Poor Isaac Clark, after Dead Space 2 you would think he would get a bit of a break, but the Necromorphs are back and he is the only one who can save us. Despite doing his best to move on, his past always seems to catch up with him, it doesn’t help that he is the only person with the ability to destroy the ‘markers’ that are scattered around the galaxy. For those not in the know theses ‘markers’ are huge constructions that convert humans into mutated aliens.
Clark is now living in a Blade Runner style city in a pokey little apartment with only his thoughts to keep him company until he is rudely interrupted by Captain Robert Norton and Sergeant John Carver who are intent on dragging him back into action. A team has gone missing on Tau Volantis, an ice planet which could hold the key to destroying the markers once and for all. Clark isn’t interested until he hears that his ex-girlfriend Ellie is one of the people who have gone missing. With that they head off only to be hunted down by armed Unitologists led by a bond-style villain called Danik. They are also after Issac and think nothing of destroying everything in his path. There is a big shift in game style that hardened Dead Space players will notice straight away, all of a sudden you can take cover and barrel roll when need to evade grenades, thankfully it’s not long before things return to normal in the game; you’ll progress through a series of creepy spaceships with things threatening to go off at any moment.
There are still moments in the game that will make you jump and there are certainly moments where you feel like you might not make it through the area at all. This time around there is a much larger cast of characters, which takes away from the solitary feel the previous game gave us, the in-fighting begins almost straight away between Isaac and Captain Robert Norton as they both battle for the Alpha male crown and a certain Ellie.
In the previous games there was something about scraping around for the tiniest bit of ammo to keep us alive, but that really isn’t a problem in Dead Space 3. You now have the ability to scavenge scrap to enable you to upgrade your weapons on the workbenches, not only that you can now craft brand new weapons. A plasma cutter that fires grenades? Why not! It’s a great system and I spent a long time coming up with different creations. Within the workbench you can also craft new items such as med packs or ammo, you can also create Tungsten Torque Bars that will give you access to those rooms full of goodies to help you on your way. As in previous games you upgrade your rig and those upgrades carry across to any extra suits you come across in the game.
Of course the big controversy in Dead Space 3 was that EA have introduced micro-transactions, it’s worth pointing out that you can play through the game without ever needing to buy extra resources, and to be fair it isn’t intrusive either. If you don’t have the gear it will tell you there are not enough resources available and at the bottom of that screen there is an option to view the DLC. On one hand it’s annoying that you pay £40 for a game and you still need to buy things but in reality it’s there for those who want a quick a fix (but you really don’t need to use it ok?)
Combat is still as entertaining as it always was in dead space, taking out those limbs is all important as well making use of stasis to slow enemies down to get those vital extra seconds to get your shots in. My favourite is the ability to use kinesis to throw explosives or even other dead enemies’ limbs back at my opponents. Of course there is the stomping on enemies, that sound will never leave me. Despite the fact you still can’t shoot from the hip, it’s one of my favourite combat systems on the Xbox.
As good as the combat is, the missions themselves are not much different from what you may have played in the previous titles. There are a few new puzzle sections that break up the gameplay, as well as some great anti-gravity sections which nicely fit into the gameplay but at times the game felt a bit too predictable. What’s that? A door that seems to be jammed, whatever could be coming next? The introduction of optional missions is a nice touch and result in some useful resources that you can make good use of.
Dead Space 3 introduces co-op for the first time and despite my initial doubts it proves to be great fun, your co-op partner comes in as John Carver and as expected enemies become more difficult but you do get plenty of new dialogue and you learn about his tragic past, which he eludes to at the beginning of the game, before telling you that he isn’t your friend and walking off, whatever. It would be nice for those who won’t access the co-op to be able to play those missions with Carver in the future as it was a really enjoyable experience.
The presentation has certainly taken a step forward this time around, the set pieces from the Blade Runner style city that was Isaac’s home to the familiar haunted corridors of an abandoned space station all look fantastic and the soundtrack and effects that accompany the game all create an amazing atmosphere. I was impressed with the way the game wrestles the control from you as you enter a cut scene, those who have played Uncharted will already find this very familiar.
I really enjoyed my time with Dead Space 3, I enjoyed the change in direction it took though I miss the fact it’s not as much of a survival-horror anymore. The game has certainly opened itself up to new players but may have alienated their original fan base.