Dead Space 3 Review

Dead Space 3 Review
PS3, XBOX360, PC
By Janus 32

Introduction

Isaac Clarke and newcomer John Carver

Isaac Clarke and newcomer John Carver

Electronic Arts’s Visceral Games is a name that most gamers should know, whether they are veterans of the Survival Horror genre or just newbies stepping in for the first time. The series has gathered fans due to its very grotesque enemies and the all-important ‘Scare factor’, since the Resident Evil series seems to be lacking in that department as of late (like…5 years or more late). It has its scares, and has its monsters but has a very very complete story of an unlucky engineer by the name of Isaac Clarke who just happened to have volunteered for the wrong mission primarily to save his girlfriend.

Since Dead Space 2, gamers have been wondering if there would be a 3rd game or would it just end at just as a sequel. Though shortly after its release there was a leak of the Dead Space 3 game shown by a TV show in Israel. It piqued a lot of interest, and of course the rumours were spread. How could this be? Why so soon? Is this a real report? And Israel Television? Either way, some time had passed and only at E3 2012 was there a proper announcement and a demo showing of the game. Though not unexpected, the reveal was great to witness as the demo showed a large boss fight, in which Isaac eventually is ingested by a large monster. But also there was gameplay of co-op where Isaac teams up with another character similarly dressed as him.

But with each Dead Space there is change. The original only was purely a single player affair, in Dead Space 2 there was a multiplayer element, and now the formula has changed again.

Will the latest instalment be the cream of the crop for the franchise? Or is this another space adventure that’s should be left alone…in space…forever?

Story

The planets that inhabit colonies of humans are in peril.

The discovery and the tragedies that occurred on the planet Titan, specifically on “The Sprawl” have led to catastrophic events that could lead to the extinction of the human race. Multiple colonies have been exterminated by the cult group named “The Unitologists” who have been firm believers of the mysterious artefact, the “Markers” but have now under a new leadership turned brutal. The Unitologists have been relentless in their attack. Their slaughtering has been so clinical and methodical, that they have opposed and thinned out the ranks of the authorities that govern those worlds, which is EarthGov (Earth Government), the keepers of the peace.

Their firm belief is to wipe out humans for the coming of the judgement day in which that the Markers will provide divine retribution and purging of mankind.

It’s (space) terrorism on an intergalactic scale.

Amongst the chaos is engineer Isaac Clarke.

"Hello? Exterminator on scene"

“Hello? Exterminator on scene”

Clarke has not fully recovered from his ordeal since the events of the Sprawl, let alone his first discovery of the Markers since the USG Ishimura failed rescue operation. He has been hiding trying to cope with everything that has happened on another city where peace is still stable.

Unfortunately things get worse.

Clarke is found at gunpoint by EarthGov forces and is given one option.
To find his ex-girlfriend, Ellie Langford who was on a mission and has now gone missing. With no choice, Clark complies…

Gameplay

As a third in a trilogy, Dead Space 3 has predominantly achieved a lot of new features and seamlessly integrated them into this latest instalment. A couple of firsts is the upgrade to the bench. The bench in past games was able to upgrade your kinesis modules and stasis modules. Kinesis and Stasis where your pull and push forces that you can do over long distances. Like the force…just but tangible. At the bench you could increase the strength, longevity and reach for both these modules. But now, the bench is a tool to craft weapons…LOTS of weapons. When you used to pick up blueprints for weapons in the last few games, they were just for a pre-built weapon, there was no customizations whatsoever. But now? Its plentiful and each weapon you craft from scratch or craft from a picked up blueprint, you can vary and change at your will. It’s a crazy amount to swap out and change.

The Bench, where Isaac or Carver can craft their weapons. Though both characters only can carry two weapons at a time in this installment

The Bench, where Isaac or Carver can craft their weapons. Though both characters only can carry two weapons at a time in this installment

Such examples? As many would remember, there was only one type of automatic rifle which was the pulse rifle, now there are semi-automatic carbines and automatic carbines. With these weapons the old favourites like the contact beam, force gun and plasma cutter can be made and enhanced for maximum damage. For those who don’t know the infamous weapons as aforementioned, Isaac Clarke was an engineer, he’s no soldier so he built weapons of an engineering perspective that were in the Dead Space world just as ordinary maintenance tools that could cut through rock and such.

Each weapon can have ‘Booster Circuits’. These circuits act as a conduit for four different attributes. For Damage, Reload time, Magazine size and Rate of fire. Maximizing these attributes of course will be easier to take out your enemies in the harder difficulties. You can also pimp out your weapons with other weapon attachments. From scopes, to under barrelled shotguns, grenade launchers, change of ammo to acid rounds, flame rounds, electrical rounds and the list goes on.

Tread softly for I carry a big gun

Tread softly for I carry a ri-DICULOUSLY big gun

Though what is a bit of a change from the previous Dead Space’s is replaying stages once completing them straight away. Though in its predecessors replaying of levels only happened after you completed the game first. This unfortunately promotes grinding, because as the levels grow longer and harder to deal with and enemies are plentiful, it’s imperative to customize your weapons. But when you grind, it breaks up the story and the atmosphere of the game. It’s like Devil May Cry, grinding to be stronger for the next level can detract players because it halt’s fluidity for the game. It’s entirely up to the player how they will approach this, but on my initial play-through, I never repeated/grinded any levels.

