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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Dead Space 2 – Review (PS3)

As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the first Dead Space, despite not being a fan of jumpy horror stuff, I was really looking forward to the follow up.

Continuing the story of Isaac Clarke it picks up three years after the first game was set, with Clarke now finding himself as a citizen on the Sprawl – a huge space station development on one of Saturn’s moons.

Sadly for Clarke he has no knowledge of the last three years and discovers a situation has arisen that only someone with his expertise can deal with.

The game itself plays similarly to the original but Visceral have upped the pace slightly, which make sense because not all of the Sprawl is as narrow as the Ishimura was.

Dead Space 2 starts with one of the most impressive openings I’ve seen in a while – I remember feeling the same way about the first game.

As you get to grips with everything that is going on around you there will be twists (some I saw coming and a few I didn’t) and plenty of scares.

Visceral continue their great job of creeping you out by NOT throwing stuff at you – I would’ve liked to have seen slightly more of the insanity that featured in NPC’s during the original game but on the whole the Sprawl is definitely somewhere you wouldn’t want to find yourself.

The combat remains the same, with a few new weapons thrown in. Essentially the aim is to dismember as opposed to going for headshots on enemies.

Playing through the first half to two thirds of this game I was certain Visceral had topped the original, such was the craftsmanship on display. A strong story, coupled with superb graphics and atmosphere had me immersed completely.

Unfortunately it seems the developers threw everything into that part of the game as Dead Space 2 loses steam in a big way – resorting to cheap design in the shape of large open areas where you face off against a much bigger number of enemies. While this is called for on one or two occasions due to the plot, it really does become tiresome and frustrating at other times.

Thankfully it picks up again in the final few chapters and finishes with a flourish.

One of the questions when they announced Dead Space 2 would have multiplayer was ‘does it need it?’

The answer is no.

We’ve seen predominantly single player games include multiplayer in impressive and interesting ways (Uncharted 2 and Assassins Creed: Brotherhood to name two) but Dead Space 2 tries to moves the single player to multiplayer – giving one team the human experience and the other team the necromorph experience. It doesn’t really recreate the feel of the single player.

Let me just clarify – it’s not that this is a bad multiplayer, it just feels unnecessary and I suspect the free 48 hour trial will be more than enough for most people.

As a package Dead Space 2 is a slightly lopsided beast – on the one hand you have a bloated but generally excellent single player and on the other an average multiplayer experience.

Despite the fact the single player loses its way for a spell, with a better implementation of online this could’ve been a 10/10 game.

Rating 9/10

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TOP 10 SINGLE PLAYER PS3 GAMES

There are a great deal of amazing online games you can play with your mates *coughs* Killzone 2 *coughs* 😆 on your PS3.

While these are often really rewarding experiences it’s true that sometimes you just fancy going solo, staying ‘signed out’ and hitting some single-player action. Or you haven’t got the internet (Andrew (@shandation) I’m looking at you).

So for those of you looking for something a bit more story based that you can enjoy on your own here is my list of the top 10 best single player games:

10) MIRROR’S EDGE

Mirror’s Edge wowed everyone with its crisp, clean graphics and it’s unique first person perspective.

Obviously a lot of games have a first person viewpoint but most of these are ‘shooters’ whereas Mirror’s Edge is more of a parkour style run and jump adventure.

The game takes place in a slightly futuristic setting, in a city that is totally controlled by the government. They keep tabs on the general population by using surveillance cameras and tracking all forms of electronic communication.

You take on the role on Faith, a “Runner”, who uses rooftops and other means to help deliver physical messages between revolutionary groups within the city. Following on from a set of dramatic events Faith finds herself being hunted by the authorities and has to try to stop the government silencing her.

The perspective takes a while to get used to and it had a few really annoying parts where it was difficult to time jumps etc because of the view but Mirror’s Edge is certainly worth playing through as it offers a style of gameplay that is totally unique in the current games market.

9) RAINBOW SIX VEGAS

If you like your first person shooters with a bit of brain behind the brawn then Rainbow Six Vegas may be the game for you.

