Dead Space returns, bringing the plague of horrifying necromorphs with it once again. The game turns its focus from dark and claustrophobic spaceships to the ice-driven snowscapes of Tau Volantis. The blood-thirsty necromorphs charge out from blizzards unexpectedly, providing just as much scare as if they’d burst from a vent like in the previous games. The icey wilderness of a planet conceals the key to ending the necromorph plague forever, but in order to survive, Isaac needs to battle through the violent landscape which hosts deadlier enemies and brutal elements. He needs to endure avalanches, conquer treacherous ice-climbs, and dismember every deadly necromorph that stands in his way.
You continue to follow the unlucky life of engineer Isaac Clarke. The game begins with Isaac hiding, attempting to escape the mentally and physically controlling powers of the markers that plagued him visions of his dead girlfriend and severe dementia. He doesn’t stay hidden for long as he reluctantly takes up the fight to protect the human race from the mysterious markers and their lethal necromorphs. Isaac only agrees to fight in hope of rescuing Ellie, his missing girlfriend who returns from Dead Space 2.
One of the greatest additions to the game is the co-op option. Isaac teams up with merciless take-no-shit soldier John Carver to embark on a mission through space to find the source of the necromorph outbreak. It is common that co-op games usually don’t give the second player (in this case John Carver) a storyline or purpose of their own, but Dead Space 3 has overcome this. Throughout the whole campaign players see everything through the eyes of the character they are playing as. Both characters are gradually going insane, as a result of this; each player will see and hear different things. This was my favourite aspect of the game. When I played it through on co-op mode, I played as Carver. To give you a little insight into what I’m talking about, when my friend (as Isaac) walked into a deserted spaceship room, he saw body bags, whereas I saw a massive birthday cake and heard voices! It added a sense of eeriness to the game as I was constantly feeling the need to ask my partner if he was seeing or hearing the same things as me, and in a lot of cases he wasn’t, which was intense and effective; it made me feel like I was on my own. The co-op addition and unreliable narration works well as players have been given the opportunity to play the game three ways, as Isaac in single player, or as Isaac or Carver in co-op mode.
Although the co-op mode is enjoyable, I did find that it took some of the scare factor away from the game. When you play on your own you have to rely on yourself and therefore the scare is more effective as you cautiously advance throughout the game, in case some deadly creature leaps out at you. The fear dissipates when you realize you will always have someone behind you to back you up if you fall. Instead of feeling like a survival horror, it feels more like an action in some parts as you find yourself shooting the shit out of everything. You can run through the game less carefully knowing you have a partner who has you covered.
Crash-landed on the frozen planet of Tau Volantis, Isaac and Carver are forced to search and scavenge the harsh environment for basic materials and parts. The discovery of scavenged parts is made easier by the use of scavenger bots. These are equipped with a tracking device which leads you to places in the game where you can leave the bot to pick up parts and they will later return to a bench. You can save up parts to put your engineering skills to the test by creating and customizing weapons and survival tools. The enhanced weapon crafting system is by far the greatest addition to the series. Players can create their own guns to suit their necromorph killing style. If you’re like me and you like close gory combat, I equipped my gun with a flamethrower as the upper tool and a high damage fully automatic machine gun as the lower tool. You can also customize the gun further to have certain effects, for instance, my machine gun had an acid bath attachment, which gradually dealt more damage and burnt enemies even after I’d finished shooting them. The customisation makes the players creature-slaying capabilities all the more gratifying.
There was a time when you would be stood in a dark corridor, realising that you only have a miniscule amount of ammo and med packs in your inventory, with a horrendous necromorph charging at you, flailing its sharp limbs. You would have to time the shots perfectly to dismember the creature’s limbs and render it helpless. In Dead Space 3, you may have times like this – but they are rare. The game is more action-packed with ammo planted very generously across the game. I have to say that the focus on action for the co-op side of things is good as you get to experience a thrill of running at the monsters all guns blazing with your partner, but it unfortunately decreases the single player scare factor.
Visceral and EA have created a brilliantly built world and a well-crafted combat system. Despite the fact that the game has undoubtedly lost a lot of its scare factor and the element of creepiness has decreased, the game is still engrossing and satisfying. Isaac’s character has unfortunately become less exciting as loses his mind and willpower; therefore we must ignore this and focus on crafting the best weapon and the best suit for Isaac that is available. The customisation and enthralling action scenes within this game, with the occasional jumps and scares, makes this a game well worth playing. It is enjoyable, satisfying, gory, thrilling fun.
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