What is missing, and this could be a good thing, is the multiplayer aspect. In Dead Space 2, it was introduced that human soldiers would go up against Necromorphs on varied maps. 4 VS 4 matches where Necromorphs would stop the human players from completing objectives. Teams would interchange 2 rounds between 1 game. It was not that great. So for Dead Space 3, it is noticeably absent and the only multiplayer aspect is 2 player co-operative play.

Isaac Clarke is joined by Sergeant John Carver. Carver is an EarthGov soldier who accompanies Isaac on his mission if you do co-op play. He is one without his own demons. Carver is a no-nonsense soldier, and he has the same attributes to Isaac, he has access to the same weapons but does have different suits available to him. But what players will come to understand other than the missions that is assigned to Isaac is there are co-op missions that Carver can do with Isaac, but only if he is present. If you play solo, no co-op missions are offered. What’s also interesting is if you play as Carver or Isaac, perspectives are different. If Carver can see something such as a hallucination, only he can see it and Isaac will see nothing, just see Carver losing his mind. The same is vice versa.

The face of Sergeant John Carver. Isaac's co-op partner character.

The face of Sergeant John Carver. Isaac’s co-op partner character. A soldier for EarthGov, Carver has his own demons and personal issues that conflict in his mind, and will soon discover just how powerful the Markers are and what damage they can do to his psyche

Presentation

Dead Space 3 comes into presentation…almost like its predecessors. Mostly the colours that are used for space, traversing derelict ships are of a dark colour. When there is no light, which is 90% of the time, there is barely anything gratifying to really gawk at. But the vastness of space, the world of Tau Volantis make up for that. In the early stages of the campaign, players need to travel between derelict ships and the scene is just outside of the planet Tau Volantis, a desolate planet that is covered white in snow. You could compare it to the Star Wars planet of Hoth from the movie The Empire Strikes Back.

In space, no one can see your best Iron Man impersonation

In space, no one can see your best Iron Man impersonation

The level of detail to environments is quite impressive. Especially when you have to go through bulkhead doors. You can actually see the gears working and spewing out steam as they crank open. That’s a really nice touch. The suits that you can attain and the weapons, as hard as it is to see from a third perspective view, are detailed as well. They are not at all as the modern day weaponry as of course the Dead Space timeline is several hundred years into the future. But creating and modifying weapons at the bench looks impressive albeit it’s a little hard to get used to with the user interfaces and switching between the varied options of upgrading or adding attachments to weaponry.

Your enemies, which are the Necromorphs of course are more detailed and more grotesque as ever. Though invariably the models have changed, the animations for most of your enemies if you get into a close quarters button mashing escape scenario still remains the same. The babies that had tentacles from Dead Space 1 and 2 are not babies anymore, they’re something I cannot accurately describe, kinda look animalistic but either way animations are the same where Isaac pulls the tentacles out and drop kicks the creature. It’s brutal, but always gets a laugh out of me.

The suits that Isaac wears and can change into are very very detailed. Every little bit such as the visor changing when going into outer space to increasing armour points, it’s unbelievable the detail the suits have and it was one of the primary things I strived for in the franchise, to collect the suits I mean. Not only did they look cool and they were sleek, the upgrading of them was even better as they turned into something completely different if you maxed out on the upgrades.

You can actually get the N7 Suit from Mass Effect. How to get it?...well we can't say. You have to discover that yourself

You can actually get the N7 Suit from Mass Effect. How to get it?…well we can’t say. You have to discover that yourself

The cinematics for Dead Space 3 invoke more emotion, and they have levelled up on the quality than its past games. From the non-speaking Isaac Clarke from Dead Space 1 to the on the fly meetings of Dr. Stross and Ellie Langford, Clarke has so much more of an active role. He says what he needs to say, he says what he thinks at certain moments that really do just make him, the hero that was not to be in this situation. The voice acting and the dialogue has never been campy, it’s always been straight edged and quite serious, but a hint of very dark humour times. Dead Space 3 has continued that and though this is not a refreshing mention of it, it’s great to mention because it has continued to have great writing.

Accompanying the cinematics is the music, When enemies break vents to attack to the when the characters banter to each other, it does very well to make its point. Every situation has the right amount of music to further instil chills and goosebumps. Jason Graves and James Hannigan co-compose the music for Dead Space 3. Jason Graves has been in the Dead Space franchise from the beginning as he did the scores for Dead Space 1, 2 and Dead Space Extraction, James Hannigan comes in as a first timer but hails from works such as Runescape, Brute Force and Transformers Universe. Both men have collaborated great scores to show that fear is in the heart of a silent abyss such as space.

Final Comments

For what looks to be the last one for the franchise, the game certainly has come to a conclusion and it seems closure has been done as well. It’s a very mature and serious game, albeit there is dark humour involved. Veteran Dead Space players will feel right at home with this instalment as well as comfortable with the new game features. Though those that are new, this is a game that can be enjoyed as a standalone game, but as with any franchise, it does not hurt to experience its predecessors for the full story.

Taking down the terror, just one of the enemies that Isaac and Carver will face

Taking down the terror, just one of the enemies that Isaac and Carver will face

Get it
Borrow it
Forget it

Get it. It’s just too hard to pass up for a franchise that still can provide scares and chills in a gaming world where fear isn’t widely adopted as opposed to action genre type games of today. We challenge you to play the game in the dark with headphones and moderately high sound. That should get your heart rate going.

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