(360/PS3/PC) Dead Space 3 | Review by Manio
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    Developer: Visceral Games
    Publisher:
    Electronic Arts
    Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
    Release Date: February 5th, 2013 (NA)
    February 7th, 2013 (AU)
    February 8th, 2013 (EU)

    Dead Space 3 is the third installment in the Dead Space series, and is a survival-horror game developed by Visceral Games. The game continues the story of Isaac Clarke in his quest to destroy the Markers, and put an end to the Necromorph threat.

    The main source of intrigue about the game is co-op, and it's a welcomed edition to the franchise. Let's get on with the review.

    [CENTER]Plot
    When player's first boot up Dead Space 3 they'll see two characters we've never encountered before. Tim Kaufman, and Sam Ackerman (co-op partner will be Ackerman if you're playing co-op). This is essentially the prologue of Dead Space 3 and is set 200 years before the actual game takes place and reveals some key points about the story, so it's wise to pay attention.

    Eventually, the prologue ends and we're thrust 200 years into present day of the franchise and we see Isaac Clarke alone in his apartment, and find out that himself and Ellie Langford (whom we met in Dead Space 2) have had a romantic relationship and then separated (Dead Space 3 takes place 2 months after Dead Space 2).

    Soon enough two men enter holding Isaac at gun-point, and tell him they're bringing him along on a mission to find Ellie Langford and her team, where her signal broadcasts from Tau Volantis (the frozen planet where most of the game takes place). These two men are Sgt. John Carver (co-op character) and Cpt. Robert Norton.

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    Isaac Clarke (blue), and John Carver (red).

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    Once players find Ellie they're sent on a "suicide" mission to stop the Marker signal coming from Tau Volantis which is believed to be the Marker homeworld.
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    That's the plot in a nutshell, and it's a good thing to point out that this Dead Space game is long, and it's narrative reveals a lot of key points in the series that were otherwise left a mystery. I felt that it didn't hinder anything from the actual game, and the story was interesting all the way through and I was always keen on learning more about the Markers, and the Church Of Unitology who are quite a major threat through-out the game, unlike the two previous titles.

    I for one didn't complain about fighting other humans whom carried guns because it was bound to happen at some point in the story. If you've played the previous games you'll know that the Church is one of the main antagonists of the games as they're trying to activate the Markers and cause the humans to "evolve" which essentially just turns them into the Necromorphs. So, it's only natural that at some point we'd have to fight them too.

    I don't want to spoil too much about the game because it's the most story driven Dead Space yet, and there's some sequences of the game that really need to be experienced from a plot stand-point. Plus, the ending is really good.

    You'll get about 15 hours or so out of your first play-through.

    Take that as you will. I really enjoyed the story in this game. The strongest story yet in any of the games. Plus, if you play on co-op you'll learn a little more about Carver whom is the co-op character, and it doesn't hurt to gather some extra information, and learn more.

    [CENTER]Gameplay

    NOTE: My first play-through of the game was done via co-op. So, all of my review will be catered towards that. I didn't play as Isaac, but as Carver and wanted to see things from his standpoint. Take that into consideration with this review, as experiences playing as Isaac and Carver are different in some small ways.
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    Dead Space 3 returns with that amazing mechanic of dispatching your enemies. Dismemberment. For people who haven't played a Dead Space game, you're essentially fighting these alien-like zombies called Necromorphs who can really only be killed by taking off their limbs. It's gruesome, satisfying, and actually requires some strategy because some enemies can only be killed in certain ways. You won't be able to spray & pray (on the harder difficulties at-least) and it really helps to think before dispatching enemies.

    The game also introduces a new mechanic with co-operative play which doesn't make the game easier as some might think. On co-op the enemies are stronger, and more abundant to add that level of difficulty that is needed in an experience like this. In co-op there are two characters. Isaac Clarke & the new man, John Carver. While adventuring through the different chapters you'll come across scenarios where the player controlling Carver will start hearing voices, and seeing things that aren't there, and making it even more eerie was the fact when I heard a kid laughing, and a child's face displayed on a wall crying blood and my friend was confused as to what I was freaked out about.

    That's right. The person playing as Isaac will not see or hear what Carver is experiencing. Sure, they'll be Necromorphs that you'll have to fight, but the small "hallucinations" are only for Carver, and Isaac has to stand by while his partner slowly deteriorates. It's a neat little edition, and my god is it creepy. All I remember while playing is hearing my buddy say "What the fuck is going on? Your character is freaking the fuck out" while meanwhile I'd be watching a bloodied, woman (Carver's wife) start sobbing and walk out of frame. It just makes the skin crawl, and it's great because the co-op doesn't negate any of the horror in the experience at all.

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    The hallucinations Carver will experience. Some of them being these creepy dolls.

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    I still got scared with my buddy beside me. And for people skeptical about the co-op edition, it's by far the best part of this game. It's fun, creepy, terrifying and just a blast to experience. Well worth the $60 just for that experience.

    Weapon Benches are back, but they're a little different this time around. Instead of just simply crafting a weapon blueprint, or buying the weapon from the store you'll have to craft it from materials you find while playing the game. Materials can be found by opening crates, doing side-missions, killing enemies, etc. I think I prefer this system much more because there's so much customization options for your weapons that you're always wanting to try out your new toy.

