Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No Space For Fear... Dead Space 3 Review

Visceral Minds

The beginning of the Dead Space franchise will turn into a five year demented child this October. A King Diamond's 'Abigail', if you will. Another cult following to AAA EA title, the original Dead Space was a huge Sci-Fi scare, at least, to most. To me, it was beyond any scary, horrific game or experience in comparison, at the time. Sure, it was and is no Slender, but as a full length game, it combined the perfect blend of action, horror and, even a bit of puzzle elements in a creepy narrative with a real humanistic undertone in the grand story arch.

Here is the thing, ha ha, like the movie. If you couldn't already tell or your're just too young to want to see it; the movie, "The Thing" was the largest creature style influence on Dead Space. Fortunately, in Dead Space, you can actually kill these things. The real 'thing' I want to skim over is the sick, twisted, and even friendly game developer, Visceral Games. When the company was born, it was basically another company name under EA, where, based on their location, was cleverly named EA Redwood Shores. Under that name, they would go to make two 007 and LOTR games, The Godfather I&II, and the first Dead Space. I would only guess that the company's name change was to be eponymous with one word that could best describe their most original game, visceral. Then, a Dead Space Wii game was soon to come, along with Dante's Inferno. Now it's been only Dead Space games up yours truly and soon, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel. To think, it has already been 2 years since the launch of Dead Space 2; makes you feel old... Was this break and long awaited return of my favorite horror series worth to see a Cabin in the Woods or is this another game horrorbly morphed into the action genre?

Is More Really Less?

F**K NO! Let's get to the new stuff right away. From pointless competitive multiplayer in the second game, EA-uh-I mean Visceral Games, decided to put co-op in this iteration. I will say at first thought, like most others, was this game just got less scary. Let me tell you, the horror within the story is amplified in the co-op missions, as John Carver enters the same violent dementia Isaac did last time. Be sure to prepare Isaac to be helpless and Carver to be horrified as he battles his own "Nicole". Dead Space 3 also adds a few optional missions that give more insight on the game's story. Some of the missions do have very similar level designs, but still are interesting to have. Something that sure horrified some other gamers, t-t-the word, of the devil! Micro-transactions... What's the big deal? People that have time to play the game, such as the fans and even some newcomers will really have no problem here. You don't need to pay to get a great advantage. I'm sorry that some people want a game to spend no time and effort in completing. Remember that Mass Effect 3 multiplayer has micro-transactions and there is no problem if you just play the damn game! Find those glitches that EA won't fix while you're at it and stop crying. I will say though, what really aggravates me is EA forcing out these Day-One DLCs, shame on them for that garbage. Now that we finished with the complained additions to Dead Space 3, can we please get to something good?

I Got Some Duck Tape!

Resource management is what makes a horror game, survival; and the previous games did have some of this with limited slots, random unwanted item pickups, and a store system. I realized during Dead Space 2, after 3 playthroughs, I had so many items, it didn't feel like survival anymore. The original Dead Space had slow movement, clunky controls, and less item drops that still makes it terrifying today. Dead Space 3 doesn't feature credits anymore, but different resource materials you can gather with new Scavenger Bots. These new friends can sense very feasible "scavenging" areas. With the 1 plus robots, they will gather materials for crafting items. It is quite tedious to find the points and drop the bot and then go to the crafting bench, but it's worth it. Craft-able items are everything! You can craft Health Packs, universal ammo. and even weapon parts! Weapon crafting was a huge deal, because we could now play Dead Space the way we want to. You can literally build any weapon combo in this game: Carbine/Ripper Blade, SMG/Plasma Cutter, ect. You can even add attachments that can help you and your co-op partner as well. Materials can also be used to upgrade your RIG. One gripe I have, is with picking up the resource boxes, weapon attachments, and upgrades when you are running out of space. You cannot drop any of those items! It would be neat if you could drop the Scavenger Bot, that could carry your newly found items to the bench. At least update it to let us drop them!

Thinking With Stasis!

As an engineer, Isaac needs to stay in practice! The main Dead Space games always wanted you to think to figure out quasi-puzzles and do other certain hack jobs to get around those Necros. Each new game seemed to add a couple new mechanisms in the world. Dead Space 3 includes all the same, plus many more. Most of the puzzles at the beginning seemed to be too easy and even babyish in completion. I will say that this game does have slightly annoying tutorials that seem to go away later in the game, which is only good for the noobs. After all that hand-holding, some of the later puzzles begin to get a little cryptic and soon you just keep trying random ideas until the light changes to blue. Makes you think 'til rage, I'd say. This is another thing that makes me rage, there are no save stations anymore! I really enjoyed that futuristic Resident Evil typewriter and now you have to wait an unknown amount of time until a save hits. It is also aggravating when it does not tell you when a checkpoint is reached. There were many times I died and I assumed a checkpoint was reached, but NNOOOOPE! What adds to that is the difficulty. It's overall a harder game now. It's good, I mean I wanted that, but I think asked for a bit too much. I love these games, so just more time to play it!

