Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Genre(s): Third Person Shooter
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer: Visceral Games
Dead Space 3 would have been a near perfect game. If we were living in a world without Uncharted, Call of Duty and Gears of War. Oh, and Lost Planet. Reason being, it ends up feeling like a not so appetising concoction of these games instead of another bout of suspenseful horror that the first two titles in the series so masterfully delivered.
While its predecessors had eerie environmental touches that gave them a rather unsettling and sinister atmosphere, Dead Space 3 offers you the astounding variety of two environments, industrial complex and snowy outdoors. It’s as if the folks at Visceral outsourced the level art to the team behind Dragon Age 2 as you’ll be seeing the same generic areas over and over again.
Furthermore, the queasy one on one combat mechanics that have you always almost on the ropes for survival have been replaced with full scale Gears of War style combat complete with a cover system. Gone is the tension of making every shot count, in its place is a liberal amount of ammo and cannon fodder. The staccato pacing has been replaced with something more in tune with Uncharted, replete with set-pieces punctuated by the all but familiar necromorph or two popping out of then woodwork in attempt of eliciting jumpy scares but failing as it ends up feeling predictable. The psychological horrors of the first two games have been replaced with tension and terror, which isn’t as impactful as it could have been. Any bit of fear you feel is thanks to the smart sound design that does a fair bit to try salvaging what’s a rather action-oriented affair.
If this wasn’t enough, soon after the haphazard intro it devolves into a series of fetch quests with a ton of backtracking. Not fun at all. And if you’re interested in maintaining any shred of horror that could still possibly exist, you’d be best served playing this alone. The co-op mode just heightens the already derivative dudebro stench to cataclysmic proportions. You’re shoehorned with a grunt by the name of Carver who suffers from hallucinations, resulting in the player controlling him seeing things differently. It’s a nice touch but does little to alleviate the fact that you’ll still be indulging in pointless revisits to areas you’ve already been to and defeat the same bosses repeated two or three times over.
Major design grief aside, at least the core combat is still decent. Dismembering necromorphs is entertaining though we could do without having to slaughter soldiers as they add no challenge to the proceedings. Nonetheless it’s still a solid affair despite having just two weapons to choose from against the prior games’ four. However the robust crafting system more than makes up for it, allowing you to create tools of violent death with ease such as plasma cutters with floating saws. With the hype and hoopla around EA’s decision to include micro-transactions, it does little to hamper the experience. It’s almost a non-issue as you can breeze through the game with ample components to spare. Kinesis is still a joy to use, putting enemies in stasis and then impaling them never gets old.
Graphically, it looks quite similar to Dead Space 2, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. Not necessarily a good thing since there’s been a two year gap between the games. However it does more than enough to keep you interested. Wish we could say the same for the plot which is little more than an excuse to save the universe. You’re Isaac Clarke and you’re more than happy to drink your life away while the cult of Unitologists (the series’ human villains) raise markers all over the galaxy transforming humans into necromorphs. This changes the moment you realise your love interest is held captive on an icy planet and that the universe needs saving (not necessarily in that order).
On the whole, Dead Space 3 isn’t the greatest end to one of the bigger success stories when it comes to new IP this generation. It’s a solid shooter with slick mechanics but falls short in every other way.
Unique co-op experience
Gameplay Progression: 6/10
Unique Selling Proposition: 6/10
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 platform.