Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Mitch Reviews: Dead Space 3




Does Dead Space 3 still play off of scares and thrills or is it now completely bang-bang pew-pew? Read on to see if Dead Space still has what it takes to force you to invest in new underwear.

Story

Dead Space 3 follows series protagonist Isaac Clarke as he is once again called on to fight Necromorphs and end the Markers existence, being the only person who knows how to create and destroy them after events witnessed in 2.

The story is engrossing and well-paced with much more dialogue and characters than in the previous titles. You follow Isaac as he sets out on a journey to save Ellie, his now ex-girlfriend from the second game, with co-op partner John Carver and a handful of other characters including Ellie’s new boyfriend, Robert Norton, captain of the rescue mission.

With Isaac being the only person who can destroy the Markers and has the most experience with Necromorphs, but unwilling to to do so as he wants to be rid of the nightmares, issues and strain that they have put on his personal life, it makes for an extremely interesting game to see how Isaac copes with the threat of dying, of losing Ellie and of losing his mind.

Gameplay

With the standard spiel consisting of ‘dismember this, dismember that’, it is easy to see why people think that the series has taken a more action-orientated approach. Sadly, the marketing has not done the game justice as the frights and gruesome-looking Necromorphs are still present and the entire game is very reminiscent of Dead Space 2 and, though I know I may be in the minority, I believed this to be the stronger title over the first installment.

Missing is the clunkiness of its predecessors which has now been replaced by a much more robust and smoother feeling method of gameplay, allowing you to crouch and roll to evade charging Necromorphs, gun-wielding humans and those hugely irritating dog-like Necromorphs who stalk you from behind cover. This adds a new layer of depth which was missing from the original Dead Space titles and now battles feel much more frantic and fast-paced as you’ll be rolling around to avoid being cut in half or from having your head blown off by enemy fire.

Weapon crafting is the newly introduced feature that is on everybody's tongue at the moment, allowing you to create and upgrade weapons by collecting materials strewn around the levels, or achieved by completing side-missions. This works really well and allows you to experiment with some crazy ideas such as equipping a mini flamethrower to a high-tech pistol handed to you at the beginning of the game but sadly, you will have to play through several repetitive side-missions consisting of killing many Necromorphs to collect the loot at the end.

Sadly, puzzles are still as easy as they were in previous titles, relying on enemies to make things harder for you rather than a mind-boggling puzzle that rewards you for solving it. The most common offender of these being sections when you are forced to use your Kinesis to move things into position just to have several Necromorphs attack you because they are clearly shocked that you would dare move their beautiful arrangements.

Graphics

The first thing I noticed was how well animated facial expressions are because, despite how well they were in the second installment, they were still fairly clunky and stiff. This has added a new layer of realism that benefits the game as it allows you to grow more attached to the characters and Isaac’s plight to save Ellie.

The art is gorgeous and aids in helping the atmosphere to unsettle you as there are many bloody walls, abandoned areas where life had previously clearly bustled and the new planet, Tau Volantis, which adds a snowy area to break up the dank, gloomy areas that are found on stranded spaceships. Sadly, Tau Volantis is a mostly wide, plain stretch of land and whilst the snow looks good, I think more time should have been spent on making Tau Volantis a much more memorable planet as it seems that scares were traded for snow.

Necromorphs look repulsive as expected with their elongated limbs, bloody bodies and all the tiny little details that make them look as if they’ve crawled straight out from within your nightmares. Sadly, you’ll be too busy trying to kill them or run away due to lack of ammo that you won’t be able to focus on what makes Necromorphs so terrifying but hopefully, if you can stop yourself from stomping on them for a few seconds, you’ll be able to see what makes them stand out and it may help you to put yourself in Isaac’s position, to see what he’s really fighting against.

Audio

Every horror game worth its money needs a captivating atmosphere aided by eerie sounds and a bone-chilling musical score. Luckily, Dead Space oozes atmosphere and its partially thanks to the great audio where you’ll hear Necromorphs scuttle through vents, weak moans from around corners and music that tells you that something is going to happen and, though you expect it, it doesn’t lessen the fright.

A great horror game should make you hesitate from turning a corner or entering a room due to the frightening sounds beyond, something that the Dead Space series has always excelled at, and I’d recommend that if you’re playing this at night, alone, that you keep a spare set of underwear with you.

Lasting Appeal

My first playthrough of the campaign lasted 9 hours and 55 minutes with various side-missions finished but there were still several to do once I had finished; they were interesting enough for me to re-visit Tau Volantis and the dark corridors of abandoned spaceships.

The main reason to re-visit Dead Space 3 will be to replay the game again in co-op, which delves deeper into Carver’s story and further establishes his character, or to retrieve all collectibles such as audio logs, text logs, etc, to gather all the trophies/achievements.

I recommend Dead Space 3 to fans of the series, especially the second title, as it is a highly enjoyable, tense and thrilling ride with a satisfying climax.



Mitchell is a freelance journalist and senior moderator at Playfire. You can find more of his work at http://mitchjay92.blogspot.co.uk/ or contact him at www.playfire.com/mitchjay1992. He's also got quite a few other reviews here.

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