'Til We Die

I always enjoyed the story-line of Dead Space, to say the least. Original? Not really, but it took quite a few elements from already creepy horror stories and made it something special. To me, this game is a horrific metaphor for all the troubles us humans and our sick natural thoughts go through all the bad times life and how if we don't get past those times, we could die. Not trying to be melancholic and philosophical or anything, just what this game has kinda meant to me. It can really make it a good experience to add your own life to and immerse in as well. The final story is fair to say the most, but it's not bad to say at all. The story does what it can to slowly wrap up such a awesome and chaotic strung up narrative. I want to take this time to explain why a series ending story can be a question of quality. With Mass Effect 3, there was so much crap happening  someone had to go. The "perfect ending" is a cliche and it does not make you reflect on your own life and world we're all stuck in. If you want a happy game, your shallow, and not really a legit gamer. I give Bioware credit for a ending like that. How could a game as crazy and messed up as this have a "good" ending? Once I knew another Dead Space was coming I knew this was a series that our protagonist would not finish it out alive. Don't worry, I have not completed the game yet; I got the last chapter to go. Let's see how the characters deal with this epitaph.

To Save Humanity

The characters have always had a large part of the Dead Space series. Even when Isaac didn't speak, Nicole, Hammond, Kendra, Dr. Kyne, Mercer, and various logs kept the motivation and momentum of the game. Then Isaac finally spoke, and he added more to the life of Dead Space. Dead Space 3 if you have not guessed, is all the same and it's never better. I've have snooped about to find that some people refrain from calling these characters 'memorable'. If realistic is not memorable, then take a look in the mirror. How would you like to go through this scenario? Depressed, angry, and argumentative is something out of The Walking Dead and it's what you would see in a game like this. It makes you feel better that you are not there, with a bit of extremely dark humor tacked on to give some life. Everyone in this game is a  reluctant participant and Isaac is the one who will not stop until he dies or it's all over. We cannot forget the crazy religious character that is ignorant beyond comparison  He is less inspired, but the others make it up. I enjoyed the characters and will remember them as pretty decent 'last ones' to end a great series.

Cold As Ice

The first two Dead Space games always held the player in tight corridors with the slight potential for a jump scare. Dead Space also had very disturbing moments to try and make the player cringe. At so many times, moments in the original game gave me nightmares for nights. I could not even play it for certain extended periods of time. Then Dead Space 2 came out and still gave me a similar effect, but maybe I was too desensitized by the first one. After playing this, I can safely say that Dead Space 2 just a bit scarier, but doesn't contain the amount of anticipation and intensity that the current game has. It's mainly due to it losing the dementia sequences and some of the unpredictably. Do not fret, Dead Space 3 stills has it's creepy and jumpy moments that we've come to enjoy. At the beginning of Dead Space 3, Isaac revisits the cold ship corridors that gave this franchise it's Alien-like quality. Then following a very nicely rendered crash sequence, you wake up in a winter hell. Right out of the bag, having low visibility, immediately made me think of Silent Hill. Dead Space 3 retains that feeling of claustrophobia, while somehow adding kenophobia with a solid black fog wall. This game takes the environment horror of Silent Hill and The Thing, and conveys them together really well. The setting does break into familiar corridors occasionally.  I will say that it is nice to get a break from the unknown cold, once in a while. Then you go inside to find what lurks in the dark.

Who Goes There?

The first question you ask before running for your life in first time you see and hear the scariest creatures in video game history, the Necromorphs. The design and sound of these creatures is terrifying in every way imaginable and gave me blood curdling nightmares, until I learned to destroy them with ease. The fear still lingers on, even in Dead Space 3. At first, I saw that the Necromorphs appeared less bloody and more dirty color, I thought they really toned down the fleshy-ness and therefore less scary. I soon realized the fact that they could pop out from the snow from anywhere and charged faster. The glowing eyes always get me though. Regardless of how they appear, they sound more horrific than before. The new "Feeders" might sound silly at first, but you will feel them rip you to pieces. You will fear that noise and they won't stop until you die! The music added to this game kinda sounded like Batman and Bladerunner combined, it's good, but too odd. When that cliche epic Sci-Fi music picks up, the game's intensity really ramp's up and can knock you around. There are also many moments when you get hit by some "Shining-like" chiller sound effects that makes it feel like this horror has been experienced before, but Dead Space 3 holds it's own just below the original game.

It's Dead For Now

Another trilogy has ended, and only time will tell when EA will force more out. Until that time, Dead Space has ended, at least I think. Dead Space 3 adds some neat, new gameplay features that have a fresh impact on the game. It also has had taken away some familiar features that can make the game a bit aggravating from time to time. The story grabs you to wrap up as neatly as possible with characters I could tolerate. The scare factor is a little less present than the last game, and that might be because of the intense action. This is really expected, but not praised in this period of gaming. Visceral Games also borrows horror elements from other stories and can still freak the hell out of people. Dead Space 3 may not live up to already, very high expectations or even compete with the first title, but it holds up just a bit higher than the previous game. It ends as good as it can, and what more could you ask for? If your a fan, you'll need it and if your new, just rent the game or buy the first one for cheap. If you like horror games, but never played this, then try the Demo. Looking back, I did really overrated Dead Space 2 by some, but Dead Space 3 earns 4 1/2 rich eggs out of 6.

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