Genres: Survival horror, 3rd person shooter
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: 08/02/13
Dead Space 3 – Single Player Review
After having survived one horrific incident aboard a space vessel, involving scary ass, mutated humans ready to tear you to pieces, you’d think it would be the worst luck in the world (or the universe) to have to go through it all again. This time we’re on a space colony rather than a ship; barely surviving once again and probably thinking that surely, just surely, this couldn’t happen a third time around, right? Wrong. Isaac is back, and ready to stomp out the necromorphs for good! I mean, it’s not as if he has a choice anyway…
For those of you who haven’t played Dead Space before; fear not, as a quick video goes over the events of the first two games for you, before you start a new one. What then follows is a cool little intro played through the opening credits, as you work your way through a blizzard and learn the basic controls as a character who will be unfamiliar, even to a hard-core fan of the series. This soon escalates as our new protagonist is forced to fend off ice-pick wielding foes as he explores a wreckage – his screams as he takes them down are welcoming, but you may worry straight away about how this seems to favour action over horror. Especially when soon after you are abseiling down an icy cliff as the wreckage is falling upon you. When finally taking control of Isaac I thought my mind would be put to ease and that I would gain reassurance that the game wouldn’t just be action-based. Alas, his intro was probably even more action packed than before – ducking behind cover and taking down human enemies packing heat. This is definitely not the Dead Space I know and love.
Luckily the very start of the game is to benefit the story and get the ball rolling, as the rest (despite its odd moments) is back to how Dead Space should be. There are many times in which you’ll be walking through dark and creepy corridors, hearing noises and banging through vents as you stop in your tracks and wonder where it came from, and when that happens the music will be suited well. After all, the sound and music are still the most effective part of Dead Space, making you all the more cautious when you hear any noise or scream, and fearing what may come next when the music becomes more tense – shrieking violins favoured over the chugging distorted guitar we hear in the intro.
The story itself plays out great – a religious cult of people set off a marker that causes the dead to turn into hideous creatures known as necromorphs, leaving Isaac and his ‘friends’ to find the origins of the markers and put a stop to the necromorph before it wipes out humanity. It is on a much larger scale than before, and as a result so is the rest of the game. The first game was strapped to the confines of a single ship – we now see Isaac venture across a futuristic city, through various wreckages in outer space, and on a frozen planet where the second half takes place. I wasn’t too keen on Isaac’s new hardened personality but then I guess he’s earned it after all he’s been through. Still, that doesn’t excuse the unnecessary relationship issues that underline the bigger picture.
The basic structure of gameplay remains, where you aim in a 3rd-person perspective and take down enemies with various weapons. Of course there are some new additions to the series. You can now crouch when you walk around so that you may duck behind cover and become a lot harder to shoot. This was a necessity though, since gun-wielding enemies joined the fray.
The most impressive new addition is the ability to craft your own weapons using the various work-benches that you’ll come across. As you go through the game you will pick up various parts, which you can use to customise a variety of different tools to help you slaughter your enemies. You want the basic Plasma Cutter but with a flamethrower attached? Sure. Or perhaps a shotgun that impales your foes on the wall, and fires electricity from underneath? You got it! You could spend a lot of time crafting your own weapons… I know I certainly did. Scavenger bots are another new entry – using a radar you will have to find a specific location where you can deploy the little drone and after a certain period of time it will return to your work bench, bringing with it further useful parts to go towards customizing a weapon, creating an item, or upgrading your suit. In addition, if you happen to have a Mass Effect 3 save you will be able to don the fabled N7 suit from that game.
I really enjoyed the less linear approach to Dead Space 3 – you can choose to avoid sections if you wish and just carry on with your main objective. However, if you choose to investigate these optional missions (some of which can also only be done in co-op) you are likely to find better items and equipment, at the expense of taking on more enemies. The good old necromorphs from the original return, with a few from the second entry making an appearance too. There are of course some new types as well, such as ice pick wielding foes and even ‘Gollum-esque’ creatures that lurk in packs… even titan-like necromorphs that you’ll find yourself inside, in one of the most memorable moments of the game. You will certainly need to test out your variety of weapons to find which is the most effective for killing each kind.
Dead Space 3 is different from the previous encounters – not because of its action elements that may seem controversial to fans, but the fact that a big portion of the game is played in big open spaces on a frozen plain, leaving behind the dark and claustrophobic horror. It’s almost what a ‘The Thing’ sequel could have been like. Well, for scenes where you’re in the snow anyway! Stay out in the cold for too long and you will freeze to death; that is of course if you’re not wearing the right suit. You will even notice Isaac starting to freeze over. The game brings magnificent attention to detail throughout the majority of the game, especially when you’re trudging through snow and fending off a blizzard – which just looks lovely. Plus the flow in and out of cut-scenes to create seamless looking gameplay is superb, and the camerawork that comes with it. As you may have noticed I have concentrated a lot on comparing Dead Space 3 to its predecessors – after all how can I not? I am such a fan of the first two that I feel it has to be pointed out that this is both very similar and yet so very different. This is by no means a bad thing though, it just depends on how comfortable you are with change, and whether you’re willing to accept it. Moments where you’re free-flying through space avoiding debris, abseiling up cliffs, freezing enemies with stasis, solving puzzles – as being an engineer you will need to fix things; there’s just so much to do in this game, and I haven’t even covered co-operative play with new-comer John Carver.
