STAFF REVIEW of Dead Space 3 (Xbox 360)

Friday, February 8, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Dead Space 3 Box art It often becomes a scary situation in and of itself when a company releases an original IP. Not only releasing an original IP, but an original horror IP at that. Visceral Games originally released Dead Space and almost overnight not only was a series born, but also a devout following of gamers from around the world. Following up such a classic success with another of greater impact is not as easy feat to do, but to do it not once, but twice, is a feat that is almost unheard of. This success is due to new innovations that take shape with each new release, and the overall development of everyone's favorite engineer, Isaac Clarke. Originally Dead Space 3's future hung in the balance of the performance of Dead Space 2, and it was up to the gaming world to let them know if they wanted a sequel. The gaming world spoke, and their message echoed through space with the force of a planetary explosion. It's time to keep calm and stop everything, because we're going in head first into the dark innovative depths of Dead Space 3.

Surprisingly, we actually start Dead Space 3 during the events and time when the markers were first found which take place before the events of the original Dead Space, and after a terrifying walk down that memory lane we fast forward to a time which is years after Dead Space 2 to find Isaac Clarke a shell of his former self. Mentally distraught and locked in a constant battle to retain his sanity over the influence of the markers, Isaac has lost almost everything he's cared about. There isn't time however for Isaac to come to terms with everything that has happened before he's violently thrown back into the horrors that he has worked so hard to repress, not just physically, but mentally as well. Throughout the campaign, which is quite long if we're honest, you will venture to explore areas such as 200 year old deserted warships and even the marker home world of Tau Volantis and one thing is for sure, every area goes to great lengths to provide one amazing pants ruining experience after another. While this has always been the backbone of the Dead Space experience, the real beauty of Dead Space 3 rests in the brand new innovations that help adapt one of the most iconic survival horror games into the oncoming future.

When games fail to innovate the gamer's experience, we tend to find an experience that leads us straight down the path of disappointment. Thankfully Visceral Games has taken this knowledge to heart and provided Dead Space 3 with some innovations both good and bad that all accumulate into a truly amazing gaming experience. One of these innovations involves the gameplay of Dead Space 3. While the tried and true control scheme that we have followed since the beginning remains as solid as it ever was; Isaac now has a summersault roll which will come in very handy as you find yourself face to face multiple times with multiple necromorphs. This small innovation packs a mammoth planet cracking punch as it actually deepens the gamer's gameplay. Another innovation to the gameplay comes in the form of allowing Kinect voice integrated commands. While other games have allowed this feature, just like the others, Dead Space 3's Kinect voice command support doesn't fit the feel of what we have come to know and love about the Dead Space games and ultimately, in the end, is more novelty than essential and does very little to enhance your Dead Space 3 gaming experience.

Not to be contempt with just providing a couple new innovative gameplay mechanics, Dead Space 3 brings to the table a whole new revolutionary upgrade system that affects, not just you’re RIG, but every weapon in the game. Gone are the days when you needed power nodes to enhance your weapon, but more important than that, is the fact that now you can make almost any weapon you want, so long as you have the materials to do so. Want to make a lightning chain gun on the top and have an explosive spike launcher on the bottom? Go ahead. What about a shotgun/sniper combo? Of course. Without question this new innovation will have you spending hours constructing and upgrading weapons from blueprints, or from scratch itself while you determine what works best for you. This upgrade and weapon construction feature can only be used though if you have enough resources to make it. Various components such as Tungsten, semiconductors, and more will be needed in quantity to make these new weapons come to life and thankfully there is no short supply of them, except Tungsten which you will find out is THE most critical material you can find.

While this innovation is masterfully done, there is a downfall though to this amazing new innovation and that comes in the form of microtransactions. For just a couple hundred Microsoft points you can actually buy all the material you need to create a devastating weapon right from the beginning. Unfortunately this method, while rapid and overpowering, will dilute the game experience which, in the end, is the most critical part of Dead Space 3. Times when you only had a basic plasma cutter to use against an oncoming onslaught of necromorphs are now only there if you want them to be. While the weapon construction and upgrade system is phenomenal, the microtransaction system leaves this innovation with a black eye.

As we all have known leading up to the release of Dead Space 3, there is a brand new innovation and involves the inclusion of co-op gameplay. This has been a controversial move since inception given the fact that Dead Space has always been a tremendous single player experience, and after the failed multiplayer of Dead Space 2, we find that co-op has taken its place and while it may sound entertaining at first to stomp necromorphs with a friend, there are some drawbacks to this as well. One of the interesting points is how the game itself adapts to include a secondary player. This is done by altering certain cut scenes and including new dialogue between characters and hallucinating sequences that will twist and warp any lasting memory of what reality actually is. That however, isn't the full story as we find that there are some co-op ONLY missions that are ONLY accessible if you have a second player participating. While there is less than a handful of co-op only missions, you get the feeling that you're, essentially, locked out of fully enjoying everything that Dead Space 3 has to offer if you decide to play through the game solo.

Whether you decide to play through Dead Space 3 by yourself or with a friend one thing is certain and that is you will find yourself going through insanely tense battles many, many times. This dark and twisted journey is brought to life in stunning beauty by depicting gorgeous environments that provide you small amounts of peace and tranquility amidst a seemingly endless nightmare of death and horror. There is however, one issue that has led Dead Space 3 down a path that ultimately hinders the game and that involves the music. Originally Dead Space had a minimal score which allowed gamers to hear more of their surrounding environment and thus adding to the "holy crap, what was that I just heard and where is it coming from?" moments. Unfortunately the sound of Dead Space 3 resembles more of a dramatic Hollywood movie score where you can get the feeling something big and bad is going to happen as the music climbs in intensity. This ultimately takes away from the environment around you which hurts the game in the end because the environment has always been a primary focus of Dead Space's appeal.

Without question Dead Space 3 delivers some amazing new innovations but in the end, you get the feeling that there was more focus on what innovations were to be included, than making what content that was in the game perfect. Make no mistake, Dead Space 3 is a fantastic survival horror game, but the setbacks that effect a lot of these new innovations hinder the game's overall quality and prevents it from developing into an almost perfect game. Moving forward, gamers want quality, not quantity and hopefully Visceral will learn from this if or when they decide to release Dead Space 4 and focus on scaring the crap out of us instead of culminating new innovations that detract from what makes the Dead Space series arguably, the king of survival horror.

If you are one of the millions of gamers from around the globe who fell in love with the Dead Space games, then you will enjoy the new adaptations and innovations in Dead Space 3 and while yes there may be some faults and flaws, Dead Space 3 is a must have for anyone who not only enjoys quality survival horror games, but enjoys quality games period. Always look over your shoulder, and remember to stay away from the vents. Keep your gun always loaded and your wits about you and you just might make it out alive, but what condition will you be in afterwards? Play Dead Space 3 and you'll find out...

Overall: 8.7 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.7 / 10


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