Game Name: Dead Space 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Visceral Games
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Players: Solo, with two player content
Rating: M (for Mature)
Retail Price: $41.99
Category: Third person science fiction horror/survival shooter
I know people are seeing reviews all over the board for Dead Space 3. Some reviewers are saying it’s a terrible game while others claim it is a must have in their gaming collection. While the third installment in the Dead Space franchise isn’t a perfect game it is, in at least my opinion, much closer to the arena of a title deserving a place in your collection as opposed to given a flyer.
What DS3 does well, it does very well and what it doesn’t do with aplomb still isn’t game breaking.
Where DS3 shines is in the combat and overall presentation while providing great pulse pounding action segments. The collecting of items, in which to build better ways to tackle the Necromorphs and their masters, is addictive while the new co-op gameplay is a welcome addition as well. The sound and music are excellent and compliment the package to the extreme.
Where Dead Space 3 stumbles in is poor story – something wherein the whole series has unfortunately suffered – as there just doesn’t seem to ever be enough meat on those bones. The nineteen episodes play out, well… episodically, and there’s simply too much grind with repetitive errand running. Add to this the fact the PS3 edition doesn’t run as smooth as the X-Box 360 or PC editions so there are some road bumps in proclaiming Dead Space 3 as the new king of horror/action.
I believe in keeping reviews as spoiler free as possible so I’ll only set the scene for the latest entry in the Dead Space franchise: Once again space engineer John McCain *ahem* Issac Clarke finds himself in yet another situation which puts his back against the wall thus forcing himself to the forefront of the story. While the game can be thoroughly enjoyed through the single player experience, the inclusion of a second playable character actually makes for a better game. This is unfortunate because DS3 isn’t advertised as being substantially different being played with one or two players. The reality is the game is different with someone taking on the role of the newly included second player. This new character is John Carver and many of the missions exclusive to a two player game are some of the best you’ll find in DS3. This isn’t to say the single player game suffers but having two players adds more to the fun you’ll have as there’s more to glean from the story by having someone take on Carver’s role.
I’m sure plenty of folks will be disappointed Dead Space 3 moves more firmly into the realm of action/adventure as opposed to horror/survival. Gone are the creeping, stealthy horrors and this time around the enemies come right at you at a dead sprint – pun intended – so it’s shoot, shoot, shoot. I understand the style shift in the hopes of appealing to a much larger audience, as that tends to be what any self-respecting game development studio like Visceral wants to aim for. If this means taking the series in a different direction I really do get it; in other ways Dead Space 3 seems like a throwback to the first release in the series though missing a final layer of polish. I have the impression much of the budget on this project was invested in presentation as opposed to tackling new mechanics driving more toward the diehard fan base which put Dead Space on the map.
None of this makes Dead Space 3 a bad game.
Combat is a blast (especially with two players), building you own weapons and tweaking equipment is addictive, while action set pieces are top notch and engrossing. The presentation rocks and draws you in, even with the lack luster storyline, and still provides some pretty good scares.
The reality is DS3 is a lot of fun, although it seems as if somewhere the development direction added more to stand in the way of creating a true classic in video gaming that it should. Or in other words, all the fun you’ll have with DS3 almost feels as if it’s a bit in spite of the game itself. Rather than investing in pushing the envelope in all areas, the focus seems to have been more toward making the title appealing to the general gaming public and that takes the game away from its roots.