Dead Space 3 review, Isaac Clarke gets pushed around again.

Somehow I’m still able to sleep after this behemoth of a game threw monsters that defy logic and humans that have no logic at me, enemy after enemy were shot down as I trudged ahead in this mammoth game.

Isaac Clarke makes his return in this body stomping, container looting, necromorph shooting space game. As per usual, poor Isaac is being pushed around and told what to do, to make matters worse he’s lost another love, this time to a douchey commander. However, Isaac is not alone in this adventure, scarred soldier and veteran John Carver is the second part of this makeshift duo. Should you choose to play co-op campaign (which I highly recommend), one of you will play as John Carver and the other as our engineer turned killer Isaac Clarke as you traverse through Dead Space 3’s many environments (yes, we’re not just staying on a ship this time).

The interesting thing about the co-op is that the things that John Carver experiences aren’t necessarily in sync with Isaac’s reality. One play might see something the other one can’t, to the point where Carver has to go inside his head to fight off nightmares in the form of necromorphs. Let’s just say they’ve both been touched by the same kind of demon. Although new to the Dead Space franchise, co-op makes a snug fit in between all the gory space zombie shooting and idiotic “Unitologists”, you can swap weapons and resources with your partner to help them out, as well as revive him when he falls in combat. Dead Space 3 is a lot more fun when you play with a co-op partner, especially someone you know. Whilst the relationship between you and your co-op partner might be that of friendship, the one you observe between Clarke and Carver is at less times dry comedy and at more times rivalry or distaste, but that doesn’t stop them from helping each other out.

It’s also worth noting that co-op actually makes sense, if you play through the game alone there are countless points in the game where you see Carver and think “hey he’s with me I didn’t know”, but if you were playing co-op, you would know. It isn’t like the Halo campaign where there are two Master Chiefs and nothing makes sense, it actually makes perfect sense. And the differentiating gameplay between the two will make you want to play the game at least twice, once as Isaac, the second as Carver.

As with most games nowadays, Dead Space 3 cinematically explodes into a rich story backed up by stunning visuals, the thing that Dead Space 3 does that some games don’t, is continue this cinematic explosion throughout your gameplay. Given that this creates some scripted “by the book” sequences that you are forced through, the intensity of it brings you through those moments so fast that it is actually momentarily breath-taking.

Comparatively, Dead Space 3 (of course) looks a lot better than Dead Space 2, but it isn’t just in terms of character models (because to be honest they look pretty much the same). It’s the view you get by looking out the window of a ship in space, or the view you get by looking around on the snowy wastelands of Tau Volantis. Not only is it beautiful on the outside, the inside of the “age-old” ships that you first encounter have a sort of “vintage” space feel to them. They feel a lot older than the ships in Dead Space 2, and that’s because they are. The little things make the biggest boom, like the projection of light from the iconic Dead Space helmet onto the floor in the shape of the elongated “v” lines are just the most noticeable of things. Another big plus that Visceral Games added was the change of environment, you begin in an urban setting, moving onto space ships, and onto Tau Volantis, no longer are you bored with the endless scenery of metal doors and walls of a game inside a space ship.

As for the actual gameplay, brilliance strikes again. No longer do you need to find a save station to save your game as there are checkpoints littered throughout the game which you get sent back to should you die. The suit kiosk is still there, although upgraded to do away with the relics you use to upgrade your suit, instead you go to the kiosk to look at what upgrades you can afford with the resources you have collected. It also shows you what you need for what upgrade, hence you can set out to find said resources. Also if you’re finding it hard to collect a certain something (maybe Tungsten), throughout the game you’ll come into contact with “scavenger bots” that when set loose will search for resources for you and will return to a bench at a later point in the game. They are a good way of getting resources on top of your stuff-stomping.

Most interestingly is the feature that allows you to create your own gun. Throughout the game and each “chapter” you will find “parts” that can be assembled into a gun, these parts may be off the beaten path or on it. Experimenting with different types of creations will be your savior or your downfall. In my case I managed to construct a shotgun at an early stage, later also realizing that the “Evangelizer” weapon has a secondary mod of a shotgun, which is my weapon of choice from now on should I ever find myself in “Dead Space”. This feature caters to all play styles as you can make weapons that resemble anything depending on the blueprints you have. You can have a pistol with a shotgun attachment, or a shotgun with electrical shots, should you find the parts you could even have a flamethrower in your hands. As with the suit kiosk, you can also bring “circuits” or other resources to place upgrades on your guns, making them even more powerful. Ultimately, the new resource system has you addicted to finding more and building yourself up to curb stomp anyone in your way, Isaac Clarke the Invincible (Borderlands 2 reference, check).

“Women”

Another new inclusion are optional missions, every now and then you’ll get the option to go off the beaten path to a side mission. They often occur when travelling far form one point to the next, these side quests will give you rewards and offer you more challenges than the main missions will. They are also integrated well with the main story, with characters mentioning the specific area to Isaac and Isaac replying that he’ll “let them know if he checks it out”. Of course, these missions are completely optional, but they offer a good break away from the constant nagging of your fellow AI as they usher you along the story by sticking you out in the open to go and complete absurdly dangerous tasks which brings me to the next point.

Disappointingly, the story comes to a point where you begin thinking “why am I doing this again?” or “why isn’t’ anyone helping me?” (if you’re playing single-player). Then you come to realize that the story isn’t all that exciting when you take out the co-op, kiosk and bench systems, it becomes a little rinse and repeat as you are sent off time after time to complete tasks that apparently no one else is capable of doing. Thus is the Dead Space 3 story that doesn’t quite live up to expectations, but the overall “crappy” aspect of the story is quietly swept under the rug by an awesome co-op experience and a resource system with huge potential.

Beating the game unlocks new modes in the form of New Game+ (where you keep all your upgrades) and a one life mode for you hard core Dead Space 3 gamers along with two other “special” modes which are unlocked by beating the game on a certain difficulty. Also, as in the other games there are collectible text logs and the new “artifacts” that provide a little (but unneeded) distraction and an extra trophy for collecting them all (they do add a little suspense), but I don’t really understand the purpose of their existence.

Despite my distaste for third person shooters and how they feel so clunky compared to first person shooters, Dead Space 3 makes it as far as I am concerned. It’s a great co-op game, maybe not worth playing over and over and over on single player but definitely worth the adventure with a co-op partner. The game is a huge overall improvement from Dead Space 2 (which, mind you, was not a bad game, I just didn’t like it), and the many features, especially the co-op, that it offers make up for the third person shooter style that I dislike so much. Summarized, it’s an amazing game with a sub-par story.

3.5 out of 5

*Caption is not meant to be offensive

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