Although the Dead Space titles are considered by some to be the premiere survival horror games of this generation, I have to admit that by the end of part 2, I became disinterested. Not that Dead Space 2 was a bad game; far be it. It’s just that the game became repetitive because there wasn’t much variety to be found. Thankfully, Dead Space 3 is nothing like that. Even though you’ll still be primarily killing monsters in creepy locations, there are enough new elements that keep the game feeling fresh. Dead Space 3 has definitely reinvigorated the franchise.
In Dead Space 3, the troubled protagonist Isaac Clarke is out to end the necromorph threat once and for all. To do this, he must travel to an ice planet called Tau Volantis to find and destroy the device which is responsible for creating the undead monstrosities. He won’t be alone in his mission as Isaac now has back up from a marine named Carver. The two must work together to prevent disaster from befalling not only the human race but potentially all life in the galaxy.
Combat in Dead Space 3 isn’t too dissimilar from its predecessors. Your main foes are the necromorphs who are best disposed of by dismembering their limbs. In addition to necromorphs, you’ll also have to deal with human opponents. The enemies are a lot more aggressive and numerous this time around but thankfully, Isaac now has the ability to roll out of danger. He’s still a bit on the slow side so using a stasis field (which slows foes down) will also help him survive. While combat basics remain largely the same, the expanded arsenal helps add variety to the way enemies are dealt with.
Dead Space 3 lets you create your own weapons by using materials found scattered throughout the game. There are robots that you can send out to find materials as well. Since Isaac is an engineer, this mechanic feels natural. Crafting your own weapons and modifying existing ones is probably the coolest thing about the game. Seeing enemies burn, melt or be electrified by different weapon mods never gets old. The game throws so many upgrades and materials at you that you won’t need to worry about ever creating anything useless. If you’re unhappy with what you’ve created, you can always remove attachments or completely disassemble your weapons. This freedom lets you experiment till your heart’s content. I should also note that if you’re impatient (or don’t have the time) that you can buy materials with actual real world money. This seems a bit sleazy but since you aren’t FORCED to buy anything then I can let it slide.
Besides weapon crafting, the other big addition to the Dead Space franchise is co-op. Co-op works so well in this game that I think it’s the best way to actually play Dead Space 3. Some of the cut scenes don’t make a lot of sense when played alone but in co-op they do. Both the single player and co-op campaigns are essentially the same but the game just feels complete when played with another player. Depending on which character you use in co-op, you’ll both see different things. Both Clarke and Carver are under the marker’s influence independently so if one of them starts hallucinating, the other won’t see what he sees. There are also some co-op only side missions that let us know more about Carver and why he’s personally motivated to complete the mission. These side missions round the game out more and help to humanize the one dimensional space marine. Co-op diminishes the horror aspect of the game a little bit but the tension is still there. Dead Space 3’s co-op is one of the best I’ve ever played.
The other two Dead Space games looked incredible but Dead Space 3 blows them both away. The game no longer runs at 60 frames per second but this is balanced out by how big and colorful some of the environments are. While there are still the tried and true dark corridors and hallways to navigate through, you’ll also get some awe inspiring vistas to gaze upon. The sun of Tau Volantis has a reddish glow that really helps give the outdoor sections an otherworldly and eerie feel. The interiors look really good though and the final section of Dead Space 3 is probably the most disturbingly beautiful part in the entire game. I won’t give it away but if you’ve read At The Mountains Of Madness then you’ll have an idea. Dead Space 3 is one of the best looking games out there.
The biggest gripe that people will have with Dead Space 3 is the horrible save system. You can no longer manually save at a save station and have to be dependent on checkpoint saves. This wouldn’t be an issue if some of the checkpoints weren’t completely awful. One checkpoint left me right in the middle of a battle and I’d get murdered almost instantly every time I restarted. You can manually save your inventory but not your progress which is annoying. Why the save stations were removed doesn’t make too much sense and it just lead to some unnecessary frustration.
Overall though, Dead Space 3 is a solid entry in the series. Weapon crafting and co-op definitely breathe new life to the franchise. Co-op is a blast to experience and is the optimal way to play this game. Tau Volantis is a wonderful setting that proves that an open, day time environment can be just as unsettling and terrifying as any dark corridor. The team at Visceral Games really outdid themselves with Dead Space 3.
•One of the best co-op experiences you can have
•Weapon crafting is more fun than you’d think
•Enemy waves can sometimes feel unfair
•Horrible checkpoint save system
Dead Space 3 was developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts. It is available now on the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.