The first Dead Space was amazing. It not only filled the hole left in my gaming life when Resident Evil stopped being Survival Horror, but the strategic dismemberment was fresh, and I spent most of it shitting my pants with no ammo.
EA clearly smelt a franchise, and wanted to open it up to a wider audience. Cue Dead Space 2 and more of a focus on action. It was still a great game, but I was gutted that I was losing my survival horror again.
So now we have the third entry, and with it further diversification from what initially made the franchise so popular. Fortunately my expectations were more appropriately set this time. I spent most of the game quite happy, skulking along corridors, dismembering more nasty necromorphs, and finding out what ‘make us whole’ means.
There’s nothing to wrench you out of the mood like a door saying ‘co-op only’
The game is just beautiful, standing on the shoulders of its prequels to become one of the shining examples of graphical detail this generation. Isaac’s HUD still remains as strong a design point as ever, though the eyes of all the characters can look a bit dead at times. Ice planet Tau Volantis makes for a good change in scenery, and those worried about a lack of tight corridors have nothing to worry about.
The gameplay is pretty much the same, with several big additions. The first is co-op. I played the game in single player, so can’t go far into it. But there’s nothing to wrech you out of the mood of a game like a door saying ‘co-op only’. Boo. The second change is you now build your weapons at the bench as opposed to buying them. Now this was at first confusing but I grew to really like it; and I soon ended up with a weapon that perfectly suited my play style.
Last but not least, we have human enemies. They aren’t stupid, taking cover and trying to rush me, but their frailty compared to necros makes them easier enemies.
So it’s got the looks and it’s got the moves. So why am I still disappointed?
Realising I could buy copious amounts of ammunition, allied to my already finely-honed dismemberment skills, made things pretty easy. Some perseverance was required at times, but really you should pop this one on hard straight away.
It’s a shame that Isaac seems far more switched on and less unhinged this time. Something has been lost in his transformation from troubled engineer to all action hero. The voice acting throughout is great, but I can’t shake a feeling that Isaac should have stayed silent.
These problems can be worked around. The final and biggest problem cannot. A story full of padding,
It took me roughly 12 hours to complete the 19 chapters on normal difficulty. At least 6 chapters could have been cut and you wouldn’t have lost anything whilst gaining a tighter story. Sadly the ending is rubbish too, lacking the payoff I expected after three games.
At this point I’ll touch briefly on the DLC, Awakened, which manages to both rip you off and spoil what came before Not only does it recycle old areas, but it’s clichéd to hell. The ending that not only sets up more games, but makes the main campaign feel pointless.
If Dead Space 3 is a sign of how things are going, then I have concerns. Like Resident Evil before, it became popular through a mix of clever design, interesting story and edge of your seat survival horror. If anything Dead Space did it better in places. However, history is repeating itself, and this franchise is also attempting to branch out and cover more demographics, much to its detriment.
Dead Space 3 is far from a bad game. It’s a graphical showcase, and I don’t complete games in a week if I don’t enjoy playing them. But the franchise is forgetting what made it awesome in the first place.