You play as Logan Keller a member of the elite Rainbow Six team. Initially sent into a small Mexican border town to flush out a terrorist ringleader. Soon after your escapades south of the border you’re deployed to Las Vegas where a new terrorist threat is imminent.

This game is a lot more tactical than your average fps, for the majority of the game you’ll have two AI teammates with you who you can order to move into position and even get them to ‘stack up’ (ie get ready to enter) at unopened doors.

And you’ll need all the help you can get. This isn’t an easy game and Ubisoft have gone for a more realistic tone. You’re probably looking at two shots before death and it’s possible for enemies to catch you with a headshot and kill you with one bullet.

Luckily your team mates are pretty intelligent and commanding them isn’t a problem.

With a good old fashioned SAS vs Terrorists style plot and lots of fun set pieces Rainbow Six Vegas is definitely worth a shot.

8 ) KANE AND LYNCH

The first of two, in my opinion, vastly underrated PS3 games that make this list.

While not setting the world on fire and suffering from some control/camera issues Kane and Lynch was a brilliant gaming experience.

You take control of Adam ‘Kane’ Marcus, a criminal on his way to death row for crimes committed in Venezuela. Kane is busted out of his prison van by a mysterious group called The7 who he worked with previously. They think Kane stole the money from their last job and stashed it somewhere.

If he doesn’t get them the money back in three weeks his wife and daughter will be killed. Kane claims he doesn’t know where it is but he does know who took the cash and will hunt them down. And so begins a thoroughly enjoyable ride into the desperate life of Kane…

My full review is available here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/lynch-do-this-lynch-do-that-lynch-stop-murdering-the-hostages/

While this game is fairly linear some of the set pieces are really impressive, the bank job and the jailbreak spring to mind immediately as stand out levels.

You can pick this up for as little as £14.99 pre-owned and it’s certainly worth a play through.

7) HEAVENLY SWORD

Another game that didn’t garner the respect it deserves, primarily because it didn’t live up to the pre-release hype.

I played this a while after it came out and wasn’t really effected by the previous hype so I really enjoyed it.

If you like God Of War you will like this game as it’s similar in style but it looks gorgeous in HD and I believe did a few bits (combos/blocking etc) better than the first two God Of War games.

Heavenly Sword tells the story of Nariko, a brutal female warrior whose clan protects the “Heavenly Sword”, a sword from the god’s that actually drains the life from whoever uses it. King Bohan, ruler of the land, wants to get the sword and use it for his own means.

The battles are frantic, often with hundreds of soldiers onscreen at once and the cut scenes have some of the best production values I’ve ever seen.

Heavenly Sword has a great story but is fairly short by game standards – you’re probably looking at around 5-6 hours to finish it however they will be a fun filled few hours!

6) ASSASSIN’S CREED

Assassin’s Creed is the story of bartender Desmond Miles who is kidnapped by a nameless company and awakens to find himself strapped into a machine (The Animus) that unlocks deeply buried memories from Desmond’s ancestors that are intertwined within Desmond’s DNA.

The memory they are interested in is of a man called Altair, an assassin around the year 1191 in the Holy Land.

Effectively you play through Desmond’s memories as Altair (with brief interludes as Desmond struggling to find out what is going on in the present day). You will need to research targets and carry out assassinations using a variety of options – sword, hidden blade, knife etc.

The only problem I had with this game was the initial scouting – you cannot progress into certain areas (your memory is blocked 😮 ) until you have scaled a huge building and surveyed the surrounding area. I found this a bit boring and repetitive however you must stick with the game past this part to get the best of it.

This game is great fun and I’m looking forward to the sequel which is on it’s way.

5) KILLZONE 2

Don’t need to say much about this game really, my review can be found here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/killzone-2-review-ps3/

The multi-player is what everyone has concentrated on and rightly so, however the solo mode is definitely worth playing.

The cinematics are brilliant and some of the set pieces really do feel like you’re there.

While it might not have the best storyline ever written if you have a PS3, whether you plan on getting online or not, this is an essential purchase.

