Isaac is No Longer Alone in Dead Space 3
At the beginning, going into Dead Space 3 is concerning, given all of the pre-game information about co-op play and that whole “Better With Kinect’ game advertisement nonsense. It would be safe to assume that most hardcore Dead Space fans are not into either co-op or Kinect. So how does the game stack up for solo players who prefer a controller?
Dead Space 3 starts out with a lot more story than we’ve seen in previous Dead Space games. At first, we are introduced to Tau Volantis as the tutorial walks us through gameplay with a character that is not Isaac Clarke. Meanwhile, Isaac is hiding and moping and in a general state of feeling sorry for himself. He and Ellie are no longer together and he just stopped caring about much of anything some time ago. The Markers? Screw them – he doesn’t want anything else to do with the evil they bring.
Ellie shows up with a new boyfriend and the optional co-op player John Carver. The group coerces Isaac to join with them in order to travel to Tau Volantis, where it is believed the Markers were originally created. Isaac doesn’t really want to go, but he isn’t really given much of a choice when he realizes that he is being hunted down by the Church of Unitology.
Although much of the gameplay takes place on Tau Volantis, there is a lot of adventure that happens before the team ever get there. This includes escaping the city, escaping an exploding spaceship and flying through space. Although a lot of this feels extraneous, it doesn’t offer anything new to players familiar with the previous titles. But it does feel like it takes forever to get to the icy planet, which is supposed to serve as the main setting for the story in Dead Space 3.
Once on Tau Volantis, though, things pick up. Keeping to the theme of the demo, Dead Space 3 is non-stop action. I’m talking about the kind of stuff where you are gritting your teeth and sitting on the edge of your seat and jumping straight up into the air when something unexpected happens. The necromorphs are terrifying, yes, but the scenery itself seems to be willing to jump out and grab you and send you soaring into an abyss at a moment’s notice. And then there is also the evil Church to deal with, who are also constantly ambushing Isaac and firing upon him.
For those familiar with the previous games, combat itself will be familiar. But the weapons crafting system has been completely re-vamped – for the better. You can now create your own weapons and customize them to make something that does exactly what you want it to do when you want to do it. And each weapon has two ways you can fire it, creating some rather unique combinations.
The animation of the characters is fluid and creates the most lifelike characters than we have previously seen. Isaac and Ellie’s raw emotions come through in waves towards the end of the game. Without spoiling anything, you might just need a tissue for a couple of the in-game scenes. No, really.
The sound design in Dead Space 3 is brilliant, as always, and sets the mood for Isaac traipsing around alone on the icy planet. However, as Isaac isn’t always alone and spends a lot of time in conversation with someone via his rig, the usual sense of aloneness from the other games isn’t as prevalent here. This does take some of the scare factor down a notch from previous titles.
Speaking of that aloneness, getting Isaac alone in scenes starts feeling rather forced about halfway into the game. He is constantly being separated from the group and after several incidents of this happening, it just starts to feel contrived.
The end of Dead Space 3, however, is the big pay-off. Here, players get something that is more emotional than would be expected and Isaac’s final stand against the evil of the Markers feels justifiably good. But don’t turn off that console just yet – be sure to listen through the credits for a nice little additional (non) surprise.
In spite of its few faults, Dead Space 3 is a heck of a game. It will keep you thrilled, chilled and gripping the controller until your knuckles bleed.