Review by horror_spooky
It's like the movie Space Camp, only with more dismemberment
Survival horror has been a dying genre. Many of the genre's biggest names have been exchanging the survival horror elements in their games for a more action-based approach, and most of the games nowadays are first-person shooters on the 360 and the PS3 or mini-game compilations on the Nintendo Wii. There have been exceptions, like Obscure: The Aftermath on the Wii and EA and Visceral's amazing survival-horror title Dead Space. Dead Space, while being a Resident Evil clone, provides scares and excitement that I haven't experienced in the genre since its early roots on the original PlayStation. And now the franchise is expanding, with a sequel on the way, and this prequel released for the Wii. How does Dead Space: Extraction fare compared to its predecessor and is it a worthy addition to the Dead Space series?
Unlike its predecessor, which was an over-the-shoulder third-person survival-horror title, Dead Space: Extraction is an on-rails first-person shooter. All the trademark weapons that the first Dead Space introduced are accounted for in this prequel, and there are some new weapons as well. The motion controls are utilized in a unique way with the weapons. Since all the weapons in the Dead Space universe have two functions, you activate these secondary functions by twisting the remote. It's pretty neat, and it's one of the cooler features in the whole game.
Motion controls also come into play when melee is required. You swing the nunchuck to swing your mining axe at enemies and to break barricades. The motion controls also come into play when solving puzzles throughout the game. Other than that, it's your standard on-rails shooter, where you just point and fire away. And with the giant focus on story and hardly any real attention played to the actual gameplay, the end result is quite boring.
Since the game is on-rails, you obviously just point, solve a puzzle or whatever, and the game carries you throughout the entire adventure. Yeah, this is what an on-rails shooter is and I'm not dissing it for being on-rails, I'm dissing it for not doing it in an entertaining manner. The Wii has had plenty of on-rails shooters. The House of the Dead series has appeared on the Wii in on-rails form and was awesome, as was Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. Dead Space: Extraction is just far too slow to really peak much interest, and the cut-scenes are way too long. I appreciate the character development and the involving storyline, but when the gameplay is sacrificed for these features, it is definitely not a good thing.
Besides playing through the main game, which you will only do once (and it is worth nothing here that the co-op just makes things more boring because the game is way easier in co-op), there are Challenge Modes. These modes are unlocked by playing through the main storyline, and they actually manage to be fun at some points. Will they keep you playing for hours on end? Not even close. Hell, you'll probably just play them a couple of times and forget about them, but it's nice that an on-rails shooter actually is making an effort to include more modes and features to boost the overall entertainment value of the product.
Like I mentioned earlier, the storyline in Dead Space: Extraction is excellent. The game is a prequel, and it details the events that occured leading up to the first game in the series. You will get to experience the early stages of the necromorph infestation of Ishimura and the mining colony on the planet where they discovered that evil marker. However, the game feels like a movie most of the time, with long cut-scenes played out instead of gameplay, and conversations between characters that take forever. It's important for a video game to tell a story, but they have to make sure the storyline is presented in a manner that keeps players interested while at the same time doesn't get in the way of actually playing a game.
Character models are impressive, and the monsters are especially gruesome and very well done. They look exactly like they do on the 360, and the environments are nicely detailed. All in all, the graphics are nearly identical to those of the original, and that's quite an impressive feat for the Nintendo Wii, who has significantly weaker graphical scope than that of the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3. Some of the textures could have stood to be better and the environments are very repetitive during longer playing sessions.
When I first heard the character's voice in the first chapter, I wanted to turn off the game right there. I dreaded the thought of playing through an entire game listening to that guy talk. Thankfully you don't have to, but I can't say why for spoiler reasons. The other voice acting is pretty good, but it's not the best by any means. The background music and musical jumps aren't plentiful enough to keep players on their toes, and the weird noises that come of the Wii remote are kind of silly and only take away from the horror atmosphere that the game tries so desperately to create.
Dead Space: Extraction will run you five to ten hours depending on whether you're good or extremely bad at these kinds of games. If you are playing in co-op the game will go even faster, and if the cut-scenes weren't so unnecessarily long, then the game would have been even shorter than that. The challenges you unlock add some replayability, as does the upgrade system for your weapons, but there really isn't much to keep you coming back.
You certainly shouldn't even think about buying this game at full price. Yeah, it does do some things right. The storyline is really good and fans of Dead Space should rent this to get into the universe of Dead Space a bit more, the graphics are quite impressive, and the audio offering isn't too bad. The motion controls are a nice touch, and the game technically functions. And while that's all fine and good, it doesn't change the fact that most of the short time you'll have with this game will be filled with boredom. The simple fact is Dead Space: Extraction is unable to balance gameplay and storyline in an effective manner, and as a result, the good things the game does will always be overlooked.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Dead Space: Extraction (US, 09/29/09)
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