Review – Dead Space 3
Dead Space 3 is the third installment in the Horror franchise developed by EA’s Visceral Games. The Dead Space series follows Isaac Clarke, a spaceship engineer who finds himself stuck on a ship surrounded by a whole bunch of Necromorphs (mutated human monster/alien things). He discovers that these are created by something called the marker, which he destroys. Unfortunately for him it sends him loopy before he blows it up, leaving him considerably insane for the second game. Many people have worried that the 3rd game has become too action oriented, especially with the addition of co-op in this iteration, does Dead Space 3 deliver what the fans want? As fans of the series Sam and Josh venture into the games co-op mode to see if it lives up to standards set by the previous games.
SB: So Dead Space for me has been a big staple on my gaming life, I’m not a fan of horror generally but the original game really clicked with me personally for some reason. With the second game becoming more character focused (Ellie, yay!) I actually got fairly involved with the plot of the game. I was actually pretty interested to see what would happen at the climax of this game.
JM: As somewhat of a thrill seeker, horror games have always intrigued me, Dead Space being no exception. Having played and enjoyed Dead Space 1 and 2, I was looking forward to sinking my teeth into the franchise’s third installment. With the addition of cooperative play I was anticipating a game filled with just as many frights as the originals, whilst rampaging as a necromorph hunting duo armed with a dizzying array weapons.
SB: As both of us have mentioned the horror element to the franchise let’s tackle that first, for me Dead Space 3 wasn’t scary in the slightest. The game seems to have followed the Resident Evil route and lost all of its scares with the introduction of Co-op, it’s a lot less terrifying when something jumps out at you and is dismembered instantly by your teammate before it can hurt you. There is a couple of side missions in the game where one of the players has moments of insanity but these aren’t utilised anywhere near as much as they could be, which is a crying shame.
JM: Unfortunately I have to agree with you here, for a survival horror game, there were very few elements of either. Yes the necromorphs are pretty scary, but this is their third game. After spending the 2 previous games blasting apart the same monsters, you start craving something new. There were even necromorphs missing, Visceral would have been better keeping the enemies from Dead Space 2, at least they were varied and interesting. I suppose the game still had moments where a necromorph would jump out of a duct, or even the ground attempting to rip you apart, in a fashion only the most twisted of minds could envisage. But when your partner ends the experience prematurely with a well placed shotgun cartridge, well, it just becomes comical. Often we would find ourselves racing to kill the necromorphs, looking for encounters just to try out our shiny new guns. Now if i’m not mistaken the whole idea of a survival horror game isn’t to run round with almost infinite supplies, a weapon that can rip almost anything to shreds before you could say “Issac Clarke” and a teammate who can do exactly the same.
SB: This is very true, it seems that they’ve taken the action game stance over the horror one. I remember having just over 1000 rounds in my shotgun at one point in the game, definitely not survival horror! I think Visceral adding in both the co-op and the combat against other humans (with the genre standard waist high walls in tow) has really molded the experience into more of a Gears than a Dead Space, that’s not to say this isn’t fun, it’s just not what was expected of a Dead Space game unfortunately. The game does introduce a new species in the final few chapters but this doesn’t vary the enemy types enough to be honest, and there are more than a fair share of glowing orange orbs to shoot on some bigger enemies, the game really does feel like Lost Planet, especially during the snow missions.
JM: Still if we are to redefine the Dead Space 3 experience to a cover based shooter, it does have one redeeming feature, that in my opinion was the most enjoyable part of the game. You get to create your own Dead Space guns! Well I say create, the new weapon system allows you to combine classic Dead Space-esque weapons, fusing up to 2 weapons into a single gun. It is possible to make all of the guns from the original following blueprints, but that would be just downright boring. I stuck with my trusty plasma cutter, albeit a rapid firing one with a flamethrower underneath, for the majority of the campaign. But the possibilities are mind boggling with each category of weapon having around 3 variants and many attachments. I could have spent hours at the bench, screw the end of the world I wanna make guns.
SB: I seem to remember you did spend hours at the bench! I have to admit the weapon creating was fun, and I love the fact that after you’ve created this awesome gun combination you can then upgrade it’s reload/RoF/damage/etc based on your personal taste. I think redefining the gameplay of Dead Space 3 is the only way you can do it, this game is no longer the tense corridor shooter of Dead Space 1, it’s an entirely different animal. One that is definitely enjoyable in its own right but not what fans would want!
JM: Even though, after redesigning the franchise, we can come to grips with the new gameplay mechanics, Dead Space 3 still felt unpolished in places. For a game that is being published by a big name like EA you would hope that it had been thoroughly tested. It’s not like Visceral were creating a huge open world experience with randomly generated events, this is a scripted game. Nonetheless both Sam and I found, on numerous occasions, that we would explode into giblets for no reason whatsoever. Initially this was amusing, but after 3 or 4 times it was understandably frustrating and downright annoying. Still nothing compares to the rappelling sequences. Again I’m sure they wouldn’t be too bad in singleplayer, but in multiplayer the clunky movement combined with the aforementioned oddities left us having to repeat sections a ridiculous amount of times. I’m sure without the handful of the sequences, which should last no more than 60 seconds each, we could have shaved a good hour or 2 off our playtime…
SB: Ahhhh, the rappelling sequences. Every single time you see a rappel station in the game it depresses you, they really are that bad! I think that a large number of the issues with Dead Space could be to do with the co-op. Having recently stated that co-op was shoehorned into the game about halfway through creation it makes a lot more sense that this aspect of the game is unpolished. The part that we found consistently amusing is how the character that Josh was playing would just appear randomly in cutscenes, cementing that fact that this game is all about Isaac. Carver (the second character) really is a backseat character here, he gets slightly fleshed out in some side missions but you can tell that he is an afterthought. I actually quite enjoyed the plot in this game it provides a fairly satisfying conclusion to the series, although the ending seems fairly rushed without any real explanation as to what is going on. Even the random audio logs placed throughout the game don’t really do a very good job of explaining what’s going on.
All in all Dead Space 3 is a disappointing title in the series, the plot seems to be rushed towards the end and the horror aspect is missing completely. If you think of Dead Space 3 as an action game instead of a survival horror then you’ll save yourself some disappointment. The game is fun, but definitely flawed!