Dead Space 3 had plenty of reasons to make fans worry before launch.
Within a year before launch, it was revealed that co-op support was being added, Kinect could be used, cover based shooting ala Gears of War would be seen and even microtransactions were rearing its head. All of these revelations were met with anger from fans and skepticism from anyone that had played a previous game in the series.
However, series fans need not worry. Most, if not all, of the additions can be ignored, and some even added a bit more enjoyment for me as I went through the game.
After a brief prequel to start the game off, the story picks up where it left off with Isaac Clarke. The military tracks down Clarke to try and stop the Unitologists as they try to activate more Markers to keep the Necromorphs coming. The latest entry has Clarke and co-op partner John Carver going to Tau Volantis to find Ellie and try and stop the Necromorphs once and for all. On the way to the planet, you’ll spend a decent amount of time in space going around from ship to ship.
The enemies themselves feel harder to kill then in past games. Shooting off a limb no longer slows an enemy down, and they will take every advantage they have to come at you in numbers. Statis becomes a quick friend early on to try and thin crowds out, and it quickly becomes key to focus on the biggest threat first while constantly moving to put space between you and Necromorphs.
Helping players fight the Necromorphs is a new crafting system, which also gets rid of the previous weapon and upgrade system. By using various parts on a compact or heavy frame, players can make two unique weapons that can have up to four different types of shots. So, you can have a plasma cutter with an SMG on the bottom, or a shotgun with a rail gun. In addition, a tip can be added to the cores that change the type of gun it is. So, a plasma cutter can become a rapid-fire gun while a SMG can become a revolver. Various upgrades can also be applied that give a scope for a gun or the ability to heal your partner when using a med pack.
In addition, various resources can be used to buy new parts for guns, buy new guns, improve Clarke’s health and make consumables. You can collect these resources from enemies and boxes, as well as having new scavenger bots in the game look for them while running around. The bots return after a bit of time, allowing you to get the resources at a bench before sending them out again.
Overall, the new crafting system gives a lot of freedom to make various weapons that are a blast to use. Personally, I loved my gun that shocked enemies when shot and my other gun that could freeze enemies in stasis. One allowed for ammo picked up to be shared with my partner, while the other healed my partner when I used a health pack.
Also, the microtransaction system when crafting can be completely ignored. You really never have to worry about buying resources or parts, as you can find everything you need going through the game and guns can be broken down to its base materials to reuse again.
Speaking of guns, it should be noted that individual ammo has been done away with. Instead, you just pick up ammo packs now that can be used in any gun, helping to streamline the inventory system.
Now to talk about the other big addition to the series, co-op. While the game does feature a complete single-player quests with some side missions to try as well, the co-op features the same quests and side-quests, along with a few co-op specific missions. Your enjoyment of the co-op will depend on your thoughts on playing with friends. If you want a base horror experience, it’s best done alone. After all, having a partner can help ease the tension as you know you have backup waiting.
Personally, I enjoyed having a partner around as I went through the game. It was a nice experience to share in the jump scares and the co-op missions were enjoyable to go through. However, a downside is that you do have to reload a game from the last checkpoint if someone wants to join in the middle of a game, which is disappointing that it wasn’t integrated in more seamlessly. With Carver not being around except when a second player is in the game, though, it’s understandable.
The other two features added to the game, Kinect support and cover-based shooting, can be talked about a lot quicker. The Kinect support is fairly simple, with players being able to yell commands to heal or find out where to go. Meanwhile, the cover-based shooting spots normally pop up when the Unitologists start coming at you with guns. They aren’t bad segments, just bland. Clarke seems to just duck behind cover and fire, not stick to it. It’s best just to breeze by these segments and move on to get back to the meat of the game: tearing up Necromorphs.
Not everything in DS3 changed. The HUD and menu system from previous games are still back in the same form, and elevators and slow doors hide loading screens as you go through the planet or ships. In addition, there are still plenty of scares to find as you go around, and I found myself jumping at well placed Necromorph locations or even just from a damn pinball machine.
Graphically, the game still looks great. The environments contrast nicely from the spaceships to the various environments found on the planet. In addition, there are plenty of disturbing areas made complete by the haunting settings that Visceral has put into the game.
The soundtrack is also impressive, with the sound being just the right amount of haunting to leave you on the edge of your seat yet still being able to be enjoyed. The voice acting is great as well by all of the characters.
- Crafting system is a great addition.
- The horror of the series is still present.
- Co-op can be a fun addition with friends.
- Game does become less scary with partner.
- Microtransactions are unnecessary in game, but game reminds you of them.
- Cover-based shooting sections could be gotten rid of.
Overall, Dead Space 3 is a solid entry in the series despite the additions. They don’t change the core gameplay, and actually add some extra for fans wanting a bit different of an experience than the past two games have offered. If you’ve never checked out a game in the series, now is definitely the best time.