Game Review: Dead Space 3 [X360/PS3/PC]
Dead Space 3 is one of those games that, at first glance, I would usually avoid as I am easy to scare. That said, I have played both of the previous titles and loved them both; the second especially for forever embedding the eye and needle scene into my nightmares. Dead Space 3’s main issue is that, even though the game is still a bit jumpy in places, it definitely doesn’t feel as scary as the previous instalments, which may put off fans of the series if they are looking for another horror-fest. Players of the previous titles, like myself, are used to the clever manipulation of one’s fear – it was something the series was good at doing. Now, the game has gone towards being more focused on action and a fairly dumbed-down plot that includes many forgettable characters and no real atmosphere. That said, the game, just like the sphere it draws you into, will immediately have you hooked.
The story throughout the previous titles hasn’t been too unique and has clearly been influenced by Sci-Fi classics, such as Alien – that’s not to say it’s terrible, however. What the games have delivered strongly is the setting and how well-crafted the locations are in the game. Tight corridors with necromorphs waiting eagerly to jump out and offer you a slice of cake, with a sprinkle of death were intensely effective. Dead Space introduced nasty creatures to our consoles, with Dead Space 2 making the story a bit easier to follow, adding a lot of obscure interludes, taking the creepy factor to a whole new level. This is where Dead Space 3 falls flat; while the overall story started off fairly decently in the original, Dead Space 2 opening it up a bit more, Dead Space 3 just feels like an unnecessary continuation of the series. I was glad to see Isaac Clarke return but the reason why he re-enters our lives is very cheesy.
The opening of the game does a good job of putting you in the action, helping new and old players get used to the controls and what to expect of the title. However, previous players will notice that the necromorphs, even though terrifying creatures, just don’t feel as intimidating as before. There are still moments in the game that will cause some sudden panic and shock, but it’s not as frequent as previous instalments. A lot of the necromorphs are much bigger and the majority of the time you can hear them groan and charge at you, preparing you for what is about to happen. Killing them, however, is still the aim of the game, and many cutting, slicing and whacking tools return, allowing you to remove their limbs before they get a chance to claw you. Remember, double-tap as some of the enemies have the tendency to fake their deaths and come back to life, thanks to a tiny spore. Even though the necropmophs feel less intimidating they are still a challenge to deal with and you will find in this adaptation that they pack in larger groups; there will be times where you will need to use ‘stasis’ to slow them down. Even though some of the sequences that swamp you with enemies can grow tiresome, the game still provides some brilliant sequences, many of my favourites include side missions. Some have you drifting through space to find certain parts for a ship and there are also some very tense sequences that will keep you on your toes. There is also a part in the game where you will venture across the treacherous snowy mountains of Tau Volantis, where the action will open away from the tight corridors. The new settings boast some beautiful visuals among some interesting foes that will appear in your way. Graphically, the game is easily the best looking out of the three titles. EA and Visceral have really put a lot of high production value into the title. The game features some of the best environments I have experienced in a game, the snow and lighting effects are undeniably fantastic. The original score amongst these fantastic effects and setting really packs perhaps the best punch in series history.
The combat has significantly improved. You can now perform evasive rolls, and duck and cover moves, which make it a nice option to have instead of just walking through the endless corridors aiming down your sight and moving slowly. A lot of the combat improvements are actually supported by the ability to now craft your own weapon. Building your own weapon is easier than it may seem as the game is riddled with parts to use. The parts can range from engines, chassis, and attachments; you can also create composite weapons, with primary and secondary fire modes. Mêlée options are also available. The combinations you can build are quite something, killing the necropmophs has never been so fun. These weapons can be built using micro-transactions. Even though I mentioned previously that finding new weapons to build comes at ease, the bad news is that the game requires you to harvest a lot of materials. This will take some time, as certain materials appear less frequently than others, requiring you to stomp on the dead necromorphs, check boxes and search through cupboards an awful lot. There is also the option to use AI controlled scavenger bots to find items for you.
This time around, Visceral have decided to include a co-op mode in Dead Space 3. Admittedly, the single player campaign does feel like it was originally created to be a co-op focused Dead Space title. You can still however happily ignore the co-op mode and luckily it doesn’t take away from the single player experience. Playing in the co-op mode will reduce the fear factor considerably. Don’t worry, though, it doesn’t just suddenly develop into a generic shooter, there are still well-crafted set-pieces that will require tactical covering of each other’s backs. The co-op does feel very similar to Resident Evil 5 & 6, but feels much more fluid, generally comparing favourably.
Dead Space 3 is a very interesting game that, even though it continues the story we have experienced in the previous titles, there is just something missing. It doesn’t feel like a Dead Space game. However, the game still packs an excellent experience with beautiful visuals, an amazing score, and some brilliant sci-fi action that’s hard to put down. Co-op, even though not a main feature, still provides some interesting mechanics, making the co-op much better than expected. It’s a shame that the game is less focused on survival horror and is more of a sci-fi action title. Personally, I feel that the original Dead Space will always be my favourite title in the series as it introduced me to its universe and left me screaming as necromorphs climbed through the vents. Dead Space 3 is still a very good game, however, just with less horror and more action.