Review by CrimsonGear80

"Remember to use your ass as a flotation device after it gets chewed off in Zero-G."

Last year, EA proved they aren't just those “Evil Madden guys” when they released their survival-horror magnum opus Dead Space. While not a wholly original entry in the genre, Dead Space did what it did extremely well and earned almost universal praise and great sales. However, while the PS3 and 360 had all the bloody fun, the Wii was (as it usually is unfortunately) left out in the cold. But fear not, as EA and DS devs Visceral Games decided to take a page from Capcom's book and give Wii owners a whole new Dead Space game set up as a first-person rail shooter. Now, Dead Space: Extraction aims to give players a more guided experience while they rip apart walking alien corpses with extreme prejudice…and it does so with great, if not somewhat flawed, results.

BEFORE ISAAC, THERE WAS NATE!

Extraction serves as a prequel to last year's game, detailing the events from finding the Red Marker on Aegis VII to the eventual Necromorph infestation of the colony and of the U.S.G. Ishimura . The story is actually told through the eyes of multiple characters, but for the most part you'll be playing as Nate McNeil, a detective assigned to investigate the murders and suicides that have been taking place on the space colony Aegis VII shortly after the discovery of a mysterious Red Marker inside the planet. Faster than you can say “Ahhh, here it goes!”, all hell breaks loose on Aegis VII as the colonists start to go insane and murder each other, trapping Nate and his small group of survivors in the middle of it all. Their plan is to get off the colony and head for the Ishimura, where they hope for a safe haven. Yeah…totally safe there I'm sure…

Unlike most other on-rail shooters, Extraction tells a engaging and entertaining tale, with excellent writing and characters you'll actually give a damn about (some familiar faces will pop up as well). All events and dialogue take place in-game while never leaving the first-person perspective, putting the presentation a step above similar games like House of The Dead and RE: Umbrella Chronicles, where the most you got was a few one-liners during gameplay and end-level cut-scenes. Like last year's game, expect some twists and turns on your way to the game's somewhat abrupt, but very open ending.

TAKE UP THY REMOTE-CONTROLLED SAW BLADE AND WALK

As has already been said, Extraction is an on-rails shooter that's more in the vein of Umbrella Chronicles than it is a House of The Dead game. What that means is that this is more of a guided adventure game than an all out shoot-fest. Through the games 10 chapters, you'll have to open doors manually, long stretches will pass where no action takes place except for dialogue exchanges and story events, and no doubt those actually looking for an all out shoot-fest will be slightly disappointed. However, to me and those fans of the original game this is Dead Space, the way the dread is built up and the tension rises before the big pay offs. Stand-outs include the various hallucinations the characters will start to experience and the sequences where your slowly moving through a dark and narrow vent not knowing when something will come out of the darkness. It may not be as scary or effective as last year's game, but the fact that Visceral translated them so well to an on-rails game makes Extraction stand-out from those other shooters, even Umbrella Chronicles.

Shooting mechanics are pretty straight-forward: aim with the Wii-mote using the cursor on-screen and fire with the B trigger. You can reload when your out of ammo by pressing the B trigger again or at anytime by pressing the Z button on the nunchuck, and what's pretty cool is that you can activate a “timed” reload by pressing the Z button again when the reloading gauge that's on the cursor reaches a certain “sweet spot”, allowing for an instant reload of your weapon. The A button activates your kinesis beam, which allows you to pick up items and even use loose objects in the environment (explosive barrels, etc.) to throw at the necromorphs. You can also use Stasis with the c button to slow down various environmental hazards you'll have to get past and, most importantly, to slow down charging necromorphs for easy dismemberment. Unlike the original DS, you have three shots of stasis you can use before it runs out, after which it recharges itself after a bit. Besides having to slow down environmental objects, there will also be sequences in the game where you use a rivet gun to build barriers on doorways, shake the Wii-mote to light up more of the darker environments in the game, and re-route circuit boards using the on-screen cursor, sometimes while fending off enemies at the same time. You'll even run into a few zero-g areas, but thankfully the most work you'll have to do in these is point to pre-determined jumping spots and move to them by pressing A (besides fighting off necromorphs, of course). It's all adds very well to the overall experience.

However, I'm sure all of that is the furthest from your minds. You want to know how the strategic dismemberment translates to a first-person rail shooter. Well, I'm happy to report that it translates pretty damn perfectly. It's as simple as it gets: point at the necrmorphs body parts and blast them off, repeat until dead. Those who played the original DS will recognize pretty much every enemy type you'll be facing: the “mini-Birkin” variety are the standard necromorph type, but you'll also run into those annoying wall-crawling babies, the ones that crawl on the ground with their hands and leap at you (they always appeared in zero-g areas in the original), the fatties that give birth to those annoying grabbers, and the flyers that turn the dead corpses into other necromorphs. You will run into a couple of new enemy types however, how do heads attached to tentacles and flying tumors sound to you? Like the original, you can carry up to four weapons at a time, which includes the default rivet gun with unlimited ammunition. Unlike the original however, you can't store weapons and choose them at your leisure, once you have four slots full you'll have to give up a weapon if you want to use the new one. Kinda lame, but weapons will show up a lot during the game so it shouldn't be too tough to stick with ones you feel comfortable with. Most weapons are taken straight from the original game, such as the plasma cutter, pulse rifle, ripper, line gun, and (the now god-like) flamethrower. However you do get a couple new toys to fool around with besides the rivet gun, such as a fast-shooting pistol and a gun that shoots electricity (it's a lot less cool than it sounds, unfortunately). All guns have both a primary and secondary firing mode, with the secondary mode chosen by twisting the Wii-mote gangsta-style and firing. Speaking of motion controls, the game has quite a few of them ranging from thrusting the nunchuck for a melee attack and shaking the Wii-mote when grabbed by an enemy. The game has no qualms about throwing armies of necromorphs at you, so keep the finger on the trigger and the blood and guts flowing. In other words, combat is awesome.

