Dead Space 3 – PC
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Nerd Rating: 7.5/10
Reviewed by Proto Joe
I was pretty satisfied with Dead Space and Dead Space 2, so I had high hopes for Dead Space 3 when I heard it was coming out. Even after I learned that most of the game would take place on a barren, icy planet instead of the harsh depths of space like the last two games, I was still eager to play it. I mean, as long as Dead Space 3 keeps the franchise’s tense but thrilling survival horror gameplay, it doesn’t really matter where I’m fighting for my life, right?… Well, they changed more than just the scenery. Apparently Electronic Arts thought that the last two Dead Space games were too scary for gamers, so they forced Visceral Games to make some changes to Dead Space 3. The result: a generic action shooter that’s decent enough but lacks the tensity and creepiness that makes the Dead Space series so enjoyable.
First, let’s go over the story. If you played the last two games in the series, you’ll recall how they lured you in with the creepy mystery of the artifacts known as “Markers” and their strange ability to transform humans into grotesque Necromorphs. Dead Space 3 takes this intriguing tale of secrets and death, pushes it into the background, and instead forces you to watch cutscene after cutscene of characters constantly fighting with one another over petty things. While the game does have some interesting twists to reveal about the Markers and their purpose, it puts more focus on far less interesting conflicts… like love triangles. Because that’s exactly what players want from an deep space horror story. Love triangles straight out of a daytime soap opera. It doesn’t help that all the characters in Dead Space 3 are either absolute pricks or bland retreads of characters we’ve already seen earlier in the series. Even Isaac Clarke, the tired but determined engineer we’ve played as and rooted for in the last two Dead Space games, seems to have taken a level in jerkass and transformed into a self-hating wreck who constantly mopes over his lost girlfriend and acts like he doesn’t want to be in the game at all. It’s as if the game’s writers decided to toss all of Isaac’s past character development away so they could wring out some more trite drama from him.
The gameplay for Dead Space 3 isn’t quite as disappointing as its story since it still follows the formula of “wander around a spooky place while shooting off Necromorph limbs and scrounging up supplies.” However, the developers added a couple of changes into the mix that cut into the game’s horror, one of them being a co-op mode. Yes, now your friend can join you as John Carver, a rather boring soldier who’s a near carbon copy of the guilt-ridden Isaac Clarke we’ve already seen in older games. Admittedly, it’s actually quite fun blasting through rooms of Necromorphs with a partner, and the co-op mode is surprisingly well-made compared to Dead Space 2’s half-hearted attempt at multiplayer. The problem is that, much like watching a scary movie with a friend or going into a haunted house with a group of folks, having another player fighting alongside you really hampers the game’s ability to terrify you. You could always just play Dead Space 3 by yourself, but you’ll miss out on several co-op only missions in the game. You’re more or less forced to go into co-op mode a few times if you’re looking to complete Dead Space 3 100%.
Another major change is the Bench system. This requires a bit of explaining. In the old Dead Space games, you found supplies as you progressed through the game and explored the environment, and you had to make do with whatever weird weapons you could get your hands on in order to survive. In Dead Space 3, that’s no longer the case. Though you can still find some health and ammo lying around, you’ll need to gather materials like semi-conductors and scrap metal from enemies you’ve killed so you can build your own useful goods and guns at a Bench. Speaking of guns, the amount of different guns you can make in this game is staggering. Since you can mix and match gun parts, you’re able to craft just about any weapon you can think of. Sniper rifle with a sledgehammer attached to the bottom? Totally possible. Flamethrower with a backup shotgun thrown in? Go for it.
The Bench sounds awesome, right? It is. Actually, it’s a bit too awesome. There’s something of a learning curve to the Bench because the game does a rather poor job of teaching it to you. However, once you’ve learned how to use it, the rest of Dead Space 3 becomes ridiculously easy since you can make the best equipment in the game almost immediately. During my own personal playthrough of the game, I was able to create a high-powered lightning gun that could clear entire hordes of Necromorphs with ease, and I wasn’t even half-way through the game yet. Because I knew I could effortlessly obliterate anything that crossed my path, I never felt the fear and tension that haunted me in the older Dead Space games.
That’s the biggest problem with Dead Space 3, really: it’s not scary. The last two Dead Space games may not have been the scariest, but they were enough to at least keep you on the edge and constantly dreading every shadow you walked past. In Dead Space 3, there’s nothing to be afraid of since you’re simply too damn powerful. You always have a souped up gun you just made or a buddy you grabbed online watching your back. In other words, you don’t have to worry about survival or horror, and while that might be fine in a typical “blow up everything in sight” action shooter, Dead Space 3 is supposed to be a survival horror game. You want to be caught off-guard! You want to scream!
So, if you’re looking for yet another vanilla action game, you might want to look into Dead Space 3. If you were a fan of the Dead Space franchise like me and wanted a new, exciting entry in the series, however, you’re only going to find a disappointing dead end.
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