4) GTA IV

One the biggest selling games of this generation GTA IV features the fortunes (and lack thereof) of Niko Bellic – an immigrant arriving in the US at Liberty City to find empty promises and broken dreams from his cousin Roman.

As you work your way up the criminal ladder you’ll encounter all sort of dodgy characters and befriend even more.

The amount of things you can do in GTA IV is mind boggling but never feels overwhelming.

Once you get the hang of the aim and cover systems you will be blasting your way round the city in no time.

This is one of those games you really have to play to believe. The way the world carries on around you, the overheard conversations of other pedestrians, the fact you could play this game for hours experiencing new things without even touching the missions.

Liberty City is a wonderful, if run down, place and Niko Bellic’s story is one you will enjoy playing through so make sure you pick this game up as soon as possible.

3) METAL GEAR SOLID 4

Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Magnum Opus of the PS3.

Hideo Kojima’s tale of Solid Snake’s final mission is a brilliant showcase of the Playstation 3’s power.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is set seven years after the events of the 2nd game (Metal Gear Solid 3 having been a prequel) and sees Snake back in action – but this time as an old man. Because of his accelerated aging process (play the other three games to find out why 😀 ) we find ourselves playing as a hero who is, I suspect, about 60.

Obviously this doesn’t really hamper him too much apart from the odd moan about his back giving him jip 😆 and where the previous games featured mainly stealth, Metal Gear 4 allows you to be a bit more gung ho.

This is a game that often gives you three or four different ways of approaching things – whether you realise it or not.

One thing about the story is that the cut scenes can be long – and I mean long. Some of them clocked in well over half an hour and obviously that’s a fair while to just sit watching.

But this is one game that rewards those patient enough to stick with it by giving them a great gaming experience, with some memorable boss battles, that they won’t forget.

2) DEAD SPACE

Coming on somewhere between Event Horizon and Aliens, Dead Space is a third person survival horror game.

You take on the role of Isaac Clarke, a ship engineer who finds himself trapped onboard a stricken spaceship infested with an alien outbreak which is threatening to take over the ship.

Full review of the game here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/dead-space-review/

Needless to say this was one of the best games I played last year and it deserves to be above both GTA IV and Metal Gear 4 for its storytelling and atmospheric setting.

The use of sound is immense and the fear of the unexpected they create is awesome. I am not a big fan of horror movies or being made to jump all the time but Dead Space kept on the right side of all that by being unpredictable enough to be enjoyable as a ‘horror’ experience.

1) UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE

Nathan Drake, the character you control, is an explorer and treasure hunter.

Uncharted maps his journey as he tries to find the lost treasure of El Dorado encountering, among other things, rival treasure hunters and mercenaries.

Initial impressions article here: https://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/uncharted-drakes-fortune-quality/

I still maintain this is possibly the best PS3 game I have played as an overall experience.

The graphics are unbelievable and the gameplay is well paced and well thought out. The characters and story and really well conceived and Nolan North, who voices Drake, is absolutely spot on with his irreverent humour and wisecracks.

At its heart Uncharted is an action adventure game much in the vein of Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider but, and I say this as a fan of both of these, it is better than either of them.

There is no reason for anyone not to buy this as it’s now in the platinum range (£19.99) and can actually be bought online for as little as £14.99. Get it.. now!

So there you have it.

This list is obviously based on stuff I have played and enjoyed so there are bound to be a few great games missing (Bioshock, which I must get at some stage, Call Of Duty (although again I’ve heard that is stronger in multi-player?) and Resi Evil 5 but I’ve only played a couple of levels of that so far).

I have to give an honourable mention as well to Fallout 3 – I am nowhere near finishing this as the game is absolutely huge with tons to do and lots of different ways for your character to affect the story. If you’re looking for a game to get lost in for ages, as opposed to the usual 8-12 hours, I would give this a thumbs up.

The list above was formed with shorter bursts of gaming in mind and with a view to gamers who’d rather finish a few 10 hour games than start four or five 30+ hour games and never get to the end of them!

Feel free to add any games you’ve enjoyed in the comments that might have been left off the list.