Published on February 7th, 2013 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Dead Space 3 Review
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2013
Dead Space has always been a series that has based itself on story and the all important “scare factor.” When the first Dead Space released, there were many moments that made you jump and possibly drop the controller. If you had a really good pair of headphones, the experience was amplified. In the first two Dead Space games there wasn’t an extreme emphasis on the storyline. They were solid, had a backstory, but were not heavily story driven. With Dead Space 3, the narrative takes front and center, and becomes the main focal point of the game. Not only does the narrative deliver, but it has the potential to be a series changer.
The franchise prides itself in fusing elements of the unknown with shock horror. The first game set the standard; it brought fresh ideas for the time period. The second game took much of the same game design and added very little to its formula. Dead Space 3 takes elements from what we enjoyed from previous games and expanded it out to a bigger playing field, with more of the narrow corridors, the immediate surprise and the thought of enemies coming out of some of the smallest crevases.
We play as Isaac Clarke, the unlucky engineer protecting humanity from “The Makers” and their army of necromorphs, the aliens that infect the bodies of humans, transforming them into monsters.
We start Dead Space 3 with Isaac searching for his missing girlfriend Ellie, and is joined by the series’ first playable co-op character, John Carver. Those who have read the novels and comic books will know a little about John, however very little is explained about him or his background during the course of the game.
The environments maintain the Dead Space macabre that fans enjoy. They open the game up to to a much bigger world and are more expansive this time around. We finally go planet side, but this is where it loses steam. The environments look fantastic however, it loses some of that survival horror feeling. The graphics look bright and vibrant with the updated Godfather engine developed by Visceral.
The addition of co-op play throws a curve ball in the series, and it does take too much away from what made the series great. It offers extra side missions for those electing to take that route, and even includes different dialogue scenes between Isaac and john. There are some missions, especially on harder difficulties, that the extra partner is more than welcomed.
Combat in Dead Space 3 is top notch. Even if you played the prior two games in the series, you’ll find that the controls and combat mechanics still remain fresh. From the different combinations you can upgrade your weapons with, to the simplistic controls, it takes no time to adapt to the upgraded gameplay.
To add to the combat, the game’s upgrade and crafting system is actually a fun and engaging experience. Before you had to locate power nodes and find schematics to create weapons. In Dead Space 3 you have to locate parts for weapons and then decide to either upgrade and existing weapon or creating a new one from the parts. This adds to the element of venturing off the beaten path to find different areas of the environment for the easily missed weapon parts.
Crafting weapons was a blast all in itself. The only limit to the number of weapons you can create is based on how many inventory or safe spots you have available. You can break old weapons down for parts and the combos are almost infinite. You can created and customize whatever part you want. If you don’t like what you crafted you can break the weapon down and start over.
The story of Dead Space 3 is pretty solid. However, there are a lot of convenient coincidences that made me say to myself, “Really?” For example, without spoiling any story, you are off to save Ellie, only to find out she is dating the guy who sent you to help her out. The experiences however do build on suspense and doesn’t take itself entirely too serious. Issac is asked to perform mundane tasks which become repetitive and time consuming, which includes finding lost objects across the map.
Visceral did very little to flush out Isaac as a character. There are still little elements that are not explained about him and his relationship with Ellie. To those who haven’t read any of the graphic novels, you will feel nothing of John as very little is explained about his background.
The other poor design choices come in the form of boss battles. I have always enjoyed the series’ choice of bosses to fight, but in Dead Space 3 we are given one boss to fight on three different occasions, and two other generic encounters that leave the ending of the game to feel like a wasted opportunity.
Dead Space 3 brought with it some very welcoming gameplay elements and a new upgrade system. It’s a shame that the story and characters aren’t as appealing as the game. From the strong graphic design, sound engineering and art style, the game felt more of an action game than the survival horror that we came to love. It should take somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to 12 hours depending on side mission completion and whether you play the game in co-op.
Dead Space 3 will not tear you from the series if you are a fan, nor will it do much to change your mind if you never got into the series. But Visceral didn’t just offer a Dead Space 2.5. The team made significant improvements to the game and added some new game modes to keep the experience fresh. It’s just a shame that other important areas of the game had to suffer in the wake of bringing the other ideas to the fore.
Even with these set backs, Dead Space 3 is a solid experience and keeps some of the elements that we have come to love from the series intact. But some opportunities were missed. As the third game in the series there should have more shaking up to keep this sequel title fresh.
+ Upgraded gameplay mechanics
– Boss battles