February 6, 2013 by khrisgolder
Fans have been waiting for the epic follow-up to the critically acclaimed (and controversial) Dead Space series. The blockbuster is finally here. Visceral Games promised to deliver a bigger experience, unique gameplay, and a special co-op gameplay experience to boot. It sounds like music to our ears, but did this necromorph machine bite off more than it could chew?
The game opens in traditional Dead Space fashion: shootouts, explosions, and gore galore. Isaac is hiding out from everyone and everything, and after Titan station… who could blame him? However, EarthGov has something else in mind for him. Captain Norton and Sergeant John Carver scoop Isaac up and coerce him into helping them locate Ellie Langford and her crew. Because they may have discovered a means to completely demolish the markers.
At this point in the trilogy, there are markers at every major colony and outpost, which means there are more markers in the galaxy than inside a Sharpie warehouse. As if Isaac didn’t have enough to worry about with all his girl problems and necromorphs, he now has to deal with unitology extremists who would give their lives to protect their precious, hellish artifacts.
The extremist leader, Jacob Arthur Danik, believes, “The age of man is at an end… but fear not for there is a future.” The idiotic cult hasn’t learned, and they’re still hellbent on convergence. Danik launches a full assault on EarthGov for all their marker experimentation. After a marker gets activated, all limbs break loose, and Isaac gets to do his thing (not necessarily in that order).
After reaching the CMS Roanoke, the player is greeted with the most expansive free roam area in Dead Space to date. Gain access to a small transport vessel called the SK1P, and the player becomes able to reach even more areas, which are virtually equal in size. In fact, there are optional missions/areas that are easily DLC length. There is no doubt Visceral Games delivered when they said they were going to make Dead Space 3 the biggest title yet.
The game emphasizes fast-paced action, but loses a lot of its nightmarish flare as a result. Instead, Dead Space 3 trades off by throwing quicker, stronger enemies at the player. Limbs are harder to sever, and decapitation is half as effective as it used to be. There are also several different difficulties that will challenge even the most seasoned Dead Space players. There is still intensity, but it isn’t the same horror flavor. It’s a style change that many fans might be uncomfortable with at first. Anyone who has played the first two Dead Space titles will be familiar with the formula for all the jumpy, basic scare tactics. Unfortunately, there aren’t any mind blowing scares in this one. Luckily, there is no shortage of action, keeping most players too busy to mind.Fun History Fact: The CMS Roanoke in Dead Space 3 was named after a colony of English settlers who mysteriously disappeared while attempting to colonize America in the 16th century. This marks the first rule of space exploration: be careful what you name your ship.
Certain gameplay upgrades make Dead Space 3 the most player-friendly title in the series. For example, blueprints are transmitted immediately to the Bench without wasting precious inventory space. Throw around scavenger bots to help boost the number of crafting items. If the inventory is full and Isaac needs health, picking up a med pack will apply it directly to his life gauge. The oxygen gauge (especially when fully upgraded) alleviates the need to constantly find oxygen sources, coming in handy once the player reaches the game’s spacious environments.
Nodes, cash, and stores are history. Dead Space 3 features an all-purpose workbench where inventory can be customized and stored. Instead of picking up money from enemies, Isaac finds spare parts to craft various weapons. Don’t worry: items can still be sold. The value of each item is represented by various types of resources. Sell a small med pack for Somatic Gel. Additionally, the player can craft items from parts. If Isaac has a ridiculous surplus of small med packs, and needs a large med pack, the player can liquidate somatic gel in order to create better items. Crafting also includes ammunition and objects that allow Isaac to access otherwise unreachable areas.
Weapon crafting is extensive, and allows a player of any type to construct the gun that fits their style. Construct or break down weapon parts, without penalty, and recreate your ideal weapon. Weapons require frames, tools, and tips, but almost everything is interchangeable. Each weapon has an Upper Tool (gun component), and most feature a Lower Tool that allows the alt-fire (the traditional RB Alt-fire). Weapons can also be upgraded with Attachments (buffs) and Upgrade Circuits that can be applied on the Upper and Lower Tools.
The possibilities are ridiculous. Through trial and error, create your dream weapons. Or try out my personal favorite. The double line gun combo — one tool loaded with damage upgrades and another with fire rate upgrades — then switch off between the two blade fires. It’s much more intricate than the old-fashioned node-based upgrades featured in Dead Space 1 & 2, and it boosts the game’s replay value significantly.Fun Dead Space Fact: The very first marker artifact man discovered was the Black Marker, which was exhumed on Earth in 2214. Way to blow, archaeologists.
The rig can be upgraded and exchanged for other rigs at a suit kiosk. Upgrades are as to be expected: increased health, oxygen, and stasis duration/damage/range. This is where things like scrap metal and somatic gel come in handy. Players are truly rewarded for survival because if they use fewer items, they’ll have more raw materials for permanent upgrades. It feels like a more satisfying experience than the simple accumulation of space money.
Back again are the predictable hidden items. There’s the elusive Peng, of course. Find artifacts: Earth Gov, unitologist, and Sovereign Colonies (S.C.A.F.). Locate audio messages and text logs. They all add to the story by explaining the history of each area. Unfortunately, there are no standout achievements. Kill, dismember, max out weapons/suit, and find Peng: everything you would expect to do in Dead Space. There are a couple secret achievements that are endeering, but nothing incredibly special.
Dead Space 3 has matured into a polished, addictive sci-fi/horror shooter. The only thing really holding it back is the shortage of psychological terror. What it lacks in survival horror atmosphere, it almost makes up for in action-packed gameplay. Those looking for a trip down nightmare lane will probably be disappointed. Those who can get over the direction the series has taken will enjoy what the game has to offer. It has numerous single player difficulties, special co-op only missions, and an awesome co-op mode that will keep you dismembering for dozens of hours.
GamerCheese Score: 8.75/10.0