Dead Space 3 review


By Garth Holden on Wednesday, February 13, 2013
"The genuine scares are few and far between"

Dead Space 3 arrived and I was excited, despite all my groaning about reveals of co-op, a pay to win structure and the fact that the game is about going to a frozen planet instead of being, you know, in space. So with the sound turned up way too high, the lights dimmed and my newly purchased adult diaper firmly in place, I was ready to face the necromorphs and pause to grab the calming meds if needed…

Then I started fighting humans.

No, not necromorphs that used to be human, I mean actual living, breathing, toss a grenade at you humans. The pitifully weak flesh of their necks splattered the walls as I moved forward, explosions all around me. “What is going on?” I thought. “Hey” I countered, “At least they setting some story for what’s going on and has been happening.” Isaac Clarke continues, never pausing to consider the death he rains down on humans and necromorphs alike. All of this before Mr Clarke even puts an EVA suit on.

Luckily your weapon never ices up.

The tutorials make Isaac sound like an idiot, needing to ask for help with every new obstacle he faces. I call them “obstacles” because there is only one real puzzle in the game. Thankfully they are over by the time you reach the surface of an ice ball hell of a world. Apparently, the key to stopping the necromorphs is somewhere on the barren surface. But humans were here 200 years ago, with more men and more guns. How the hell is Isaac going to pull this one off?

Let me backtrack a bit here. When all the baysplosions are over, you go hunting for various components scattered on a derelict fleet. You spend a bit of time in space in the early stages of the game, where you get reintroduced to each monster in turn. The ultra creepy babies that climbed the walls and shot barbs at you have been replaced by not as disturbing dogs, who have the exact same behaviour. Isaac can read Marker scrawl now, and he obtains a cryptic message from the Admiral, who was locked up for going insane. The graphics are absolutely beautiful, a stark contrast against the monstrosities you face. Spacewalks are breathtaking, quite literally if you wait and gaze for too long and run out of oxygen. Once you travel to another ship, for a moment you feel that classic Dead Space horror. Without giving anything away, let me just say that there was a section involving a tram that made my heart beat way too fast.

I am a leaf on the wind...

Going forward from there though, the genuine scares are few and far between. The hallucinations, phantasms and unbeatable monsters that were all inside your head are all gone. Isaac no longer experiences any visual or auditory episodes, and besides the admiral’s quarters, he never pays attention to a single letter of Marker scrawl again. All those psychological elements, the doubt, the suspense, are replaced with peek-a-boo style scares. Then a few hours in, it dawned on me. I wasn’t scared anymore. Sure the reflex jerk of a monster appearing right next to you is a scare tactic, but I’m talking about the fear, the horror that grips and paralyses. My plasma cutter was too powerful, and I had enough materials to make more medium medipacks than I could possibly carry. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. As a result, I died very few times, which meant I didn’t get to see those grisly execution moves that spatter the screen with blood.

Mission work in Ethiopia has nothing on these hungry guys.

In Dead Space 3, you are part of a group trying to stop the necromorphs. Of course, the game wouldn’t be as scary if you were travelling around with others (a point I will discuss under co-operative play). The ways in which you continuously get separated from the group lose credence until they border on the inane. The characters are for the most part completely forgettable and many of their deaths and actions (you didn’t expect them all to survive, right?) are more predictable than a M. Night Shyamalan movie twist.

It isn’t all bad though. The story is well made, despite the sudden dramatic appearance of a method of salvation. Isaac has issues to work through in-between having his head removed and exploring dangerous, abandoned sections of ships/facility. One section, where Isaac needs to assemble a key component, had me so engrossed I was arguing with my TV. Sadly, this is all let down by a pretty weak ending and awkward coincidences.

Be an engineer

Isaac Clarke has always been able to modify all manner of tools into weapons to use against the Necromorphs. For the first time though, you get to tinker with those designs yourself. The bench now allows you to assemble weaponry from several components. Want a hydraulic knife attachment on your trusty plasma cutter for when enemies get too close? Check. How about a line gun that can shoot in a horizontal or vertical line? Shotguns, assault rifles and flamethrowers all get tossed into the mix here, allowing you to create an arsenal that suits your needs. Of course, better weapons need more materials to be built, so scavenging goes hand in hand with progress. If you are lucky, you might find useful components of weapons in your travels, which Isaac can then make copies of.

This is where enemies tend be be. Behind you.

