While Dead Space 3 has left behind some of the magic that gave the series its iconic status, it’s still a very good game indeed. High-quality production values and most of the elements that made the series so great are still there, but it’s a little more action that horror, and a little less “Dead Space.”
The original seemed a little darker, more claustrophobic and it had a way of using a single Necromorph to get your pulse racing, very suited to the singleplayer. This is a bolder production, and this one achieves the tense situations mainly by throwing hordes of Necromorphs at you now, complimenting the co-operative experience a little more. Despite not finding all of what I hoped for, the end result was still the same – an extremely satisfying experience, and I have no doubt that it will remain one of the better games I play this year.
Developer: Visceral Games
Distributor: EA South Africa
For fans of: Action, horror, shooters
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.5/10
What I loved
- Control mechanics
- Vicious stomping on enemies
- Weapon types
- Weapon crafting
- Dungeon crawling
- Audio and visual quality
Not so much
- Storyline not the most interesting
- Our protagonist should’ve remained masked
- Less creepy than the original
- Puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles
Gameplay and Features
On the positive side – most of what fans loved about the original game has been carried over. There’s the outstanding third-person view, the gunplay so realistic and satisfying. There’s the severing of the Necromorph’s limbs with weapons, gruesome visually and an aural treat. There are the inventive gameplay elements that introduced us to the series, winning our favour in the first place. Then the drop-in drop-out co-operative mode is as well done as you are going to find. Dead Space 3 is abundantly rich in content too, so everything seems in order and as if this was a natural evolution.
The problem I have, and don’t get me wrong here, is that a little of the magic that made Dead Space so wonderful has been left behind. Still, this is a great action-survival game and I won’t even whine about it not being that scary – I have never been a fan of cheap scares. The mystery revolving around our good scientist has been lost by unmasking him. I liked that mystery. Then there was that creepy breathing in the first game which elevated the tense mood. Dead Space 3 is an overall less tense affair. I remember being permanently on edge with the original, and it wasn’t just the cheap scare tactics. It seemed like everything worked together to create the tense ambiance. With this one, the pace is constantly interrupted by puzzles, breaking the tension. The Necromorphs are as scary as before if not more, and especially because they seem more quick to attack now, so I was certainly tense when ambushed. They attack in numbers usually, and the difficulty level is spot on, making you think about how to dispatch them. But then there were the constant puzzles detracting for the “survival horror” theme and interrupting the pace, something that is vital with a good horror.
Now that I have cleared up what I was disappointed with, I will concede that Dead Space 3 is still a gripping adventure that I found difficult to put down. It has the hallmarks of a truly grand production. The solid mechanics, engaging gameplay and I can only think of one other game with such a rewarding weapons system, and that would be Borderlands. The weapons are unique to start with, and then you can customise them in any way you desire. You can take stock weapon parts and add parts like a top barrel as well as a bottom one for example. So then you can fire with both the upper barrel using RB or RT for the bottom barrel simultaneously. The under and upper barrels can fire different ammo for totally different effects. The weapon crafting is deep, and your options are almost endless. You can even purchase parts and so forth with the micro-transaction system. This is not necessary at all as I used only in-game parts throughout. You can save your blueprints and collect blueprints for various weapons, save them and/or share them with the online community. Like I said, I can only think of one other game where I had such a ball with crafting weapons.
The game’s design is the most thorough and the boldest in the series. The game is deeper and players’ options are more than before. Not only with elements like the weapons, but with the game modes themselves. The co-operative mode is probably the best feature and where you will find the most fun with. And then there are the stellar difficulty levels’ design. On the normal difficulty, I found it to be properly challenging. Before I crafted some almighty weapons and beefed up my suit stats, I was having to think about when to freeze enemies to slow them down, and when to use whichever weapon. I was re-doing levels over and over after dying countless times, and I couldn’t even fathom a more difficult level. The more difficult options, and probably where the true “survival horror” theme will shine, not only toughen the foes up but also give you less resources like ammo and statis. When reading the description of the various difficulty levels, it was clear to me that some careful thought went into the designs instead of just pushing it up a notch.
Sound and Visuals
Dead Space 3 is more impressive than the previous titles aesthetically. There’s more diversity in the gaming world with this one, and generally the world feels a little larger, less cramped than with the previous instalments. The graphics are just about flawless, filled with detailing. The visual effects are astounding and together with the general visual production, makes for a truly immersive world. The only aspect that I can think of visually that was not as great as the greatest of them, is the facial detailing – I have seen more impressive. The cut-scenes drive the story along nicely and not intrusive or too lengthy – there’s nothing worse in action-packed game than drawn out cut-scenes. The cut-scenes here compliment the pace of the story and never detracted from the action by being to drawn out.
Unlike the first game, and similar to the second, there is a lot of communication and therefore audio. I believe the first game’s lack of audio for long periods actually benefitted the mood, giving it a more desperate atmosphere – I loved that. With this one, and while the voice-acting was perfectly well done, the constant communication made me feel less “alone” and therefore less desperate or tense. The sound effects were crafted in great detail, as was the dramatic scoring, complimenting the mood throughout the game, building up and peaking in all the right places.
I do wish Isaac had remained silent and masked through the series. This was part of the creepy charm that I came to love about the series. I think newcomers will just think this one is brilliant from start to finish. For me, when I look back at this generation someday, it’s the first Dead Space that I will recommend. This one impresses in every department, but in the future generations I won’t want to play a game from the past for its production qualities. I will want to play those iconic titles – the “Super Marios Bros.” or “Dooms” of this generation, and Dead Space was one such title.
While this conclusive instalment might not be my favourite in the series, and no matter what genre it falls into, it is still one hell of a game. Put together brilliantly, it’s engaging, gripping and ultimately satisfying.
Read about our ratings here.