However, it's not all awesome, and Extraction does have some flukes that keep it from reaching the level of it's predecessor. First off, when the game throws it's enemies at you it often does it at multiple angles, which of course makes the game turn your characters head to look in different directions to deal with them. The problem is that sometimes you may not have killed all the enemies in one direction before the game points you in another, allowing the still alive enemies to actually get in close and get in some free hits on you before the game turns you back towards them. Something that definitely could have been handled a little better. Also, while each level does feature checkpoints, you can't save your game at all until the end of each level. Each level only lasts about 20-30 minutes, so it's not really a huge problem but one that should be pointed out anyway. One thing I do have a pretty big problem with is in regards to items, in which I'll say: who in the HELL thought it was a good idea to make me break open boxes and open lockers and boxes to get items in a FRICKIN' RAIL SHOOTER?? Some genius actually thought this was a good idea in a game where your character jerks his head around more often than a monkey having a seizure. Granted, there are a few parts where the game lets you look around with the Wii-mote to find items, but even then it only gives you about 10 seconds to find everything before making you continue on. We aren't talking only about ammo here, as you may also miss out on weapon upgrades, audio, and text logs because of this. Really, really annoying and a really stupid move on Visceral's part. Finally, the minimal boss fights that take place in the game just felt tedious to play through. Unlike the first game's epic encounters, the bosses here follow the tried and true pattern-memorization and weak point hitting that just seems a little too boring when the rest of the combat is so in-your-face. It also doesn't help that you seemingly can't hit their weak points without the pistol or pulse rifle, as they move around and disappear too quickly to hit them with the slower, more powerful weapons. No, stasis doesn't work on them. Ugh.

EWWWW,IT GOT IN MY HAIR!

It's no secret that third parties are starting to push the Wii hardware to it's limits, and Dead Space Extraction is just another example of that. First off, the character models and animations are so good, that if they were in HD they would probably match the ones in the original game, if not come very close. This goes double for the necromorphs and the gore and carnage you cause by dismembering them. In contrast, the environments aren't as detailed as the original game, but for the Wii they are still fantastic. Some familiar areas in the Ishimura are faithfully recreated, while new areas that include living quarters and worker areas on the colony and the Ishimura's sewer system are very detailed and show off some good lighting and texture work. The game also ran without a hitch with all of this going on (OK, it actually did freeze once, but my policy is “every game gets one”). The sound design may not have the punch that the original game's DD5.1 mix had, but in pro logic II it get's the job done very well, with shrieks, screams, squishes, splatters and the like coming at you from all sides. I also like how audio logs come through the Wii-remote speaker. The voice acting is also very well done, despite some hammy lines, and the minimal music is just as good as in the original. Capcom and Darkside Chronicles definitely has their work cut out for them, as it's going to take something special to beat out this superb presentation.

SMILE, YOUR ABOUT TO GET A LINE OF ENERGY IN YOUR FACE!

Getting through Extraction will take you about 5-6 hours. To put that in perspective, that's much longer than HotD: Overkill but about half the length of RE: Umbrella Chronicles. At the end of each stage, the game gives you a star rating depending on various stats, including accuracy kills, number of perfect reloads, how many items you picked up, and so forth. Throw in multiple paths to take in a few of the levels and a total of five (!) difficulty levels and you'll see reason to go through the game more than once. The game also gives you 10 challenge levels to play through that you unlock through the story mode. These challenges are simply: kill necromorphs and get the highest score you can. FYI, there are no online leaderboards or the like, so these are for personal gain only, but that doesn't make them any less challenging or fun. Both story and challenge mode can be played with a friend as well, but I suggest going through the story mode alone first as it's more immersive that way. Finally, the entire Dead Space motion comic that was released to promote the original game is here as bonus material. It's a pretty entertaining watch, even if I find the art style to be a little weird (the same artist did the Silent Hill comics that were released a few years back).

Dead Space Extraction, despite switching genres, IS Dead Space. The atmosphere is there, the story is there, and the bloody, bloody dismemberment is all there. Despite flaws that can be irritating, fans of Dead Space and of shooters should add this to their Wii collections post haste. If you've been interested in the series and are looking for an excuse to get into it, well here it is. I'll be waiting at Dead Space 2.

KEWL
+Interesting prequel story with interesting characters
+Fantastic presentation for a on-rails shooter
+Strategic dismemberment translates perfectly to first-person
+Weapons are awesome and fun to use (mostly)
+Phenomenal graphics
+Excellent sound
+Good amount of replay value.

LAME
-Free hits for the enemy is bleh!
-No save points during levels is a minimal bleh!
-Items in things you have to open and shoot open in a fast-paced rail shooter is super BLEH!
-Boss fights are a tired and boring bleh!
-The lighting gun sucks. Sorry, had to say it.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/12/09

Game Release: Dead Space: Extraction (US, 09/29/09)


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