Review by BloodGod65

"Monsters? I'll just hide behind this enormous targeting reticule!"

Note: The PS3 version of Dead Space Extraction can be attained either through Playstation Network, or for free by buying one of the original print run versions of Dead Space 2. This review was written based on the latter.

When Dead Space came out in 2007, it surprised everyone. Here was EA, a company with a reputation for avoiding both M-rated titles and new IP like the plague, suddenly jumping into the deep end with both feet. And boy did their risk ever pay off, as the title became a critical and commercial darling. With so much Dead Space love going around, most of us wanted a few more titles and naturally EA, being EA, was happy to oblige. But nobody could have predicted what happened next.

The next Dead Space title was going to be a prequel. And it would appear exclusively on the Nintendo Wii. And it would be an on-rails shooter… Oh boy. Strange decisions aside, Extraction was met with a generally positive reception. And abysmal sales. Hey, it's an M-rated title on a Nintendo system. What did EA expect to happen? Despite that, or perhaps because of it, Extraction was ported over to the PS3.

Extraction is based on the events that took place on Aegis VII after the Marker was found and brought to the surface. The story follows the exploits of a small group of survivors as they try to make their way off the planet. I won't ruin any of the game's twists and turns, but the game does rely on many familiar hooks, both from the first Dead Space and science fiction in general. But then, that's no surprise given that Dead Space was made up of nothing but well worn science fiction tropes. Even so, Extraction is a nice companion to Dead Space because the first game never did more than allude to what had happened at the Aegis VII colony.

While Extraction continues the story of Dead Space, in terms of gameplay, the two couldn't be any more different. This is because Extraction is an on-rails shooter. This necessitates a number of changes to the formula of the first game, but by and large, this is still recognizable as a Dead Space title. The style is the same, with many familiar sights and sounds. But because of its trigger-happy leanings, most of the tension and fright is gone.

Part of this can be attributed to the very nature of an on-rails shooter. The player has very little say in what happens from moment to moment. Control over movement is entirely out of your hands, meaning the game effectively sets the pace. You can't slow down, you can't backtrack, and you don't even have control over what the character looks at. But then that's par for the course.

What makes it so irritating is how much bobbing and weaving the camera does. Characters jerk around like they're having seizures, often bobbing their heads for no other reason than to make it hard to aim. Also, since you're expected to get items by breaking crates just like in Dead Space, you have to be exceptionally fast (or lucky) to grab all the stuff scattered around the levels.

But the game is all about shooting necromorphs, and you'll be doing plenty of it. You'll see all the old monsters from the game and blast dozens upon dozens of them. As in Dead Space, dismemberment is the name of the game. Cutting a necromorph apart is just as satisfying as it ever was, and now it's more challenging than ever because Extraction throws enemies at you by the handful. The characters all have a three-charge kinesis module that recharges over time and can be used to slow enemies, and they can carry three weapons and a standard sidearm. Most of the weapons are taken directly from the first game and include the plasma cutter, assault rifle, flamethrower, line gun, and the ripper.

Extraction uses an active reload system, much like the one found in Gears of War. Tap a button to hit a sweet spot and the reload happens in a fraction of the time. Miss it, and your reload takes precious extra seconds while necromorphs creep closer. Being able to hit that sweet spot while under pressure can mean the difference between life and death.

My biggest issue with Extraction – aside from the fact that it's a rail shooter – is the ridiculously large targeting reticule. Do we really need an icon the size of a silver dollar? No. We really don't. More often than not, the sheer size of it obscures the enemies you're trying to hit. That's not a good idea in any game, let alone one that requires precision aiming. Trying to sever limbs off an advancing horde of necromorphs is difficult enough by itself without factoring in a targeting reticule that just hides what you're shooting at.

But those are all relatively minor things when compared to the biggest problem with Extraction. It's boring. Because the game is just a corridor shooter, it lacks much of the tension that made Dead Space so invigorating to play. You just follow the path, blast the enemies as they pop out, and continue on your merry way. There isn't much to make this game special or memorable. There are a few parts of the game that carry weight, but these are few and far between. A set piece early in the game does a great job of instilling into the player the hopelessness of the situation, and the introduction of a new character near the game's climax is also quite memorable, but most of the game falls flat with dull, predictable scenarios and tiresome character archetypes.

Problems aside, the question of control needs to be addressed. Since the game was originally designed for the Wii, you might think Playstation Move is needed to play the game. Thankfully, that isn't the case. While it's an option for those who own the device, the game is perfectly playable using the controller.

The game's lineage on the Wii might also raise some questions about Extraction's technical capabilities. No, this isn't a graphical powerhouse, but I think it has received a makeover before its Playstation debut because it looks too good to have been on the Wii. While the environments are a little bland, with lousy textures and the like, the character models are actually pretty good.

Though the graphics aren't as pretty as the real Dead Space, the two games do sound remarkably similar. Many of the same sound effects are present, keeping a good sense of continuity between the two. Voice acting is… average, shall we say. They aren't great, but then it doesn't really matter because they're basically just going through a script standardized by the first Alien and regurgitated by every sci-fi horror movie since then. If only Bill Paxton made a cameo screaming, "Game over, man! Game over!"

My recommendations on this game will vary depending on how you plan to get it. Frankly, I'm happy I never bought this on the Wii or as a separate title, because Extraction is not that good. But as a pack in to Dead Space 2, it's an excellent bonus and companion to the series proper. Let's just say that if you can't get your hands on it by buying Dead Space 2, you shouldn't waste your money looking for it elsewhere.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 01/22/13

Game Release: Dead Space: Extraction (US, 01/25/11)

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