My review of Dead Space 3 is a bit late compared to everyone else’s—with good reason. I love the franchise. But Dead Space 3 doesn’t feel like a Dead Space game and it took me awhile to decide whether or not that was a good thing.
Dead Space 3 involves series protagonist Isaac Clarke’s determination to learn the origins of the Marker and how the Necromorphs can be stopped once and for all. Some questions will be answered, while others are left unresolved. Isaac will travel across the galaxy, eventually landing on Tau Volantis, where he faces subzero conditions, some of the biggest Necromorphs he’s ever faced and crazed Unitologist soldiers intent on using the Markers.
Sure—most of what you’ve come to expect in a Dead Space game is here. It’s a third person game, with your health and stasis meter are shown directly on your character. You’ll traverse within some zero gravity segments – my favorite level in the entire game involved one you did in space, outside of a number of half-destroyed ships – and even have to deal with sub-zero temperatures.
You’ll eventually start to feel like you’re playing a Mass Effect game, however. Especially since once you get on the planet of Tau Volantis, you’ll leave behind the cramped, darkened corridors that made previous Dead Space games so scary in the first place. Necromancers just aren’t as scary when I have places to run other than backwards.
Ammo is rarely a problem you need to worry about and I never once came close to running out of room in my inventory. When I did come close to running out of ammo or medkits, I built more at nearby work benches. (More on that in a second.) There were never a commodity and at times, it felt like I was playing an action game as opposed to a horror game. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad game—it just means it didn’t feel like a Dead Space game.
Developers also chose to highlight Isaac’s background as an engineer in Dead Space 3. Chief among his new talents is weapon crafting. You can craft new weapons or upgrade your existing ones based on parts you’ll find throughout the levels—in addition to crafting ammo and medkits.
I wound up never getting rid of my two original weapons. Instead, I upgraded them over and over again as I found better spare parts. By the end of the game, my plasma cutter – my go-to weapon in other games – could shoot bullets or acid (originally fire) depending on how I fired it.
I tended to just mess around with the weapons crafting to find what worked best for me, but you can use existing blueprints if you want and don’t feel like experimenting. Depending on what parts you choose, you can decide what your weapon spits out (bullets or fire), the accuracy, the spread or the speed, whether it heals your partner as it’s being fired, damage effectiveness and more.
One of the biggest complaints of fans and critics was the announcement that players could use “micro-transactions” consisting of real-world money to upgrade their weapons or suit. I never once had a desire nor a need in my play-through. Instead, look at that as an option to level up faster, not as a necessity.
Dead Space 3 is also the first in the series to feature drop-in/drop-out co-op. I didn’t get a chance to experience any of it myself, so I rarely saw the co-op character John Carver. But, even in single player, you happily don’t get stuck with a lame AI version of Carver. Instead, if you choose to have a friend play as him, you’ll then see him pop up more in cut scenes and gameplay scenarios.
It’s a smart move on the developers part and I hope to find some time in the near future to experience it—especially since some side missions require a co-op partner and Carver has his own backstory that involves losing a wife and son to the Necromorph infestation.
Kinect is also supported in this game, but I didn’t get a chance to use it. It’s for voice commands and allows you to “find objective,” “find bench,” “reload weapon” and more.
Dead Space 3 is quite a good action game—even if it felt like the game was long for superfluous reasons, mostly in that you had to repeat through old levels just to pick up some new object you suddenly needed. It just may not be the horror game most fans would come to expect from the franchise. But if story answers and taking down Necromancers is all you care about, you’ll likely be quite ok with the changes and overall happy with the resulting game.
Dead Space 3 is out now for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.
* Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review. *