Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Dead Space 3 Review

Reviewed on: PS3

Dead Space 3 brings Isaac Clarke out of retirement to fight Necromorphs and Markers once more. Dead Space 3 also does several important things, first it shows how the Necromorph outbreaks have affected Isaac, second it introduces new interesting characters, but by far the most important is that it answers a lot of the questions raised by the previous games.

The first thing that needs to be said about Dead Space 3 is that it's not really a Survival Horror game, it's actually more of an Action game with elements of Survival Horror and while at first I didn't like this, now I realise it makes a good change of pace from previous games and demonstrates how Isaac has adapted and has become much more experienced in fighting. Another big change is weapons and how they are upgraded. Weapons are no longer bought, instead you will find craft parts that can be put together to make your own custom weapons, alternatively weapons can be "bought" with scavenged materials (which I will talk about later) using blueprints that you find throughout the game. A lot of blueprints are given to you straight away and include developer favourite designs and classic gun designs, blueprints can also be custom made from your favourite custom weapon so you can buy it with scavenged materials rather than made with parts. To upgrade weapons circuits that improve one or two of the guns main four stats are used instead of power nodes (that have been completely removed from the game). A weapon can have a maximum of eight circuits (four for the primary weapon, four for the secondary). One thing I don't like (even though I understand it couldn't really be helped) is guns don't have specific ammo types, instead there is one universal ammo type, obviously this has been done because it would have been a nightmare to have so many different ammo types in your inventory for custom weapons, however I thought having specific ammo types that could be made at benches for the main gun parts that would improve the damage, speed etc. of the gun and could be made into custom ammo clips for your guns may have been a cool addition.

Credits have been completely taken out of the game, in their place are scavenged materials such as scrap metal, tungsten and somatic gel, these materials are used to craft things such as med packs, ammo, weapon parts and weapons from blueprints (so pretty much everything), they're also used to upgrade your R.I.G. Scavenged materials are found throughout the game in boxes and chests, but to get enough to be useful you've got to wait until you find a scavenger bot which you place on the ground to gather materials for around ten minutes before returning to a bench to deposit everything. You will pick up more scavenger bots throughout the game and if you use them at every chance you get you will have enough materials to make anything you need, to get extra materials you can use a scavenger bot to find a resource rich deposit then you just place the bot as normal and when it returns it will drop much more material. R.I.Gs are not bought any more instead they are unlocked and can be equipped at suit kiosks. As in Dead Space 2 certain doors and machines can be hacked to open them or turn them on, however in Dead Space 3 there is more than one type of hacking, there's the hack used previously in Dead Space 2 and there's a new version where you must guide both analog sticks to two points on a graph over and over again until the door is unlocked which is both tedious and annoying. I think there was at least one other way to hack but I can't remember what it is or I could just be imagining things. Some doors in Dead Space 3 must be manually opened using Kinesis and Kinesis' new feature "Torque" which will turn certain objects such as cranks, Torque is also used to turn on generators in certain situations. To unlock locked rooms containing special items (that in previous games were opened with power nodes) a tungsten torque bar crafted at work bench's and Kinesis torque are used. 

Dead Space 3 features several new Necromorphs, most I don't want to mention as it would spoil the story slightly, but there is one new Necromorph I must mention and it is called a Waster. The Waster is the first Necromorph you encounter in the game and is different because on occasion if split in half it will sprout three tentacles (similar to the ones on Lurkers) and keep attacking! To reflect the more action packed nature of the game several new controls have been added including the ability to crouch and the ability to roll. A new feature of the game is rappelling, its not used a lot in the game which is a shame because it can be very fun but you do get a taste at the very beginning of the game and it is featured extensively in the end chapters. Unlike previous games this one doesn't feature a lot of zero gravity moments, the first quarter/third of the game does have a lot of zero-g moments but as soon as you reach the surface of the planet (where most of the game takes place) there are only a few rooms that feature the previously essential game mechanic. Dead Space 3 features a new Co-op mode where one player takes control of Isaac and the other player takes control of the new character John Carver, I really want to try this but I didn't have time so I may do another post in the near future reviewing the Co-op. New games can be played in several different modes that include, New game + where you start the game with all the weapons, items and upgrades from a previously completed game, Pure survival in which enemies don't drop ammo or med packs instead they must be crafted at work benches, Hardcore mode - if you die you must start the game from the very beginning, Retro mode (unlocked by completing the game in hardcore mode) which can be turned on at anytime (and isn't really a mode but I didn't know where else to put it) and pixilates the screen to make the graphics look more old school and finally classic mode with only classic weapons available through blueprints, weapons can't be made, classic aiming is enabled, co-op is not available and the difficulty setting is at hard by default, this mode is great if you want to play the game a bit more like previous games. It can be improved a bit more by completing a standard game beforehand to unlock the engineering suit which just completes the classic experience.

