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Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: 'Dead Space 3' - Wait, I Thought I Was Playing A 'Dead Space' Game

While I wish I could write about the sheer horror and intense feeling of solitude found within Dead Space 3, it's simply not possible. I'd love to describe the emotion felt when a group of necromorphs are lunging at me, low on ammo and out of health packs.

I'd also find great happiness in listing the vast improvements made over the previous entries in the franchise.

Unfortunately I can't.

Instead, I'm forced to tell you that Dead Space 3 is less of a Dead Space game and more of an action shooter along the lines of Gears of War and Lost Planet.

Instead I find myself wondering what the hell went wrong and wishing the title on the cover was something completely different.

The Dead Space franchise known for really only one thing: its horrifying. It's also slightly known for elevators and repetitive gameplay, but that's beside the point. What made Dead Space so frightening was the fact that ammunition was scarce and you were alone. While Dead Space 2 was slightly lacking in both those fronts, it's nothing like what's found in Dead Space 3.

The game that I am playing right now (currently on the twelfth chapter) is a high-intensity third-person shooter. It could honestly be titled Resident Evil 7: Zombies in Space and no one would know the difference. Gone are the days of sweaty palms as you enter the next corridor. Instead we have horrible hit detection, lightning-quick enemies, a protagonist who seems to be in a constant state of stasis, and a crafting bench with nearly unlimited resources.

As far as the story is concerned it goes something like this: Isaac and friends realize where the source of the problem lies. They set out on a journey to destroy the present evil only to realize that every generator is off. The solution is simple, use your telekinesis to turn them back on. Once this power is discovered, Isaac, being the master engineer that is, beings to turn the world's power back on, saving his friends along the way.

Yeah, that might be an incredibly negative (and slightly misleading) way to explain the story, but that's about all I have gathered so far. It's a boring, uninspired narrative with cheap blockbuster cinematics. If I have to watch Isaac and team fall to near death one more time I'm going to seriously lose my shit.

If you've played either Dead Space or Dead Space 2 then the additions to Dead Space 3 are easily outlined. It's faster, less suspenseful, has more characters, plenty of ammunition, includes co-op, has a crafting bench with micro-transactions, a 'cover system' that's nothing more than being able to crouch, and slightly improved graphics. Other then that it's the exact same game.

Problem is that those additions aren't welcome. The crafting bench allows you to make new weapons, upgrade current ones, use resources to produce health packs and similar items, and store unwanted items. The cover system is only used a few times, typically when fighting human enemies, and is absolutely pointless when necromorphs are flying through the air to rip your face off.

As far as the cooperative mode is concerned, I'm planning on running through that this weekend with a buddy who is a massive fan of the series. So hold onto your butts for that one.

Honestly if this game had a different title on it then this would be a completely different review. But it doesn't. It'd be like picking up the new Corvette expecting improved acceleration and handling, only to find that it's now a luxury ride with heated leather seats and parking assist. Sure it's a great product, but it's not what you paid for.

Isaac, shut it. It's my time to talk.
I tried to like Dead Space 3. More often than I probably should have. I kept telling myself that the classic feel is just beyond the next chapter. Then the next chapter came, disappointment followed, and it was on to the next. Only to be met with the same feeling. I'm not entirely sure what Visceral Games was trying to do with this, but whatever it was certainly didn't work.

Maybe this is the product of the Call of Duty experience. Faster paced, twitch-based gameplay to please the adrenaline packed younger generation. Perhaps the Michael Bay cinematics have somehow found their way into every entertainment product possible. After all, everyone loves giant explosions and unrealistic bouts against gravity (insert Nathan Drake cutscene here). It could also be that I'm a crotchety 27-year old male who expects a certain experience to accompany the third entry in a horror-based franchise.

Or maybe, just maybe, Visceral Games simply missed the mark on this one.

Either way Dead Space 3 is a complete disaster as a Dead Space game and one that I can't feel good recommending to anyone who is a true fan of the series. I will however give them credit for one thing: they included elevators and incredible repetitiveness. For that I say 'Cheers'.

Now it's time to play anything else available.

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