Less scares, more thrills.
Does Dead Space 3 leave you in the cold ?
Like many trilogy's, the third one can turn out the weakest. This is the case with Dead Space 3, the latest instalment to EA and Visceral Games atmospheric horror series. The narrative isn't as interesting, and it's change in direction will not suit everyone's taste. With the original focusing heavily on slow paced gameplay, creeping around dark corridors, DS2 was slightly more action packed. Dead Space 3, however, focuses more on thrilling action set pieces, instead of constantly making you jump out of your seat. There are some scares here and there, but this is by far the most action oriented one yet. I, for one, don't mind the evolved gameplay. It fits in well with how the main protagonist, Isaac, has changed throughout the series. He has become more daring. Starting as an engineer with set orders, to eventually giving orders himself. He has evolved into a bad-ass killing machine, making this a perfect fit for the third outing.
The story in DS3 picks up a while after the last one. Isaac is currently living quietly in an apartment, somewhere on a lunar station. He soon gets a visit from two soldiers, which ask Isaac to help find his missing ex-girlfriend, Ellie. This is what drives Isaac out of his comfort zone, and he is soon blasting away at Necromorphs limbs again. The plot is enough to keep the series moving, but it's not as satisfying as it's predecessors. Having said that, DS3 does manage to keep your interest curve until the credits roll. One reason is mainly due to the new setting, which opens up in the second half. Isaac heads to entirely new territory, a frozen planet called Tau Volantis.
The new location feels right at home for the series. It's atmospheric tone of it's predecessors still feels present. Going outside in snow blizzards can be very creepy, with Necromorphs hurtling towards you at short notice. It can be just as scary as creeping around the dark, chrostophobic corridors in DS2. With the past games having you save on ammo, DS3 gives it to you left right in centre. This does make it easier than before, but it's still no walk in the park. Instead of struggling to shoot the limbs off your approaching foes, DS3 has you struggling to fight off waves of them. They are far more Necromorphs on screen, surrounding you at all angles, and it makes combat very intense.
Past games in the series had you searching high and low for ammo. In DS3, it's all about resources for weapons. Items, like scrap metal are scattered throughout the game. Collecting enough will allow you to upgrade your suit, increase your health etc. The biggest feature though, is being able to craft and upgrade your own weaponry. Throughout the game, you will be able to stop at a nearby BENCH, then craft your own weapon. There's a wide range of parts that can be added. It makes searching for items worth while. Eventually, you are able to send off a small robot that will search nearby parts. The new weapon crafting system is the most redeeming feature. It can be very addictive and it had me returning for more, even when the campaign was over.
Stopping at a nearby Bench is always recommended. Missing them will make things much tougher later on. Necromorphs and larger foes will be harder to take down, requiring you to upgrade and change your arsenal. Most of the weapons act like you would expect from the series. For example, the Plasma Cutter is still your primary weapon, offering two alternate fire modes. There's many familiar weapons, but building your own attachments and upgrades to them offers an exciting new twist.
Dead Space 3 does feel slightly repetitive rather quickly, but there's a nice variety of puzzles and gravity section to break it up. There's a lot more puzzles this time around. They are far from taxing, but still offer some interest. Isaac still has his two powers, telekinesis and stasis. These become very handy in puzzle situations. For example, some will require you to pick up and place objects at certain points with telekinesis. Stasis is also used to stop dangerous objects from moving fast, allowing you to pass them. Anyone used to it from DS2 should have no problem, but it's used more frequently than before.
The campaign takes a lengthy journey, clocking in around 12-15 hours. It feels very polished, offering beautiful visuals and solid gameplay throughout. An added Co-op feature also allows you to return with a partner. It makes parts of the game more fun. You will need to work together on many occasions, and through it's variety of puzzles. It sure works well enough, but it's not something that will interest many who prefer the solo survival experience.
Dead Space 3 is different, but a very entertaining and polished shooter. With a lengthy campaign, Co-op, and an addictive weapon crafting system, there's plenty of reasons to keep playing.
7.5 "Very good"