The off-putting start aside, Dead Space 3 is a fine addition to the series. It may not capture the sheer horror that the first did, but it manages to maintain moments that are true to the original whilst practicing so many other different and successful elements with it. Visceral wanted to try something new whilst keeping fans happy, and it has certainly paid off. Although I’m still unsure why the title music sounds like you’re about to play Batman: Arkham City…
- Brilliant new weapon crafting system
- A grand variety of gameplay elements
- Engaging and quality animation
- A little action heavy at times
- Relationship drama not needed
There is a significant amount of variety in this game that you just simply don’t get with most 3rd-person shooters – that’s what certainly keeps the game alive. I can safely say that I was not bored during a single moment during Dead Space 3, and surely that’s the whole point? For anyone new to the series you will most likely love this game. As a fan I have tried to look at this from both my own point of view and from that of someone who is completely new to Dead Space. Either way, it’s a winner!
In four parts, the Dead Space Journey Through Terror series charts the evolution of the Dead Space series to date – its story, its gameplay and its scares, and also provides a glimpse at what the next chapter has in store for Isaac Clarke in Dead Space 3. In this final episode of the mini series, we discover what... Read More »
Isaac Clarke can always use another suit! Check out Isaac and Carver’s N7 Armour inspired by Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard. To get the N7 armor you simply need to have played Mass Effect 3. Here are the instructions on how to get your very own N7 armor for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC: • Play Mass Effe... Read More »
Narrated by Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis, you’ll get an in-depth look at how Isaac and his partner Carver will work their way through the frozen planet of Tau Volantis. Exepct to see new environments, co-op mechanics, weapons, enemies, and of course the epic boss fights that make Dead Space the best in its ... Read More »
The epoch of high-definition consoles has opened a floodgate of opportunity for story-tellers to show us their visions in the gaming world. Now that HDMI and high-power processors are commonplace in the living room, developers have begun an all-out victory lap in imagining settings for us to explore. Where has their cr... Read More »
In Part 1 of The Science of Dead Space, we looked at the concept of mining planets and asteroids, comparing Dead Space’s vision of the future with reality. This time we’ll talk about blowing stuff up and saving the world. Asteroid Defence Cannon Everybody loves firing good ol’ fashioned cannons. According to Dead Space... Read More »
For nearly four years now, EA’s Dead Space franchise has been the proud flagship of sci-fi horror games. From the outset the game’s developers, Visceral, have clearly put a lot of thought into the overall legitimacy of the game’s position within the sci-fi genre. The protagonist’s very identity is dripping with the swe... Read More »
This year I was blessed – one of my E3 wishes came true. Yeah ok, anybody could have made the prediction (and we’ll pretend like it wasn’t leaked pre-show) but this year EA showed us a glimpse of Dead Space 3.
The Dead Space series for me has been probably the most immersive this generation. Playing it in the dark with the surround sound up the edges of the TV screen just fade away and before you know it your on the Ishimura clutching onto your plasma cutter and few remaining rounds for dear life.
The series hasn’t been afraid to change things up either; you could argue that Dead Space 2 was the Aliens to the first installment’s Alien. Despite the changes to pacing and narrative the feel of Dead Space remained throughout, and even translated over to the iPad surprisingly well. What with all the comics, books and anime movies, the Dead Space universe is a vast one and there is plenty of depth there for anybody who wants to find it. It’s that coupled with the tension and fear Dead Space seems to have mastered so perfectly that makes me hold it in such high regard.
Then EA went and did something that I thought might be just a step to far, and introduced a co-op partner to the mix… to what is effectively the ‘story mode’ too. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about that, and while the prospect of tearing up necromorphs with a friend sounds like fun I can’t help but feel like it couldn’t possibly have the same fear factor with your mate jabbering in your ear. What about those parts when it all gets a bit too much, when I need to take a break, turn the game off and hide the disc in the freezer for a few hours? I needed to find the answers to my questions, and luckily for me EA happened to be having a live stream event to show the fans the game. It was the closest I was going to get with out spending a few hundred quid on a flight.
The bulk of the action takes place on the ice planet, Tau Volantis, after Isaac crash lands and is separated from Ellie, although space fans need not worry as there will be some sections of the game that take place off-world. The gameplay section showed Isaac and his new co-op partner Carver, a soldier (rather than an engineer). The two will need to work together to solve many of those classic Dead Space puzzles, and take down the swam of necromorphs that stand between you and Ellie. A prime example of this was one of those kind of mini-bosses Dead Space likes to throw at you, in which you need to stop a faulty drilling machine while the transformed dead come looking for a bite. In here one player needs to concentrate on using stasis on the drill bit to slow it down and fire at the power source, while the other concentrates on taking down enemies.
It’s great to watch and I’m sure it’s great to play, but I just couldn’t see how it could be scary in the same way that I’m used to. I’m torn, I really want to play this in co-op now but I really don’t want to say goodbye to that feeling of solitary and survival. Then my worries were put to rest; the team at Visceral have gone and done what just might be the greatest use of co-op in a game. It’s optional, completely optional… you don’t need to play the game in co-op and even better than that if your’re playing solo Carver just simply isn’t there most of the time. Sure you’ll cross paths every now and then but the narrative and gameplay has been structured in such a way that Carver now adds a little bit of that extra something to the Dead Space universe.
I was worried over nothing, I should of had more faith. I’ve got it sussed out in my head how I’ll be playing now; first time round in the dark on my own then again with a friend for what I’m sure will be filled with plenty of those “ohhhh yeahhhh now that makes sense” moments.Dead Space 3 - Single Player Review,