Video Game Review: Dead Space 3 [Xbox 360]

Dead Space 3 [Xbox 360]

Dead Space 3
System: Xbox 360 (also on PS3 and PC)
Genre: Third-person shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Visceral Games
Release Date: February 5, 2013

Despite the emphasis placed on horror in the first Dead Space, the series’ gradual transition to full-blown action gameplay seemed inevitable. After all, in the eyes of corporate big-wigs, gamers don’t want to be scared; they want to blow shit up and dismember aliens, right? As such, even though we all knew Dead Space 3 would focus on action, the change is still startling, and unfortunately disappointing as well.

Set three years after the Sprawl incident of Dead Space 2, the game once again places you in the role of Isaac Clarke, the engineer who has now become quite handy with a gun (and chatty, at that). Isaac is dragged out of his self-made isolation in his rather disgusting apartment on the moon, and he is forced on a mission to help find his ex-girlfriend and her missing team. Once again, he encounters an endless amount of Necromorphs along the way, with the added bonus of also having to fight off Marker-crazed Unitologists (essentially cult soldiers).

Dead Space 3 [Xbox 360]

The plot is basically more of the same from the Dead Space series, but the game does go in an interesting new direction when Isaac arrives on the snowy planet of Tau Volantis. Being able to play in blizzard-like conditions is a nice change of pace, even if these moments are often interrupted with forays into the familiar dark, gloomy interior settings.

Being able to play on an ice planet is fun, but it can’t mask the fact that the campaign is lacking in any major “wow” moments. The first two games were full of such moments — who could ever forget the introduction of the Necromorphs in DS1, or the eye scene in DS2 (not to mention many others)? After finishing DS3, I have had a hard time remembering much of anything. In fact, by about the 2/3 mark during the campaign, the gameplay grew monotonous to the point of me just wanting it to be over with.

The campaign is longer than before — it took me nearly 15 hours to finish it single player with all optional missions completed — but there is little diversity to keep things fresh. This is a major issue, though it is helped somewhat by the addition of a brand new co-op mode.

Dead Space 3 [Xbox 360]

Now, games can be dropped in and out of using the online co-op feature. In this, one player is Isaac, and the other is John Carver, an EarthGov Sergeant. They have separate personalities, and there are a handful of co-op exclusive side missions that can explore these differences more in-depth. Being able to play with a friend makes it a little easier to overlook the shortcomings found in the campaign, though it is somewhat infuriating that part of the content is exclusive to co-op.

There has been quite a bit of controversy regarding another new feature in Dead Space 3 — its weapon crafting system. Instead of only being able to acquire a dozen or so weapons, you now have the ability to make your own guns based on different parts you find throughout the environment. There are a ton of possibilities, and if you put in the necessary time, you can make some pretty badass weapons.

Dead Space 3 [Xbox 360]

The controversy for this feature comes in the form of microtransactions. Basically, EA has given the option for impatient/lazy gamers to spend real money to acquire the materials needed to craft certain weapons. I had no problems whatsoever finding the elements and parts I needed during the course of the campaign, so this feature does not bother me in the slightest. In fact, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. This isn’t something that is forced onto gamers — it’s entirely up to them if they want to dish out any extra cash to change their gameplay experience. Of all the common complaints with DS3, this is the one I don’t get.

And yes, Dead Space 3 does have its fair share of problems, but it is still a competent third-person action game. Fans of the horror aspects of the series will no doubt be disappointed by the reliance on action, but those especially interested in the Dead Space canon will likely still enjoy this. At the very least, the game warrants multiple playthroughs, so there is a good amount of replay value, and it can be fun to kick back with a friend. It’s just a shame that the series has already gone so far away from what made the first two games so great.

7/10

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17 thoughts on “Video Game Review: Dead Space 3 [Xbox 360]

  1. paulbowler says:

    I really like the Dead Space series of games and really enjoyed playing Dead Space 3. The first game is still the best, but this 3rd game is still very good. It was also fun to explore the ice planet and made a nice contrast to being in deep space. I’ve managed to build some great weapons as well, it a very clever idea, and I think it works really well. While Dead Space 3 might not be quite as good as the first two games, the graphics are still amazing, there are lots of new Necromorphs to fight, and the gamplay is as good as ever.

  2. ruth says:

    Hi Eric, I don’t know if it’s your thing but have you played the new Lara Croft game? I saw some clips of them on my hubby’s iPad the other day, wow it looks much more realistic and bad ass. Glad to see Lara’s figure is more realistic too, I mean she used to have such ridiculously ginormous boobs, ahah.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Haha, yeah she does look more anatomically correct now. πŸ˜‰ I haven’t had the chance to play the new Tomb Raider yet, but I want to. It’s getting rave reviews, which is nice to see since the franchise has been so underwhelming lately.

  3. Gary Smith says:

    Great review Eric. I still need to finish Dead Space, and then start Dead Space 2 (I’ve had both for about two years now). It’ll definitely be a while before this one even appears on my radar.

    I for one think the change to more action is best, but that’s really because I don’t care for horror (movies or games) and there’s only so many ways to try and scare someone with the aliens.

    As for the micro-transactions, I agree with you. Too many people think that its some great evil. As long as you’re not forced to buy additional stuff, micro-transactions are great for single player games for people who want to spend the money, and so the publishers are smart to include it.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Thanks man. Agree with everything you said about micro-transactions. The potential for abuse is there, but as long as it doesn’t happen, I won’t mind their inclusion. If it helps fund more content and better games in the future, then by all means, keep them coming!

      Also, you’re in for a treat with DS 1&2. Both of them would be strong candidates for my top ten games of this console generation.

  4. sanclementejedi says:

    I am still only about a 3rd of the way through the 1st Dead Space game. The graphics on this look much better however that is totally lame with EA opting to allow in game micro transactions. I am also not sure about moving away from survival horror. That was the reason I picked up the game in the first place.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Yeah, DS1 is the only real survival horror game in the series, and even that has a lot of action once you get access to more guns. DS2 is kind of like Aliens to Alien — both are pretty badass but incredibly different in tone. I haven’t seen Alien 3 so I don’t know if that analogy still works for DS3, but based on what I’ve heard it might not be too far off. πŸ™‚

  5. Gaming Girl says:

    Haven’t played it yet and this review was helpful in deciding if I should. I think I’m going to let it pass and spend my time playing Tomb Raider (which deserves all the great reviews!).

  6. John says:

    After six years, Isaac Clarke is still fiddling around with his deceased girlfriend? I’m more interested in the second game now to see what happened in that period of time.

    I’m right there with you about the microtransactions. They haven’t wrecked anything yet, I think most are just afraid this is leading to a point when they do.

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