Review: Dead Space 3 (Single Player)
Robust weapon customization; game is gorgeous to look at; can be quite scary at times; wide variety of monsters
Story is tedious bordering on boring; no variety to mission objectives; enemy encounters later in the game becomes extremely frustrating instead of frightening; characters are forgettable
Dead Space 3 is developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts and it is the 3rd installment of the Dead Space franchise. Set 3 years after the events of Dead Space 2, Dead Space 3 sees returning protagonist Issac Clarke and his struggle against the threat of the Markers.
Right off the bat, one of the best parts of Dead Space 3 is the terrific atmosphere. The environments that players get to explore are so dark they are near impossible to see unless players bring up their weapon which, conveniently, comes with a torchlight. This however hinders Issac’s movement causing him to slow down to a crawl. This gives players a choice to wander around in the dark as fast as they can, or to illuminate the way ahead and take in all the horrors of Dead Space 3.
The environments which you explore are also dirty, littered with corpses and blood all over the place, hinting at the numerous horrors that await you. Together with the narrow hallways and Issac’s laborious movement, the game can sometimes feel claustrophobic. All these subtle touches to the environment add up to give players a tense atmosphere while filling them with trepidation.
Necromorphs also help bring the scares to the players as they can pop out of air vents and from the ceiling. Rather than seeing them first, you are most likely to hear them first. Their shrieks are downright bone chilling and you never know where they can come from. One moment you’re staring down a dark and narrow hallway and, suddenly assaulted by Necromorphs from all directions. Necromorphs are also grotesquely designed. Rather than limbs some Necromorphs have had their hands replaced with some kind of a claw. Others wield axes in an attempt to kill you. There are enough variety of Necromorphs in Dead Space 3 to keep combat exciting and players on their toes.
To help combat the threat of Necromorphs there are a myriad of weapons. Weapon customization allows players to put together different parts and craft various components to form different combinations of weapons and there are plenty of ridiculous combinations. Players get to choose from a variety of Tools to place on a weapon Frame, then choosing which Tip to use to dispatch Necromorphs.
Combat in Dead Space 3 is similar to previous Dead Space games. It encourages players to aim for the limbs of enemies as the most effective means of dispatching a Necromorph. The variety of enemies would then require a different strategy. Plasma cutter weapons are good for your humanoid necromorphs which come at you with knife-like arms. However, I favor the automatic rifle to remove the legs of necromorphs, effectively ending their charge against me. There are also weapons which serve as utility, since they do a point-blank area knockback, letting you catch your breath. The weapons you use are only limited by your own imagination and thus make combat a very satisfying and brutal experience.
Compared to the weapon customization, the Suit customization is sorely lacking. Any upgrade you purchase for your armor will apply to any and all future armor you unlock. There are no benefits to changing armor except for aesthetic purposes. They could have given more to Suit customization or at the very least, provided different benefits to different suits to give players the choice and option of finding these Suits. As it is, there isn’t a real need to change Suits except for the one part you have to to survive frigid temperatures, and even that is part of the story.
One thing I’ve noticed is that certain encounters are essentially the same thing, repackaged and delivered to players over and over again. It basically involves Issac trying to accomplish some mundane task, such as find 3 quest items or destroying a gigantic drill which has gone rogue, or using a turret to free mechanical gears of fuel tanks; all the while necromorphs keep spawning trying to ruin your day. The necromorphs aren’t scary, they are just downright annoying. The task which you have to complete isn’t complex or challenging, since they usually involve you just using your Telekinesis or Stasis power. It would have been better if it was some kind of huge ugly necromorph which required strategy to bypass but instead, you are getting Zerg rushed by run-of-the-mill necromorphs while trying to search for 3 particular items.
These mindless quests are done for a cast of mostly forgettable characters. Players are suddenly introduced to a cast of characters who you’ve managed to rescue and just as quickly, sent off on yet another quest to help these NPCs. Players will hardly ever get to see the faces of the NPCs who you help to defeat the Marker threat as you are always out trying to accomplish the mundane tasks which they throw at you. There is no hub where you can visit and talk to them so these secondary characters become faceless voices who direct you from point A to point B. You will not develop any attachment to any of these characters and the twist delivered from one of the characters can be seen a mile away. I cannot stress enough how boring and devoid of personality these characters are.
Just as the NPCs are bland, the story of Dead Space 3 is also lacking. The ultimate goal of Dead Space 3 is never made known immediately. One moment you’re trying to rescue someone, the next, you have to fix a ship to reach a planet. You move from objective to objective but you have no idea where the story is heading. As a result, the fact that all of these quests are mindless fetch quests is made glaringly obvious. Issac is lured on a rescue mission for his ex-flame Ellie Langford but is then roped in by her to destroy the Markers. The objectives of the game may seem varied, but these are all the same things over and over again. It starts out with getting someplace but realizing that something is broken and requires fixing for everyone to progress. There is no variety in the tasks that you set out to do. You are never asked to kill something, only to fix it.
To break the tedium, some missions actually takes place in Space. Not zero gravity mind you, you actually get to go out into Space. While the gist of the quest is still the same, the change in environment is a sorely welcome sight.
While Dead Space 3 struggles with issues such as a poorly written story and tedious quests, the weapon crafting, combat and atmospheric environments really help it to stand out. While not the best survival horror game there is, Dead Space 3 can at least offer up a few good scares.