space when Isaac was required to float outside the ships in order to retrieve certain items. Cutscenes look great, aren’t intrusive and don’t keep players away from the action for too long.
The audio in the game is on par with the visuals. Together, it successfully creates an eerie atmosphere that contributes to the Dead Space experience. The music also elevates to a more frightening level once Isaac is under attack and even more so when he’s locked in a grip by Necromorph looking to turn him into a snack. Voice acting is done well and the characters help drive the story along. Sound effects in the game are great! The weapons actually sound powerful and like they can do damage. There’s also nothing more satisfying than hearing the splutter of a Necromorph’s appendage being removed from its body or stomping on a downed foe.
Dead Space 3 is a great game. It does do a few things wrong here and there but ultimately the game is really fun to play either solo or with a friend in the co-op campaign. The story does feel a little dragged out especially where Isaac and Ellie and concerned but it’s a small gripe that can be overlooked when compared to the rest of the story.
Combat is still amazing thanks to how well the game handles. The audio and visuals work well together to deliver an atmosphere that contributes to the experience from start to finish. The addition of the crafting system will definitely keep players coming back to experiment with different weapon combinations. There are also a ton of collectables and unlocks just waiting to be found by players. While Dead Space 3 might not be the greatest game of 2013, it is still very enjoyable and fans of the series will be pleased.
Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Predominantly reviewed on PlayStation 3