Console: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Players: Single / Co-op
Release Date: 8th February 2013
Developers: Visceral Games
Publishers: Electronic Arts
Genre: 3rd Person Shooter, Horror
“You keep your weapon ready, and you stay the hell away from the ventilation ducts. If they get close, shoot for the limbs. You got that?”
Horror games are everywhere these days, whether they are adaptations of successful movie franchises (Saw) or the sequels/prequels/spin offs of older titles, (Resident Evil, Silent Hill), we’ve seen also sorts of genre crossovers from first person survival horrors, to RPGs, puzzle games and everything in between. Five years ago the first chapter in the Dead Space series began, in 2008 gamers were refreshed with a new horror. So here we are in 2013 and the third instalment has been released to the public but after five years does it still have what it takes to entertain and scare us?
For anyone unfamiliar with the series, you take on the role of Isaac Clarke, a systems Engineer, who finds himself facing off against a terrifying mutation that affects human beings turning them into ‘Necromorphs’. His first encounter occurred on the USG Ishimura, where his girlfriend Nicola Brennan is stationed. What he finds there is the beginning of his nightmare, the ship is infested with horrifying mutants, dead bodies and Isaac begins to feel himself losing a grip on his sanity. Dead Space relied heavily on that fear we all have of what might lie in the dark and shadows and it worked, the game’s survival inspired style of play coupled with a gripping storyline catapulted it into success and we were treated to a second game.
Dead Space 2 saw Isaac return, after barely escaping with his life, the events pushed his psyche too far and Isaac wakes up to find himself institutionalised but not for the right reasons. The Church of Unitology believes the Markers, these obelisks of power (the cause of the Necromorph mutation and insanity) were left by God and they want to know more about them so they use Isaac and the imprint the first Marker left on his mind to construct more. Personally Dead Space 2 didn’t have the same impact the first game had, it felt a little rushed and the horror became too predictable, cheap scares replaced that unsettling fear however the story and plot still remained strong so I was appeased somewhat.
So now we’re up to speed, Dead Space 3 finds Isaac in hiding, his back turned on the world and the horrors that it brings, he has become reclusive until the Unitologists war comes to his doorstep and he is their target. Rescued by one of the last military commands standing, Isaac learns that Elle, his ex-girlfriend and fellow survivor (DS2) has gone missing in search of an answer and cure to the Markers and he is once more dragged back into the world of the darkness, Necromorphs and nightmares.
From the very start Dead Space 3 feels so much better (better probably isn’t the right word when you’re talking about surviving a horror game but you get what I mean!) than Dead Space 2 and feels like it is lifted from the script of the first game but we’ll get back to that.
In terms of graphics, the game is nothing to write home about but it’s not something to give out and tear apart either. The Necromorphs are as twisted and messed up as ever, the addition of dogs that have been mutated by the device is a nice touch. The use of shadows and limited light is present again, with a dirty dark green overlay pressed over the visuals adds to the ambience of picking your way through dilapidated ships and wrecks. While the graphics aren’t really a big plus, the music and audio is and you will find yourself fearing the next time the music hurries and frenzies in alarm, is a Necromorph attack impending or is the game just trying to mess with you?
Controls, now here is something to talk about! Wearing the RIG suit was always meant to be weighty, Isaac clunking his way through dark corridors but with a new suit comes new controls. One of the biggest grievances fans (myself included) was the fact that Isaac couldn’t dodge, if you get swarmed by monsters you either ran frantically hoping they might just trip up over each other, you stand your ground and chuck every last piece of ammunition you were so desperately clinging to for the next boss fight or you faced your very certain and very painful looking death. Now thankfully in Dead Space 3 Clarke or Carver (your Co-op buddy) can roll out of harm’s way, speaking about this addition Visceral Games said that they, “want the horror to come from the terrible things that happen in the game; not from the horror that something is moving slowly towards you and you can’t shoot it because the game controls like a piece of crap”.
The use of the ‘Bench’ returns but I’m not a fan of it – yes upgrading your weapons is rather handy when you need to dispose of oncoming monsters rather quickly but the system is a bit higgledy-piggledy and overly complicated. Enemies and loot boxes will sometimes contain the basics needed to upgrade and revamp the suit and weapons but it just doesn’t seem to work as it throws to much at you and it was something I mostly ignored and doing so didn’t seem to prove a major loss or up the difficulty by any means.
The game plays very similar in terms of challenge and content, you horde ammo and health packs like you’re preparing for the end of the world, you shoot sparingly and stomp loudly on anything that moves with more than four limbs and you clamber to make repairs, combining the use of Stasis powers and some very simple thinking.
Dead Space 3 is Visceral Games return to what they do well, scaring the crap out of gamers and telling a great story. You know the game is scary when you’re reluctant to turn a corner because you can’t see around it properly, it’s dark and the music is whispering terrifying things in the back of your mind, you are almost out of ammunition, how can you fight, how can you survive? Dead Space 3 is a step up from it’s predecessor and a welcome addition to the series, while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the game is entertaining, engaging and more importantly, frightening! Get it today!
Great Story/Character Development
Unnerving ambience works well
Upgrade system is annoying
Rating: 8.5 Necromorph Limbs / 10
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!