Review by redsoxfanx8

"An enjoyable third installment that tones down the scares"

Let me start off this review but stating that Dead Space 3 is an extremely underrated game. That being said series protagonist Isaac Clarke's newest endeavor is not as scary or memorable as the past two games. Let's face it, after playing the first two installments, gamers basically know pretty much any scare being thrown at them. The developers at Visceral Games knew this so they instead focused on reinventing the series and making the game more thrill based. The product that they released does an admirable job at completing these goals and is a very enjoyable game.

Story: 7/10
The story is definitely the weakest part of Dead Space 3. In this installment main character Isaac Clarke is trying to stay off the map after the haunting experience he had on the Ishimura and Titan Station from the first two games. Unfortunately for him, he is thrown back into his battle against the alien artifacts called markers. Markers reanimate dead tissue and converts them into the twisted beings known as necromorphs which spread the infection by killing off more humans. While Isaac is residing on a lunar station he is thrust back into battle by Captain Robert Norton and Sgt. John Carver, members of Earthgov's last battalion that need a “marker expert” to assist them. Now this is where the story becomes convoluted. The group is attacked by extremist members of the Church of Unitology (which is pretty much a cult that believes that the Markers are sacred) who commit genocide and activate the markers to spread the necromorph infection. They escape narrowly and try to find Isaac's ex-girlfriend Ellie Langford in a long-abandoned spaceship fleet. This section of the game is undoubtedly the creepiest because of the dark, cramped, and gloomy interior of the ships. I do not want to spoil the story but it becomes saturated with annoying bits such as a pointless love triangle and plot holes. By the end of the game, the plot has become almost nonsensical. Not every part of the story is bad though. I found one bright spot to be Jacob Danik, the main antagonist of the game. Danik, an avid unitolgist who spreads the infection is a great enemy. He continually thwarts Isaac's progress and questions his dedication throughout the game. Another great part of the story is the added optional quests because they add bits to the backstory of the necromorph outbreak that happened over two hundred years ago. Some of these quests are unlocked only by playing co-op and add bits of information about John Carver's haunting past. As always in Dead Space games, picking up scattered or hidden audio and text logs adds to the atmosphere and overall story making them a great addition to the game. Dead Space 3's story is a slight blemish to an overall good game.

Gameplay: 9/10

Crafting
This is perhaps my favorite new addition to the game. When I first heard about Dead Space 3's new weapon crafting system, I figured it was going to fail and be a horrible addition. To my surprise, the system is an in-depth and very helpful feature. When you get to a workbench, the game greets you with a tutorial that basically teaches you absolutely nothing about crafting new weapons. After some testing and analysis, I finally got the hang of the system. After that I was able to create awesome new powerful weapons to defeat the increasingly difficult hordes of necromorphs. With this feature you can make an acid spewing flamethrower, a grenade launcher attached to a line-gun, and a rotating ripper with electrical rounds. Virtually any combination you can think of is possible. The game encourages you to test out new weapons by allowing you to disassemble the ones you do not like for every single part back. This system of not punishing the player creates a much more enjoyable experience. Another cool part of the crafting section is that after you craft the weapon of your dreams, you can create a blueprint of it. You can send this blueprint to your online friends so that they can make an exact replica of your weapon. The option of making the most powerful weapons will not be available right away. Before you create an epic weapon, you will have to gather many resources. Resources can be gained from loot chests, dead enemies, and by using the new feature of scavenger bots. Scavenger bots are robots that you can deploy that will gather resources for you and then return to the workbench. Working for these resources makes the creating the weapons a better and more challenging experience because resource management becomes a necessity.

Combat
The combat in Dead Space 3 feels very visceral and fluid. Isaac is more mobile than in the past two games because of some new features such as the combat roll and crouching. Like in the last game, the only way to get items from dead corpses is to stomp on them post-mortem which adds to the scares by allowing enemies to feign death and then jump up at you while you are stomping away. Multiple new necromorphs have been added to the game and several classic ones have returned. You will have to quickly learn the best ways to dismember the news ones or struggle throughout the game. Unlike past entries, most enemy encounters are with huge hordes of enemies. This adds to the thrills because the large number of enemies can be overwhelming. Unfortunately it messes with the pacing of the game and can get quite annoying (especially on the harder difficulty settings). You will find that the game pretty much forces you to make new crafted weapons to keep up with the necromorphs which seem to grow stronger in both numbers and health every chapter. One part of the combat that was a large misstep was the human enemy encounters. All of these encounters are bland and neither thrilling nor scary. They also lessen the atmosphere because you know that many other humans are surviving. It alienates the loneliness that the first two games mastered.

Co-op
Playing Dead Space 3 cooperatively with a friend obviously eliminates many of the games scares. Luckily, Carver is not with you (with the exception of some of the cutscenes) when you are playing single player mode. Having another human player with you makes the game much easier so playing on harder difficulties is a must to keep up the intensity. Co-op is a great addition but has a drawback. I was disappointed when I discovered that you can't play co-op mode locally (splitscreen). The only way you will be playing with a friend is by playing online.

Graphics/Visuals: 9/10
Dead Space 3 has good graphics and dark visuals that lend to the eerie atmosphere. The graphics are an upgrade from the previous games with better textures and character models. The always superb lighting of dead space games is what gives this section the merit of a high score. Flickering lights that show shine on horrific images but are dim in the dark corridors and corners make the game much more tense and scary. The planet of Tau Volantis is a harsh but also strangely beautiful setting. The jagged mountain peaks, glowing sunsets, and blinding snow make the game ascetically pleasing, but at the same time still manages to be unsettling and even vaguely creepy. Many gamers criticized the daylight from the planet sections when the trailers came out but I can assure you that it works well in Dead Space 3 because the blizzards and unyielding cold give it a tense feeling. The limited visibility from the white out conditions makes you wonder what can be lurking close to you. Also the necromorphs are buried in the snow and can pop up from literally right under your feet and surprise you. One of the bad things about this game's visuals is that some sections look nearly identical to others which gives repetitive feel.

Sound/Audio Effects: 10/10
Dead Space 3's masterfully created audio is what truly makes the game so atmospheric. It is clear that the developers spent a lot of time on audio effects from the creepy creaking noises coming from the ventilation shafts to the lonely sound of the wind howling. These effects give the game an eerie vibe and keep the tension running high throughout the game. The voice acting for the most part is great but there were a couple of times when a couple of the characters sounded a bit bored. Without its phenomenal audio, Dead Space 3 would not be nearly as good of a game as it is.

Pros
-Awesome weapon crafting system
-Drop in and out co-op
-Awesome sound effects
-Eerie lighting and visuals
-Great replayability from new game+ modes
-More necromorphs
-Tense atmosphere
-Well used third-person camera
-Cool antagonist
-Collectible audio and text logs
-Optional side quests

Cons
-Convoluted story
-Some visually repetitive areas
-Enemies will horde you
-Not as scary/creepy as the past two games
-EA's microtransactions
-Bland human enemies

The Verdict
Overall Dead Space 3 is a flawed but still extremely enjoyable game. Although it's not as scary as the first two games, its new features are steps forward in the series. I would recommend picking up this game. Even if you are not a huge fan of survival horror games, the co-op mode will let you have an extremely fun time shredding necromorphs to pieces with your friends. The high replayability value that this game has makes it a worthwhile investment. Dead Space 3 is a very good game and deserves the score of 8/10.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/20/13

Game Release: Dead Space 3 (US, 02/05/13)


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