    There's really nothing like adding incendiary ammo to a shotgun. Really. Feels damn good. The only issue is some of the better blueprints require some pretty high value resources, but if you're one of those people to open up every crate you see you should be fine. But all in all, the weapon crafting is a unique addition even though you can create some pretty over-powered weaponry. You can also create circuits (which upgrade a weapon's firepower, fire-rate, etc) and other helpful items such as Medkits, Ammo, Stasis Packs, and more.

    You'll also be dealing with some new types of Necromorphs. There's the ones you've encountered in previous games, but also some new ones. I can't exactly remember all the names but I think by far the most horrific one was these ones that moved really jerkily, and had flashlights. The light bobbing around, mixed with the jerky movements and weird, regurgitating sounds really had me on edge. Plus, these guys are damn fast. Luckily you can just use your Stasis module (which slows down objects, and enemies) and dispatch them with your guns while they're essentially standing still.

    Another creepy new enemy are the "Feeders" which are essentially humans who have eaten infected flesh. They're blind, and extremely dangerous in swarms. There's a part around Chapter 9 where you'll have navigate through a den of them, and you get an achievement for not alerting any of them. A cool mechanic they introduced for these enemies if you can throw objects around with your Kinesis (essentially telekinesis) and cause these guys to go investigate the sound. It gets the heart pumping for sure.

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    The blind, new Necropmorphs. The "Feeder".

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    However, some of the Necromorphs feel overpowered unlike previous games and it just feels like a hassle to take them down even if your weapons are the best they can possibly be. It really sucks because it takes moments where you're having fun with the game and causes you to get incredibly stressed and want to put the game down for a bit. It's a shame, but thankfully it doesn't sully the experience as a whole. These experiences are few, and far between.

    There's also multiple bosses this time around and it works out really well. The bosses aren't too much of a struggle, but yet still pose some of a challenge. The bosses are massive, and you get a really rewarding feeling after taking one down. There's also a moment where you get swallowed by one of these bosses and kill it from the inside. It's gross, but fun (even though it reminded me of the Rift Worm from Gears Of War 2 the entire time). However, one boss fight is incredibly stressful because the way to kill the boss isn't that obvious on how to do it, but once you do you feel great. I like that feeling.

    Another issue with the game is the "rock-climbing" bits where you scale the side of a mountain/cliff. The first two are pretty straight-forward, but later on you'll have to fight Necromorphs and dodge falling debris with these challenges and it just ends up becoming a huge pile of stress, that's just so frustrating and not fun. Luckily, these only happen a few times. I didn't enjoy them one bit because the movement while doing this is really touchy, and your character will get stuck on things, and move really awkwardly.

    Puzzles also make a re-appearance in the game, and the co-op specific puzzles are just stupid. Some switches don't work when two players try to open it, and my friend and I got screwed out of opening a chest that required two people because we couldn't get the damn thing to open even though we did everything properly.

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    Tau Volantis. Why I find the environment works. You can't see shit.

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    It would of been better if one person could do the puzzle while the other was look-out instead of having a puzzle where both players had to figure it out. My case being a puzzle where you had to move these circular nodes around, but since the movement is so touchy for this puzzle your friends "node" could literally block yours from moving around, and it just felt unnecessary to open a door. They would of been fine just keeping the standard hacking puzzle.

    My final issue with the game is the last half hour is not fun, and just feels like a chore. You're running from an exploding planet and having to fight Necromorphs along the way while you're outrunning a debris field. Some people might enjoy this tense moment, but I didn't. Too many Necromorphs, and taking out some enemies took some time and most of the time we got killed by the debris. This could also stem from us playing on the Hard difficulty.

    Other than those issues the game feels really great to play, and it's incredibly fun. There's a ton of collectibles if you're one of those people, and each collectible helps reveal some more of the past/backstory of the game.

    Tau Volantis also works really great as a new environment because being outside in the blizzard conditions you can barely see five feet in front of you. It puts you on edge not knowing where a Necromorph will be, and you can only hear the wind howling. The new environment works wonders, and captures a whole new horror feel for Dead Space. Fans of John Carpenter's "The Thing" may feel some awesome nostalgia when playing on Tau Volantis. I couldn't get enough of the planet.

    And the game definitely keeps it's horror roots, and isn't as action oriented as some reviews have been. The game is still scary, but just not as scary as Dead Space, and Dead Space 2.

    [CENTER]Final Thoughts
    Dead Space 3 is a great game, and still captures those amazing horror moments you'd expect from the franchise. It's extremely story-driven, and tells a great story from beginning to end. Fans of Dead Space should enjoy this game, and the co-op element is nothing but great times and doesn't remove any horror aspects what so ever.

    Even though there's some hiccups with puzzles, overpowered enemies, and frustrating sequences it didn't take away anything from the end product. It may not be the best of the three games (Dead Space 2 is still the strongest of the three) but it's still a fun, entertaining and scary game. A great way to start off 2013.

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  • Thanks for the review! Glad to hear the co op was done well

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