DEAD SPACE 3 REVIEW
Dead Space 3 has been one of my favourite new IPs of the generation. Does the saga of Isaac Clarke end with a bang or a whimper?
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Feb 22, 2013 10:47 (Feb 22, 2013 10:47)
Written by: Ian
Waste of Space?
"Dead Space 3" has been one of my favourite new IPs of the generation. Does the saga of Isaac Clarke end with a bang or a whimper? The game has already had a PR slating prior to release thanks to aggressive microtransactions and the new co-op mode… but does any of that matter when you actually start to play?
I’m one of those people that’s really gotten sucked into the Dead Space fiction. I’ve even watched the DVDs and played the otherwise pretty poor XBLA puzzle game ... and for me, I actually found the story to be perfectly reasonable.
For those of you who prefer shooting though (and judging by the internet reaction, that’s most of you), do be warned that the Markers, Isaac’s love life, and the Unitologists all get more screen time than in the previous games by far. The story is by no means bloated, and for the majority of the middle act there is barely a cut-scene at all- but there is more story, like it or not, and more quasi-religious stuff chucked in throughout.
Two things left me a bit sour though. The ending is ... pretty ‘meh’, neither taking as many liberties as Mass Effect, whilst still managing a fair bit of ridiculousness. The second was the new cast members, especially your crew. They’re all massive jerks, and as a result, you almost feel for the otherwise evil and crazy Danik, excellently voiced by Simon Templeman.
Many people criticised Dead Space 2 for becoming more of a shooter; I didn’t mind so much because it was the combat that made the game so horrifying in the first place. There’s only so many jump scares and monster cupboards that will scare most people anyway, and whilst Dead Space 3 has plenty of them, it’s the sometimes overwhelming odds that really terrified me. Many times you’re genuinely fighting for your life as enemies drop from all around you, taking away all sense of skill and tactics as you fight to stay alive using the tools at your disposal. That core concept still rings true for the most part.
The main problem is that there feels like there is a bit of a lack of imagination- there’s only a couple of new enemy types, and the AI doesn’t really try anything new. There’s also a real problem in some of the level design in the final two acts of the game- endless repetition of the same rooms coupled with plenty of backtracking makes for a game that probably outlives its welcome, despite being a little shorter than the previous 2 games at around 10-12 hours on a first playthrough.
This is a real shame, because when you’re stranded in space on the ship graveyard, the levels, and your progress through them, feels as innovative and well designed as at any point in the series. And there is innovation aplenty in the crafting system as well, which allows you to use the resources to engineer pretty much any gun and series of upgrades that you fancy. This isn’t even ruined by the game’s DLC system (which is, however, unfortunately poorly implemented, advertising itself to you at every opportunity without any good story reason for existing) you’ve heard so much about. By the end of the game I’d crafted a couple of fantastic weapons, and gotten all but 1 of the RIG upgrades. You only need to make reasonable use of your bots to collect more than enough resources (which also have some associated achievements, so you may as well), so DLC is only really there for the lazy. This leaves you with a slightly odd mixed bag- a game that is as refreshing and excellent as you would ever want during the high points, and as derivative and disappointing as the worst cash-in at its lowest.
Thankfully the high points outweigh the low. Out of the 19 chapters, only 3 or 4 involve back-tracking and fighting against human enemies- something which the engine is clearly not comfortable with, whilst ignoring the optional side missions helps avoid much of the feeling of the rooms recycling.