Monday, February 18, 2013

Dead Space 3 Review

Dead Space is a series that doesn’t exactly hold a dear place in my heart. A childhood of being freaked out from games that some may not even call scary has left me in a place where I can’t ever truly enjoy horror titles. The fact that I am walking down a dark corridor knowing something, somewhere is about to jump out and try to devour me always leaves me worried. Despite this fact I’ve played all the Dead Space titles and enjoy them for the action and try to dilute the scared little boy inside of me. I was quietly looking forward to co-op in Dead Space 3 as taking on the necromorphs with a friend would make it less painful for myself. It has come under some criticism however, so did Visceral Games pull it off?


The one aspect nailed constantly by Visceral Games is the brilliant atmosphere created in their series. Every single environment you enter has a purpose and the smart layout creates many opportunities for the game to simply jump out at you. This is all reinforced by some brilliant graphics that enhance the experience. Eery lighting in dark corridors to the haze and reduced vision you experience in the portions of the game played in the ice create that sense of urgency and danger you encounter. The game is crystal clear though, with everything looking spectacular and not simply bad and hard to distinguish as a way to create terror like some games try to pull off.

The musical score and sound effects do an excellent job of supporting the visual setting to create an amazing atmosphere. Everything from the silence interrupted by your footsteps to the eery score that calmly plays in the background before moments of terror sets up the sense of danger very well. Of course they use the amplification of noise at the entrance of an enemy, but this is to be expected (even though it will still provide the odd scare). The voice acting is also top notch even if what they saying isn’t of the highest standard. At least they fit the personality of the characters they play.


Dead Space 3 follows on from the story told in Dead Space 2. After a quick introduction to the game again you are put in the shoes of Isaac Carter, the main protagonist of the story, and forcefully made to fight against the Markers and to rescue your missing girlfriend. For those who are new to the Dead Space franchise the third entry will be pretty confusing for you, especially at the start of the game. My co-op partner had little to no clue what was going on except the basic plot line of what we were doing in this game.

The weakest point of the game is the story. We meet Isaac Carter alone, after cutting himself off from others for a long period of time. The reasons for happenings and conclusions that occur in the first chapters of the game are unbelievable and don’t assist in answering questions for long time fans, let alone newcomers. Towards the end of the game answers seem to just slot into place and it seems like everything is going perfectly to plan a little too well. The struggle and big revelation never comes as everything conveniently works out well for those involved. The fact that they also push irrelevant side quests and object hunts on you makes an arduous story even longer than most would like.

Put the story behind you and Dead Space will really shine where it always has, combat. Coming across an enemy is fierce, brutal and will have you in a frenzy as they run towards you. Firing off a clip of bullets may fail to kill a necromorph and you must resort to last ditch bashing in the hope that you come away from the fight unscathed. A real unique area of Dead Space is that the headshot is an irrelevant target for the player. After being trained to always aim for the head you must fight that urge and go for limb dismemberment as that deals more damage and slows down the AI. After you progress through the game a bit you can craft weapons and upgrade them in a mechanic new to Dead Space 3. This is done by collecting resources along your trip and using them at select crafting stations. This adds variation to how someone will play a game and encourages multiple play throughs.

The biggest feature of this title compared to previous entries is the addition of co-operative play to Dead Space. This is first and foremost a horror game and the entire premise of a game like this is the feeling of isolation to get the user terrified. Going through the game with a person next to you definitely removes the fear factor from the game simply because you have protection if need be. Playing Dead Space 3 solo is still an option and will provide the true Dead Space experience if people want that. However having Isaac Clarke team up with the new character John Carver provides an action packed experience with memories you can share. The story definitely works better with another player taking on Carver and even those who want to play through the game solo should at least attempt it with a fellow companion.


Dead Space 3 annoys me. Not only is it a beautiful game that creates a stunning atmosphere that can terrify me when playing alone but also ramp up the spectacle and create an intense action experience. This is highlighted by the great combat and surprising fun that is provided by playing the game with a friend. It is a real shame that the game is let down by a weak storyline, especially after Dead Space 2 was strong in this area in my opinion. That being sad you should easily be able to overlook the story and irritating side missions that want you to find a lost item just one too many times. There is a great load of fun to be had and you would kick yourself for missing out.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Overall - 8/10