Circuits have also been revamped. Instead of tossing multiple generic circuits at your weapon’s nodes until you get the upgrades you want, each tool of your weapon (upper and lower) can take up to four circuits. These circuits are not blank slates anymore and give certain bonuses (and sometimes penalties) to your weapon.

Weapon attachments add a plethora of effects. Set your bullets on fire, electrocute, acid bath or char your enemies. Want to pick up ammo automatically? Or perhaps you want to avoid splash damage from your own rocket launcher. These and more are available for the keen scavenger.

Bring a buddy

If you want to destroy the final vestiges of fear and atmosphere, play this game with a friend. Besides at times making absolutely no sense, it hampers the impact of scuttling noises, of tense music and that feeling of being all alone against the Marker’s hordes all fizzle away. The number of enemies doesn’t increase, and those “make a mistake and die” chase sequences quickly become frustrating when your partner (or you) keep on dying. You can save each other from enemy execution moves, and also revive each other (this can be toggled off if you don’t want things too easy.

Carver gets better helmets. This is not fair, I've been here since game 1!

Then come the missions that you can only do in co-op, and suddenly this is the best part of the game. Carver has many demons to confront, illusions, disembodied voices and many other disturbing events happen to Carver. Isaac stands nearby, not seeing the things Carver sees and only hearing half of the conversation Carver seems to be having with himself. This is Dead Space at its best and I wish the entire game were made this way. There are only three missions (one is which is really short) but it is really worth playing all of them from both characters’ perspectives. The experience was, in a word, chilling and really adds great depth and motive to John Carver.

Better with Kinect

We all know games are better with Kinect right? I made this handy chart to show how well the Kinect understands Wookiee.

SADWOOKIEE

Pretty impressive right? What it is good at, is picking up everything else in the room, including game noises, to fire off commands. Doors closing nearby make you drink a medipack. Elevators open your database. Stomping makes you refill your stasis and audio logs set off a melee rage in Isaac. If you want to save medipacks and frustrations, do yourself a favour and unplug your Kinect.

Downloadable malcontent

Yeah, I’m not touching this topic. Maybe one day, with Brenda’s hands. Suffice it to say, I played the entire campaign without any internet connection at all. If you search properly, you will have more than enough of every resource. If a plasma cutter that does as much damage as a rocket launcher isn’t good enough for you, maybe you should look at something less reflex oriented.

Nothing beats a good old dismembering.

In the end, the only dead space is that hole where psychological thriller and terror used to live, a hole so teasingly pointed out by the co-op only missions. Dead Space 3 isn’t a bad game, and will most likely appeal to the “newer generation” that want pay to win purchases in their games. Old fans, however, will have to look elsewhere for their bowel evacuating stimulus. Dead Space 3 would have made a great action/ adventure game, but this isn’t Weaponsmith Hero 1, this is Mess Your Pants 3.

Dead Space 3 was reviewed by on the 13th of February , 2013 at 12:45 PM on Xbox 360

GAMEPLAY
7.5
The guns are still just as fun to burn, eviscerate, pummel, impale, dismember and detonate with, but I can count the proper scares I had on one hand.
DESIGN
8.0
The modular weapon creation interface kept me fiddling for ages, tweaking things to be that little bit better. Visceral doesn't disappoint with interfaces or HUD elements and the main menu will blow your mind when you discover what it is. Kinect, go lie down.
VALUE
8.5
At 16 hours to finish the single player elements and several extra modes to take on, there is a lot of replay value here.
TOTAL
7.9
New fans will enjoy a scary action adventure over the shoulder shooter with lots of cool guns. Fans of the franchise will need to look elsewhere for that big scare. I love it and hate it at the same time.

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Don't stop now.... you're having a good time


  • Deon Steyn

    DMC, Dead Space 3 and Res6 was made for a new generation! I’m not even that old but I am definitely not part of this “new generation”

    • Valshen

      While I loved the new DMC, it seems horror is dead.

      • Deon Steyn

        RE2 was the first one I played in the series on PS1. Gaming could not get any better back then.

      • FoxOneZA

        Oh the horror, horror is D.E.A.D!!!!

  • Lardus

    Lol, “I am a leaf on the wind…”!! Great alt text for an image!

    • Valshen

      Yay, you just made my day by getting that. :)

      • http://twitter.com/mathuthe Mathias

        Browncoats for life

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        take my love
        take my land
        take me where I cannot stand
        I don’t care
        I’m still free
        you can’t take the sky from me

        take me out
        to the black tell ‘em I ain’t coming back
        burn the land
        and boil the sea
        you can’t take the sky from me

        have no place
        I can be
        since I found Serenity
        but you can’t take the sky from me

        • Mikhil

          Fuck Fox. No seriously. Bring this gorram show back!!

