I’m a huge Dead Space fan. Not trying to brag, but I have all the achievements in Dead Space and Dead Space 2, and in the latter I secured all the original achievements in fewer than four days after its launch. In short, I know my Dead Space. Ever since Dead Space 3 announced it would have co-op, it received mixed opinions quite commonly. Because of this, I was unsure how the game would be. Would it be Dead Space, or would it be just another action game?
The good news is that it does feel like Dead Space… sometimes. The better news is that the co-op is fun. The best news is that the game is worth your time.
Dead Space 3 revolves around veteran protagonist, Isaac Clarke. Isaac, after trying to live a relatively normal life, gets pulled back into the fighter against the markers when two men from Earth Gov. inform him that Ellie, Isaac’s now ex-girlfriend, has gone missing while working for them. Issac gears up with his trusty plasma cutter with a new goal – find Ellie, kill necromorphs, stop the markers. Well… on second thought… that’s pretty much the goal he has had in all the games (save the first was with Nicole instead of Ellie), but whatever you get the point.
After peeling the plastic wrapping off the case and entering the limited edition codes, I loaded it up and selected single player. As an avid Dead Space fan, I wanted to experience the game alone first and experience the game for what it is, after all, Dead Space is supposed to be about that feeling of loneliness in uncomfortably deadly environments. The fear set in that this game wouldn’t be that series I knew and loved. EA clearly manipulated Visceral Games’ development cycle, as reported micro-transactions and heavier action-oriented gameplay pointed out.
To my pleasant surprise, many of the questionable additions were completely ignorable. Micro-transactions are next to invisible unless you look for them, the game itself feels like a single player game when alone and a co-op game when with a friend, and combat maneuvers like taking cover and rolling aren’t really needed unless you’re really bad at Dead Space. In fact, they don’t even tell you how to combat roll until you’re halfway through the game because it matters so little.
At its core, the gameplay is still Dead Space. One addition I have a love/hate relationship with is the new workbench, weapon crafting, and resource management system. I love the resource management aspect they’ve added. I think it adds a level of depth you cannot achieve with the standard money and shop system that the previous games had. In contrast to this, however, I feel the weapon crafting system, while it is good and incredibly customizable, kind of ruins the old feel of the Dead Space games. In Dead Space 1 & 2, your arsenal mainly consisted of futuristic powertools – a mineral cutter, a floating sawblade, an industrial torch, surveying tools, etc. With the new weapons and workbench system, I found myself with rifles and SMGs more often, which kind of ruins the whole “cut off their limbs” aspect of killing the necromorphs. Like, I seriously just shoot them in the chest a lot and they die. It’s not Dead Space in that sense.
The environments go from lame, to cool, to lame again, and then back to cool in a repeating cycle throughout the game. The area you start in, a lunar colony is kind of bland. It’s the stereotypical slum section of a futuristic city. In other words, lots of hover cars and dumpsters. After a bit, you travel in space and explore some ancient space ruins floating in orbit of a snowy planet, and this is actually my favorite part of the game. There is a lot of freedom in this area, it’s essentially free roam for this portion of the game, and lots of secrets are hiding in the discarded pieces of the 200-year old vessel. In due time, you travel to the planet you’re orbiting, Tau Volantis, and continue to fight necromorphs in the blizzardous conditions. Tau Volantis is an interesting planet, and I felt that the setting goes from tasty to tasteless quite often, my favorites being at a crash site during a blizzard and while exploring an abandoned lab. The music is the traditional ambient music while exploring which phases into a more thrilling soundtrack as need be and really compliments the areas you’ll be visiting.
There are very few new enemies thrown into the mix, with the Waster being the most prominent. The Waster is basically a zombie with two hatchets who can sprout three necromorphic limbs when chopped in half. The older enemies return with new looks that fit into the different environments more so than their Ishimura counterparts. Human enemies are in this game, though the fights between them are short and often interrupted by necromorphs tearing them apart. The boss fights are the normal, shoot the yellow spots to hurt them deal and shouldn’t really cause much trouble for the player.
The additional missions are a neat addition story wise and offer you tons of goodies to help you on your campaign against the undead space monsters. Unfortunately, they reuse environments… over and over again. I visited rooms that looked exactly the same as rooms before it four or five times because of side missions, and it really got dull after a while. Luckily, Carver’s (the co-op character) has a lot of really cool story elements that you will only experience during co-op side-missions which is an added bonus in a sea of Oblivion-esk rehashed dungeon rooms.
The story of the game, without any spoilers, takes plenty of leaps and turns you should expect from a thriller game, with drama added on for that extra spice. Sometimes it gets a little ridiculous, but then again, the entire Dead Space universe is a little ridiculous, so I think we can let it slide. It was a solid conclusion to a trilogy worth playing in my book, and despite its flaws, is a good game.
New game + adds tons of replay value, offering three new modes, Hardcore, Pure Survival and Classic. On top of New Game +, there are over 130 collectables in the game, which encourages deeper exploration of environments and completion of side quests to obtain them all, as well as rewards for obtaining them. The replay value of this game is actually really impressive, especially since you’ll want to play through the normal game twice, once alone and once with a friend.
Overall, Dead Space 3 does live up to its predecessors. It is definitely a slightly different game, but at its core it’s pretty much the same idea. People sometimes argue that Dead Space 3 wasn’t scary… but neither was Dead Space 1 or 2. They’ve always been thriller games, but never scarier than a jump scare here and there, and Dead Space 3 still has those. I welcome some new gameplay mechanics, like resource management and optional missions. The good really does outweigh the bad in this game, and should be played by Dead Space fans regardless of the few flaws it has. I definitely suggest playing this game with a friend, because my co-op experience was quite fun at times. While not perfect, it’s one for the collection and one that deserves more respect than some people give it.
I give Dead Space 3 a 3/5