Dead Space 3 – Review (PS3)

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I really enjoyed the previous two Dead Space games – the original was a return to the very best of survival horror and while the sequel did get bogged down with enemy encounters I thought it was excellent. So hopes were high for this latest installment, despite some of the negative buzz floating around online.

Set some time after the events of Dead Space 2 – at least long enough for Isaac and Ellie to get together and break up – the game actually opens some 200 years in the past with a nice prologue section. Nice that is, until the shooting started. The first thing I noticed was how different it felt to previous games. Granted you’re using a rifle rather than the plasma cutter that the series is famous for but still I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the handling had changed dramatically.

And it was a feeling I couldn’t quite dismiss throughout the game. As you come back to (Issac’s) present day you regain control of everyone’s favourite space engineer. Forced into helping track down Ellie you’re soon attacked on the way off the planet.

Dead Space 3 brings together the usual necromorph threat with a much higher Unitologist presence than before. And they’re armed, military units. Hell at one stage some of the necromorphs have guns!

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Taking out the necromorphs still feels satisfying but the human enemies didn’t quite have that quality – whether that’s a game design issue (in terms of how the weapons control and the way shots affect enemies) or just because these games haven’t previously been about mowing down other humans, I couldn’t tell you.

I liked the story but I am a sucker for this universe (I’ve watched both animated movies and read the first spin off novel – will be reading the next one soon 🙂 ) so if you’re not invested you might not find it as enjoyable. I didn’t even mind the OTT end part of the game as much as lot of people seemed to.

I did, however, encounter a save problem that almost made me walk away from the game completely. About 4 hrs in I made it to the beginning of a new chapter, let the tram journey (yes trams are back!) finish and then quit to the main menu and out of the game. However next time I loaded the game I was back at the end of the previous chapter about to enter a room where I needed to hold off enemies until the tram showed up to escape on.

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Problem No.1? It was also a chase, so there was an invincible enemy hounding me from the back as well. Problem No.2? It started me with no ammo and a quarter health 😦 There were 7 bullets in the room and I tried for almost an hour to get through it to no avail. I dropped it to ‘easy’ and after another 20 minutes I finally escaped to the tram. The game maintains your save for you and allows only one save per slot.

It was one of the more frustrating things I’ve experienced recently – I mean surely the end of a chapter/beginning of the next one (especially in the haven of a tram) is the *ideal* place to trigger a save? Come on Visceral, that is ridiculous. If you can’t be bothered to organise a proper save system, at least let me choose when to save!

The much maligned ‘micro-transactions’ didn’t effect me at all. They are there is you want to use them but it’s not essential to use them to get through the game.

There are still snatches of the original survival horror roots of Dead Space here but they end up overplayed and you can tell when (and even worse, where) the scares are coming. There are still space exploration parts and that sound drop out still makes for a fantastic experience. But it’s not really about that stuff any more.

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Make no mistake, Dead Space 3 is an action game with these parts added. The balance between horror and action had teetered with the second game but has now tilted fully in favour of run ‘n’ gun action. It isn’t a bad game at all. It’s just not what I want from a Dead Space game.

Rating: 7/10

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