A hollow shell of his former self, Isaac Clarke has been down on his luck ever since parting ways with his ex-girlfriend Ellie. When Unitologist zealots show up on his front door with the intention to kill him, Isaac finds himself caught in the middle of a war between the last remnants of EarthGov and those that want to release the power of the Markers – but this time, he isn’t alone.
All of the media prior to release focused heavily on the Hoth-like snow-covered planet of Tau Volantis. I was pleasantly surprised that while the planet plays a major role in Dead Space 3, it isn’t the only locale for poor Isaac to battle against the Necromorphs – along with insane religious zealots, who are very much alive and fully armed. Derelict ships floating in the upper atmosphere of Tau Volantis provide a traditional Dead Space experience complete with dark, narrow corridors with plenty of hidden vents and various other hiding locations are the norm for the 15-20 it takes to complete the game.
An unnerving atmosphere has always been a staple for the series, but in Dead Space 3, psychological elements take a backseat to “in-your-face” scares. As I slowly made my way across a multiple derelict ships, I remained cautious with weapons drawn. I was right to worry, as Necromorphs burst through just about every air vent along the way. No longer does Isaac feel like a helpless engineer struggling to survive, but instead he fully embraces his destiny and in the process has become quite the efficient Necromorph slayer.
If you have been avoiding the series, the typical bullet-sponge enemies found in many titles won’t be terrorizing Isaac, but instead he struggles for survival against the Necromorphs – essentially monsters from your worst nightmare. The skeletal appearance of the Feeder on Tau Volantis is pure nightmare fuel, there just isn’t any other way to describe it. While the appearance alone makes the hairs on my neck stand up, not being able to hear them sneak up behind you is absolutely terrifying. Aiming for the center mass won’t do much, but instead aim for limbs and appendages if you hope to stand any chance at taking them down. Picking off specific limps with precise shots provides a satisfying feeling, much like headshots due in first-person shooters. Don’t forgot about stumping the lifeless bodies to pieces to collect ammo and other items.
John Carver, a seasoned soldier makes appearances throughout the narrative, helping Isaac during the most opportune moments. During cooperative play, minor adjustments are made to puzzles and the story to accommodate having the extra player. Although Isaac and John play similar, both characters don’t see the world around them the same. Much like the visions that haunted Isaac in the past, John experiences his own hallucinations that affect how he perceives the world around him.
Unlike the first two games in the series, scrap metal and other resources comprise the in-game currency, which is used to craft additional ammo, medkits, or to upgrade weapons and your suit. The deep crafting system allows for weapons to be completely customizable including being able to have both top and bottom weapon attachments, along with a slew of different weapon tips that adjust how each part performs. Every type of weapon utilizes the same ammo, allowing you to mix-and-match without worrying about ammo. Attaching a shotgun to the bottom of a plasma cutter allows for versatility during any situation. Deploying a scavenger bot, resources will be gathered automatically, allowing you to focus on staying alive and not on resource management.
Even without completing or attempting the optional missions, Dead Space 3 features a much longer campaign than its predecessors. These optional missions allow you to explore new areas, and if you are a Dead Space nut or are just loot hungry – like myself – it is well worth your time. Upon completion, four new game+ modes become available; each with their own new set of rules including, Classic mode which disables co-op and only allows classic weapons from the original Dead Space.
Enemy encounters become predictable throughout the entire game. You can almost predict whether something is going to burst through a door, a vent or hallway anytime you interact with the environment by using a switch or calling an elevator. Necromorphs travel in groups, so be prepared to always take down three or more enemies at a time, dragging out engagements longer than they should be. It all becomes tedious, especially after facing consecutive waves of Necromorphs. You won’t feel as frustrated trying to make it back to a save point anymore, thanks to the new auto-save feature.
The tension from being alone in space, trapped with the Necromorphs isn’t as high as it was in the original two Dead Space titles. Having an additional buddy to help you clear the waves of Necromorphs further removes the tense moments, but it does add an additional layer of entertainment. While not as memorable as the co-op in Borderlands 2, Dead Space 3 ranks up there as one of the top experiences of the generation. The story could have benefited by a stronger conclusion, but as it stands, Dead Space 3 is a worthy sequel in the series and most important, of your time and money.
Note: The Dead Space 3 review was written based on the PS3 version of the game.