Dead Space 3 Review
Isaac Clarke has seen some horrific things in his life. Two incidents with the reanimated corpses known as Necromorphs is enough to drive anyone to madness, and Isaac is no exception. Dead Space 3 opens to Clarke’s apartment, where signs of insanity and alcoholism run rampant. Runes with no apparent meaning except to the ones grasped by the horrific hold of The Markers lay sprawled over tables. Broken mirrors and torn up pictures of a love lost scatter the ground; evidence of a delirium induced madness. Elsewhere, religious maniacs unleash a nefarious plot to propagate a Necromorph outbreak that will devour Earth. Isaac Clarke is in no shape to be saving the world right now. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who can.
Dead Space 3 immediately sets the tone as something far different from the previous two outings in the series. Shrugging off the feeling of isolation and horror that so defined the earlier incarnations and striving for a more gung-ho action feel. The player takes on the role of Isaac Clarke and literally hits the ground running in the opening sequence, as Clarke chases down religious zealots, Gears of War style. Necromorph’s don’t make an appearance until about twenty minutes into the game, and even then, they’re simply zombified soldiers, blindly running at you with axes and sprouting thorny tentacles when shot. The majority of the game is a shooting gallery, with no room for strategies beyond blowing away things that are not you. While there are fleeting moments of horror to be had, they are sadly, few and far between, making Dead Space 3 a plain old action game. That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.
Now, while the game is simplistic in its running and gunning most of the time, the combat is fantastic. Every weapon feels completely different and will affect enemies in unique ways. You want to chop off limbs with a plasma cutter? Go right ahead! Want to use a suspended circular saw to eviscerate the enemy closest to you, blood spraying in your face like you’re in the front row of an Alice Cooper show? Go right on ahead, you crazy bastard. While this may be standard Dead Space fare, the third episode introduces something new, exciting, and expensive: weapon crafting. With the new weapon crafting system, the player can create whatever devious weapons their twisted heart desires. This is accomplished by using parts found via stomping on dead bodies with the Isaac Clarke Super-Foot 2.0. The player must then deploy scavenger bots when signalled to by a frantic beeping sound. When all else fails, you can also spend real-life money and get a bunch of weapon materials straight from EA. Capitalism Ahoy! If you happen to craft a weapon that is totally useless, it can be taken apart and salvaged for materials.This system encourages experimentation and fiddling to find every possible combination of parts can result in the creation of your dream gun. Add to this universal ammo and you never have to settle for anything less than your perfect weapon ever again.
The story, however, is abysmal. Instead of exploring Isaac’s insanity, like they should have, as soon as he is shot into space with a bunch of meat-headed marines, his sanity comes back and it becomes a silly love triangle that shoves itself into the spotlight whenever it gets it’s chance, like the greasy little teenager it is. The dialogue is some of the most painful drivel I have ever been subjected to in a video game, and I’ve played Resident Evil. Even the main plot, which sets Isaac against the Uni(scien)toligist church and their vile plot to wipe out all life, is all too reminiscent of many well-known movies. Dead Space’s story was strong when it was an internal struggle between Isaac and his own psyche; when other characters were introduced, the game devolved into a cancerous soap opera.
Cancer aside, Dead Space 3 is fun. It’s not deep or horrifying, but fun it is. Though the tension and atmosphere of the first two games may be lacking, the newly acquired focus on combat and weapon crafting creates one hell of a good time. The horror we’ve come to expect from this particular franchise has failed to make an appearance and the story is childish drivel, but the gameplay is solid enough to more than make up for it’s shortcomings.
Release: 8 February 2013
Developed by: Visceral Games
Published by: Electronic Arts