The graphics of Dead Space 3 are spectacular with breathtaking views and textures, but there are quite a few problems, hair textures are really quite rubbish and Isaac's face is a bit too rounded. There are a few graphical glitches like Isaac's hands won't grip all weapons properly, sometimes even being in the weapons. Another glitch is sometimes after stomping on a box a broken off piece will get stuck in Isaac's stomach. Facial animations, especially when speaking, can look wrong or weird a lot of the time. A lot of classic Necromorph types have had skin remodels which is especially noticeable on the Lurker which used to be mutated from a baby and so had a babies head, but now is mutated from a dog and has an odd dog skull as a head. A very cool addition to the graphics is the eye holes of R.I.Gs create light beams that shine on the environment creating reflected patterns and also provide a fair bit of light in dark areas. R.I.Gs include a lot more rounded, bubble like edges and features with cloth/canvas textures which is a massive contrast to the sharp edged, sleek leather/rubber R.I.Gs of Dead Space 2.

The music is a big let down as it is still very Survival Horror and doesn't reflect the new action atmosphere of the game and its not just that it doesn't fit, it also has a lot of problems for example it can be very drum heavy at times, it can be out of sync with what's going on and one of the biggest problems is the music will turn on and off whether an enemy is out of sight or not even if it is just behind a large crate and its roars are still audible which really ruins the atmosphere of the game. As with the other Dead Space games the voice acting is great. The music during the end credits is very epic, with awesome heavy metal riffs that fit the game perfectly.

The story of Dead Space 3 can be a bit standard, but is awesome nonetheless, it importantly demonstrates how Isaac's experiences have scarred him causing detrimental effects to his mentality, his relationships and his life as a whole. It also shows that Necromorphs don't phase Isaac like they used to. The story has strong elements of religious fanaticism, times moving on and the effects of war on the people fighting them. The story does however feature a few problems like dates being a bit odd, in one scene Isaac has angered Ellie and begs forgiveness repeatedly even though she's not saying anything (admittedly that could be the reason he's trying so hard) and it hadn't been more than thirty seconds since they were face to face and they were talking, and another very big thing is in previous games being near a Marker has caused Isaac to develop dementia and hallucinate a lot in this game he is literally surrounded by Markers at times and no hallucinations, no dementia, no problems what so ever, nothing. One of the things I really loved about this game is Isaac's personality and how he reacts to situations, because similar to Uncharted's Nathan Drake Isaac's reactions are much more realistic, plus his sarcasm is just hilarious, a true highlight of the game. Dead Space 3 features a lot of new backstory for Markers, Necromorph outbreaks, Unitology and human civilisation in the time before the beginning of the series all of which answers a lot of the questions raised in the previous games.

I've got to be frank when I was playing the game I wasn't amazingly impressed, it was good, but I was almost sure this review was going to be really negative, it wasn't until I had finished the game and looked back that I realised how incredible the game really was. I have come to realise that new mechanics like weapon crafting that I didn't really like at first were things I just needed to get used to. The story that at first I wasn't sure about answered all the questions I wanted answering in a very cool way, but still left enough for a possible sequel, and the end was spectacular, a fast paced explosion of action that topped off the series so far in a indescribable way. The new action packed nature of Dead space 3 and the weapon customisation has opened the game up to gamers that didn't like the previous games for their Survival Horror nature, fans of the Dead Space lore (like me) will have background and answers galore, people who like collecting everything in a game from weapons to achievements (again like me) have a large host of items, logs and objectives to collect or complete, players that want a true challenge can attempt the hardcore mode. 

Finally all of the fans of the Dead Space series who for some odd deranged reason haven't got this game yet, you must all buy this game. In fact anyone who has a PS3, an Xbox 360 or a PC should buy this game and its predecessors, they are essential! Over the course of this month Dead Space, a series of games I had never really played or even cared about, has become one of the best series of games I've ever played and I'm now a huge fan for life.
 

2 comments:

  1. For some reason R.I.Gs appears as a link, ignore this.

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