Monday, May 5, 2014

Dead Space 3

Developed by Visceral Games
Published by Electronic Arts

     People who have been reading this blog since the start (or have gone back to the first entry) will remember the first review I ever did for it: Dead Space 2. It's been a long time since that first review, but now we finally come around to the latest Dead Space entry. And while Dead Space 2 was sublime, Dead Space 3 is a significant step down.
     Isaac Clarke (Gunner Wright) is broken after the events of the second game. But the Unitologists are still attempting to build more Markers and turn everybody into Necromorphs. Isaac has to team up with the remnants of EarthGov to head to the Marker homeworld, where they just may be able to stop the Markers once and for all.
     The biggest change of the game comes with the new crafting system. Rather than having a shop, there's several resources you need to gather to get upgrades and build new weapons. In theory, this was supposed to help the player use several different weapons throughout. In practice, it's awful. The crafting bench is clunky, requiring going through several submenus just to even find out if you can change a weapon. It slows the game down to a halt. And then there's the very simple fact that I saw little reason to actually change my weapons. I gave them some mods and some secondary powers, but at the end of the day, I used a total of 3 weapons to get through the entire game. It certainly doesn't help matters that you now only have room for 2 weapons in your inventory. It's a very simple and outright failure.
     And in general, the series seems like it's spinning its wheels here for innovation. The new enemies aren't very interesting, or scary to fight. And even enemies that were exciting before, like the Stalkers, seem like they're ruined by bad AI and placement. The addition of sidequests along the way feels more tedious than anything. Sometimes you get some good story out of it, but mostly it's a long quest through excessive amounts of enemies just for...some additional resources. They also throw in soldiers for you to fight along with Necromorphs. It ruins the tone. The human enemies are easy to kill and just not very exciting to fight. And the mood of the game is starkly different. Most notably, the psychological aspects that made the previous games interesting are gone. There's no big twists about things not being as they seem, they just...are.
     This might all seem like I hated the game. And as disappointed as I was...overall, I did enjoy it well enough. The scope of the game, going from Earth to a flotilla of ships to the icy Tau Volantis is incredible. While having a planet means there's less zero gravity segments, there's plenty of interesting parts there. One of the best is, after Isaac's suit is broken, you're forced to run from heat source to heat source. I actually wish they had used that more, because it was thrilling. And when the game does overwhelm you with enemies, it can be appropriately scary to have to constantly run and gun when you can.

     Overall, I'm inbetween on recommending the game, though. At a low price and with measured expectations, it can be fun enough to blast through some space zombies for the third time. But compared to Dead Space 2, this is one giant leap in the wrong direction.

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