Gaming

Review: Dead Space 3

Isaac Clarke, the friendly neighbourhood engineer  who slices monsters in half and finds himself in the most unfortunate situations, is back again in the new instalment of the Dead Space series. Dead Space 3 continues the traditional 3rd person action/horror/survival genre familiar to the series, and is darker, more visually pleasing, and comes with its own adrenaline pumping moments.

The Unitologists -a religious cult whose members worships alien markers which turn people in to ‘Necromorphs’ (Undead, grotesque mutants) – have decided that humanity has had a good run and needs to end. Isaac’s apartment is barged into by two soldiers, who pull Isaac into yet another adventure; this time to save his ex-girlfriend who is missing near the frozen planet of Tau Volaris.

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Dead Space 3 delivers solid entertainment, with clear improvements on its predecessors, which manage to be both traditional and fresh. The game plays on Isaac’s engineering background, allowing you to upgrade, improve and even construct your own mutant-killing weapons using salvaged parts and scrap metal.  Dead Space 3 has become more of a third-person action game through its dumbing down of the survival aspect. There are an abundance of resources, allowing you to craft huge numbers of health-packs and ammo. At the same time, these resources are needed to upgrade your armour and health, so there’s an interesting balancing act behind the game. Do you save for that permanent health upgrade, or splash out on some ammo?

Dead Space 3 has become more of a third-person action game through its dumbing down of the survival aspect.

A new addition for the series is the co-op mode which allows you to push through hordes of deadly mutants with a mate to back you up.  Even some of the weapon upgrades are specifically designed to be used in co-op play, allowing you to share health or ammo. The gameplay isn’t entirely similar between each of the characters though;  in one example, your co-op partner Carver will have to fight off enemies in his mind as he experiences a mental breakdown, while Isaac defends his physical body from an onslaught of enemies. Things like this make you feel dependent on your buddy, opposed to being an army of two blasting through your foes.

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The game encourages and rewards exploration with bonus resources and items- if you dare to venture from the main path! Some timed puzzle challenges keep you on your toes and work to add a feeling of complexity when hacking a door or bypassing a security system, instead of just pressing a button.

One of the points I have to make is that while playing Dead Space 3 it felt like the developers expected me to have played the previous games of the series, as some gameplay mechanics and unique mutants have a particular way to be taken down, which isn’t explained. It can occasionally feel like you’re just pushed right in to the action without much explanation.

The game encourages and rewards exploration with bonus resources and items- if you dare to venture from the main path!

The variety of mutants is impressive, each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses; as always in Dead Space, limbs are the prime targets, but size and movement speed are factors where each mutant differs.  One of the new enemy additions are the Unitologist soldiers, providing a nice refreshing change of combat style, and sometimes even amusing to observe their pathetic struggle against the Necromorphs. Traditional to the series they usually pop up unexpectedly trying to brutally murder Isaac, but in some cases the ambush points are painfully obvious, and the immersion of the game falters.

The story is strong and well written; it’ll keep you playing to solve the mystery. The occasional optional side missions also offer a slight deviation from the scripted storyline for bonus loot. The ‘New Game +’ mode familiar to the series lets you play on higher difficulties with the weapons and upgrades you’ve collected, so if you’re feeling brave there’s a good opportunity for replayability.

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Dead Space 3 looks fantastic. Ship interiors, the emptiness of space and the frozen planet surface are all masterfully presented. You’ll find yourself spending more time than intended free-floating around space because of how beautiful it looks. The great change of scenery between cramped, claustrophobic halls of derelict ships, to picturesque, colourful space scenes and heavy, freezing blizzards on the planet surface is really impressive.

Dead Space 3, the action/horror/survival game that has turned mostly in to action/horror, continues the series with a well written story, excellent graphics, challenging gameplay and solid game mechanics to tie it all together. The campaign will deliver around 18+ hours of gameplay with heaps of action-packed combat and some scary moments. It’s solid entertainment that you will not be disappointed with.

Star-Rating-4

Richard Lakucs

 

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Image: SpicaGames via Flickr

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