RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dead Space 3

I only managed to clock in about 5 hours on Dead Space 3, and the reason for that is that it really isn't my cup of tea. It's an alright game, but I can't get behind it. Why? Because Dead Space 3 is designed to shock you. Every corner you turn some terrifying creature tries to leap at you and give you a fit. But when you take those scary moments away, what does it have left? A weak shooter with bad mechanics followed by pretty cool weapon customization.

The introduction scene of Dead Space 3, flying above the snow
Hanging out of spaceships in precarious positions seems to be a popular theme on this franchise.

Isaac Clarke comes back as the protagonist from the previous two games, mentally crippled from the traumatic events he experienced from slaughtering his way through two games of scary zombie action. A marker has been activated on the moon, creating a plague of Necromorph. The markers alter the DNA of corpses which turns them into bloodthirsty death machines that shrug off shots to the head. As the only one to survive previous marker outbreaks, and convinced by his missing girlfriend, Isaac is dragged into the fray once again. Although I didn't like Dead Space as a game, the story captivated me. It's one of the better Sci-Fi tales I've experienced.

Playing Dead Space 3 and learning the truth about cultists
These cracker ass cultists brought on the apocalypse because that's what cults do.

So what are you getting if you buy the third main title in the Dead Space franchise? A survival horror third-person shooter. In space. Sadly, that's about it. Oh, aside from the creepy zombies that morph dead bodies into creepy masses of death. It's got an indie feel to it, but that's because the graphics aren't great and the mechanics aren't polished. If you are a survival horror enthusiast, Dead Space is a brilliant choice for you. If not, then you might find it questionable like me.

Dead Space 3 enemies. Pretty terrifying and loads to kill.
Necromorphs are actually pretty scary enemies, and there's plenty of them.

My main issue with the Dead Space franchise is that it was overwhelmingly disappointing. After all the reviews and excited friends I have dealt with, I really expected more. Sure, the zombies crawling out of every nook, crevice and cranny scared the hell out of me. I wasted countless bullets spraying at corpses. But the awful mechanics just irritated me to no end. The kick function was terrible, and barely served a purpose except in situations you were probably already dead. Many of the guns were completely useless, and only became a viable choice after upgrading them a lot. Picking up and moving objects with Kinesis could have been a fun and potentially amazing mechanic, instead it's just an annoying minigame. The graphics were sort of blotchy, I really expected them to be better. All in all, I found myself focusing on the bad parts of Dead Space 3 instead of enjoying the good.

A cutscene near the start of Dead Space 3 with explosions and space ships
I bet he's getting used to hanging out of spaceships in precarious positions by now.

There are a few good features to Dead Space 3. Unlike the first two games, the awkward horror situations have been replaced in favor of more action. Instead of being forced into a cramped vent just so something can make you jump out of your skin and suffer organ failure, it feels more like a run and gun. With the added function to roll and take cover, Dead Space 3 definitely feels more dynamic than the previous two games.

Playing Dead Space 3 traveling in space.
Being able to control your character out in space is pretty awesome. Up until the Necromorphs start to do the same thing. Then it's just scary.

Another cool aspect is the UI. Every part of the ingame interface is accessed through your spacesuit. Instead of pausing the game and bringing you to a menu, you can view your inventory while playing since it projects itself from your suit.

The best part of this title is the weapon creation system. Once you collect enough materials, it's possible to create all manner of death dealing guns. For example, crossing a cryogenic torch with a rocket launcher allows you to freeze and then shatter anything. You can combine a lethal shotgun with a diffractor to put everything everywhere on the ground; while you casually step up to each one and blast their brains out. Honestly, this is the only thing that kept me playing.

It's a shame that Dead Space 3 has a few really cool mechanics that get bogged down and held back by the rest of it. Visceral games have tried to innovate since the previous games in the Dead Space franchise, but it doesn't seem to be enough.

Gun customisation and firing rounds in the game Dead Space
I really like the gun customization, you can craft some scary stuff.

You can slowly time when your enthusiasm for Dead Space is going to run out. Early on in the game when windows explode and cretinous devilspawn starts trying to claw your eyes out, you will empty every clip in your gun at it and then stomp on the corpse until every limb is splattered over your suit. Several hours later, you will be targeting limbs with precision shots; and things leaping out of every corner won't even phase you. That's when I became disinterested.

Most games are easily criticized, but the best of them keep you so intrigued, entertained, or just plain frustrated that you completely forget to complain about the awful things. If I look at Dead Space objectively, it's a good franchise that does exactly what it says on the tin. However, when I look at it personally- it's a lackluster title that loses value the longer you play it.

I can understand that Visceral Games have created a game that a lot of people will enjoy and appreciate. I am not one such person. As previously stated; it's not my cup of tea. So if you're interested in it, it's up to you to make a judgement call.

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