Dead Space came out of nowhere. It proved that in the days of Call of Duty and the other mega franchises, there was still space for a genuinely new and exciting series of games.
With the original Dead Space developer Visceral Games made a name for itself in the survival horror genre. With Dead Space 2, it scared us even more and now, with Dead Space 3, it's looking to nail the shooter crowd as well. But will this slight twist in formula ruin the experience? Or is Dead Space 3 a worthy addition to the series?
The story in Dead Space 3 is the weakest part of the game. By the end of Dead Space 2 things were getting complicated enough and, personally, we think the third game suffers simply because of the weak plot it had to pick up from.
The whole concept of Dead Space revolves around "markers" - big, bright-red, glowing statues that do rather nasty things to the human beings in their vicinity. These markers create something called Necromorphs, which are what end up causing the majority of problems for Isaac Clarke, the protagonist.
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In the first game, Isaac clears out his space ship, the Ishimura, of Necromorphs, but loses his girlfriend in the process. In the second, Isaac is suffering after all the horrible stuff he has witnessed on board the Ishimura and begins to go mad. The markers return and a church, called Unitology, grows up around them.
The Unitolygists believe in a supreme being, created by the markers, and will stop at nothing to spread their evil ways. In Dead Space 3, markers have been established all over the universe and Isaac is tasked with putting a stop to them, while hunting for his ex-girlfriend and dealing with hordes of armed Unitologysts in the process. The problem is that Dead Space moves on so quickly that each pause for a bit of storytelling feels unnecessary. In reality, the storyline created in the first and second games has been taken as far as it can go.
Dead Space has always been about clever ways of killing things. The games have a finely balanced weapon set that encourages you to form your own play style with a few of them, in order to beat the bad guys. Each weapon does different kinds of damage to enemies, some in the form of blowing off limbs, others in blowing everyone up. Now, in Dead Space 3, you build those weapons.
Ammo is no longer an issue and enemies are far more numerous. The survival horror element of Dead Space has very much been put on the back burner, replaced with action-packed gameplay that puts you on a roller-coaster ride of a single player experience.
We adored the gameplay in the first two Dead Space games. We loved the feeling of zero gravity in the first, or in being able to float about in space in the second. The corridor shooting from the previous games has returned, but now the scare factor has gone, to be replaced with a much bigger and badder shooting experience.
In Dead Space 3, perhaps slightly because of fade factor, we're used to the grotesque looks of the necromorphs, but the scares just aren’t there anymore. Dead Space 3 is what Aliens was to the original Alien: just as enjoyable, but in a totally different way.
Now gameplay is all about building the most-powerful Isaac Clarke possible and inflicting as much damage to the necromorphs as you can. You're not on the back foot in Dead Space 3, you are on the attack.
Gun creation is at the core of all this, where you craft weapons out of multiple parts that you collect in the game. Get it right and you will easily deal with the large number of enemies thrown at you. Crank up the difficulty though and you will need to start putting together weapons for all different situations.
On top of the gun crafting, the number of set pieces in the game has been increased heavily. There are elements of Uncharted going on in Dead Space 3, with the start of the game particularly being jaw-droppingly mad.
Co-op offers a nice twist on the conventional formula and ensures that you get the most from all the game has to offer. Some moments are clearly crafted for two players, while at other times the game is entirely single player focused. Either way, playing through Dead Space with a friend is fun.
We really are at the end of the lifespan of current generation consoles and whatever graphical wizardry has been worked in Dead Space 3 really beggars belief.
This is a stunning-looking game from start to finish, with incredibly varied environments, cutting-edge lighting and a brilliant art style. The change from the early cityscapes to the vast expanses of space is impressive and the isolation felt in the snow sections is unlike anything we have experienced in games before.
We enjoyed Dead Space 3. The second game in the series had us falling off our seat with fright; this one had us stuck to it with its intense action sequences.
Dead Space 3 is a different game. It has gone the way of the big-bucks franchises and, to its detriment, lost a lot of the excitement of the survival horror of the previous games.
But there is no ignoring the production values, looks and addictiveness of the gun crafting. Add in new game plus the option to make an even beefier Isaac after a second or third play-through and this is a game worth picking up.