  • matthurstrsa

    I’ve heard a lot of people say its too easy, too many med packs etc. Will still play it to round out the story. But I’m glad I didn’t buy it in day 1.

    • Valshen

      When you need to visit the safe to put health packs away, you know you have a problem.

  • DieJason

    Almost done with Dead Space 2, which is quite frantic at times with so many necromorphs, but compared to the first game, I am not quite getting that scare factor.

    What it does get right though, would be the amount of ammo and medipacks being dished out, I have to constantly buy ammo and some meds (even with all the pickups), feel desperate at times….. maybe I am just horrible at this game…sigh

    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      What setting are you playing it on? I am actually near the end (but my life has been sucked in by Darksiders) and I am on medium, finding ammo and med packs is a nightmare!

      • DieJason

        Good question…. probably normal? Just about to start chapter 13. So many guns + equipment, and things to upgrade, and so little money / nodes.

        Darksiders is excellent :D

  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    Love the review my friend!

    Can’t wait to build me some fancy plasma cutter!

    PLASMA CUTTER FTW BITCHES!!!

  • http://twitter.com/mathuthe Mathias

    Well written review, but I don’t agree with the score. It’s more “decent” than it’s “good”, but, hey! Opinions.

    And it is too easy. Even on Impossible difficulty they throw medipacks after medipacks. The Necromorphs are faster than ever, but they had to ruin it by giving you enough health to go through it without much concern.

    • Valshen

      If I could score the game *just* on “Is this still dead space” the score would be much much lower and the entire office would be handling angry phone calls.

      The game though, is good, with a brief flame of incredible that dies as you bask in its glow.

      • http://twitter.com/mathuthe Mathias

        I found it rather boring up to chapter 8, where it really starts to pick up, and I played without even pausing until I was on chapter 13… And then it went downhill again. I can take a decent amount of rappelling before getting bored. Not to mention de final boss…

        • Valshen

          Oh that pesky wall climbing…

  • Sir Captain Rincethis

    Awesome review mate. Yeah, I think I’ll wait till the price comes down, place this single player, THEN copop with OVG. The only thing is, I will probably be more afraid of OVG and his disappointment at not freaking out, than anything the game can throw at me…

  • Sir Captain Rincethis

    Awesome review mate. Yeah, I think I’ll wait till the price comes down, place this single player, THEN copop with OVG. The only thing is, I will probably be more afraid of OVG and his disappointment at not freaking out, than anything the game can throw at me…

  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    What action does it do when you RAWWWR at the Kinect?

    • Valshen

      The enemies run away!

  • http://twitter.com/Kikmi Slade Boender

    I sighed /:

  • Pingback: Cliffy B: Nobody buys horror games | Lazygamer .:: The Worlds Best Video Game News ::. | Action

  • Banana Jim

    lol the Wookie Guide to Kinect gets a thumbs up from me. Hilarious stuff!! HAHAHAHA

    • Valshen

      My timbre is too much for the Kinect it seems.

  • typhoon1j

    well at least I can play this one without changing my soiled pants every few chapters

  • http://twitter.com/JohannErasmus81 Johann Erasmus

    best combo gun i made was :
    1) seeker rifle (with statis) one shot and the mofo freezes followed by
    2) chainsaw (acid bath) – while they are frozen i slowly saw off all limbs and when they unfreeze they just fall apart! love it!

  • http://twitter.com/JohannErasmus81 Johann Erasmus

    best combo gun i made was :
    1) seeker rifle (with statis) one shot and the mofo freezes followed by
    2) chainsaw (acid bath) – while they are frozen i slowly saw off all limbs and when they unfreeze they just fall apart! love it!

  • http://twitter.com/JohannErasmus81 Johann Erasmus

    best combo gun i made was :
    1) seeker rifle (with statis) one shot and the mofo freezes followed by
    2) chainsaw (acid bath) – while they are frozen i slowly saw off all limbs and when they unfreeze they just fall apart! love it!

  • http://twitter.com/JohannErasmus81 Johann Erasmus

    best combo gun i made was :
    1) seeker rifle (with statis) one shot and the mofo freezes followed by
    2) chainsaw (acid bath) – while they are frozen i slowly saw off all limbs and when they unfreeze they just fall apart! love it!

  • Pingback: The Lazygamer Top 100 games of this generation – 51-60 | Lazygamer .:: The Worlds Best Video Game News ::.

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