Dead Space 3
I’ll just cut to the chase and immediately tell you I didn’t play the first two Dead Space games. That’s not much of an issue, however, as Dead Space 3 starts with a recap of what happened in the first two parts, as well as giving a short story on events that occured 200 years ago, to then bring us to the present where engineer Isaac Clarke seems to have become the Die Hard John McClane of Dead Space.
John, sorry, Isaac, has had it with the markers and as such secluded himself from the world in a Blade Runner-like colony but he isn’t granted a quiet life as some badass marines come knocking at his door and make it in a not so friendly way clear that they need his help. Isaac doesn’t want to go with them, but when it becomes clear his beloved Ellie Langford (one of the survivors of Dead Space 2) went on a mission to retrieve the origin of the markers and all contact has been lost with her since, Isaac decides to pick up his screwdriver nonetheless and head out.
That couldn’t have happened at a better time, as meanwhile some Unitologists (a cult that worships the markers and wants Isaac dead) has tracked him down and they’re not afraid to blow up a few blocks in order to achieve their goal. You escape the colony (if not, the game would have been over REALLY fast…) and go off searching for Ellie and the ice planet Tau Volantis where the markers appear to have come from, meanwhile dissecting tons of Necromorphs.
It sounds like a blockbuster action game a la Call of Duty in space, but luckily is isn’t (completely) the case and that’s thanks to the controls. Where in a normal shooter you can perfectly configure all keys to your liking, this isn’t the case in Dead Space 3. The game is clearly a port from a console title but for once the crappy controls actually provide added value. They make that you can go John Rambo and fly through levels like a madman but instead have to go steadily from corner to corner as you should in a third person horror game, without the gameplay being interfered.
It does make the game seem to be undergoing an identity crisis. Horror is more about atmosphere than action and that’s where things go wrong a bit. You can perfectly imagine where Necromorphs will pop up, the music swells each time something awaits you, and the Necromorphs aren’t the most difficult enemies you’ve ever encountered. Ammo is never an issue as you find ammunition all around, just like health packs, and the garbage you see laying around can be used to craft new weapons and upgrade them. Were it not for the controls, the fact that headshots do less damage than shooting limbs, and the crafting of weapons, you could almost think you’re playing a new version of Doom with a somewhat altered story.
Except then that Doom is a straightforward shooter and Dead Space 3 next to the shooting has some puzzles. And on-rails parts where you need to evade obstacles. Myea, we weren’t truly waiting for those either…
We may sound negative, but Dead Space 3 is fun to play. The story is quite decent, the graphics look good (for a console port), the sound does its best to create atmosphere, and you get a clear urge to move forward. And all in all it’s such an urge you need when thinking of whether a game is good or not. The problems of Dead Space 3 are mostly with what we’ve stated above, and the fact that EA and Visceral give you the opportunity to create overly powerful weapons and have an abundance of ammo so that you never truly feel as if you might run into trouble. And if that were the case, microtransactions can take away that problem as you can buy just about anything you need to make sure you never have to worry.
As the controls and the gun gameplay of Dead Space 3 prohibit you to shoot your way through levels like a madman you’ll spend over 15 hours to finish in singleplayer, and then we haven’t checked out all side quests nor the extra modes. Once having gone through those as well, you can have fun in co-op where you play the same story, but through the point of view of a different character. We do have to note that this co-op isn’t perfectly set up, though. As player you can sit around waiting for some time while your partner decides to craft a new weapon, and you can’t just drop in on any other game that’s going on. Whether this co-op will truly become popular is therefore the question.
All in all we have to say that Dead Space 3 is an enjoyable game that will keep you busy for quite some time in singleplayer and has no problem urging you to further explore the story. The issues we noted above aren’t of such a nature that they ruin the fun, but fans of the first two games could be left a bit on their hunger as the makers tried to appeal to a broader audience with Dead Space 3 and as such made some adjustments that bring forth a bigger focus on action. As a game Dead Space 3 succeeds, but as third person horror game it doesn’t.