At this point it feels like I’ve written an awful lot about Dead Space. My long and now probably slightly out of date discussion on horror games from 2010 which featured Dead Space (among others), my scathing review of Dead Space 2, that one time I made a Game of the Year thing (before I realised it was actually not very interesting) which featured Dead Space 2 as the worse game I played that year. So it’s actually quite tiring, at this point, to go back and look at another one. But another one they did release.
Dead Space 3 has been out for about a year now (being released in June 2012), and I got around to playing it last month. It still reviews far, far too positively in my opinion – but to sum it up – it’s not as bad as Dead Space 2. And I guess really that’s at least something.
But to start from the beginning. The game still had an EA on-line pass on release, which as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before is very frustrating when you use a game rental service like LoveFilm (or Blockbusters, or other alternatives) but as far as I’m aware it is something that is now done with, as EA is removing passes and no longer using them.
I’m going to start off with a little aside here briefly. Unitology in Dead Space. Is it just me, or does this sound like the plot of Evangelion? We’re all going to die and be transformed and joined together? I see.
To the game, anyway. The plot of the game was still too light in terms of being played out by the character. As I found with Dead Space 2, a lot of the game-play quickly becomes repetitive – running through rooms, shooting things, and stomping things. But what you get from that, the story, characters, fluff, whatever…just isn’t enough of a reward for playing through the game.
So Isaac is understandably feeling down and out. His first other half is dead, his most recent relationship with Ellie didn’t go well, his mind is having a hard time dealing with all the stuff in it, and he’s had to kill a lot of people. Queue overly mean and militaristic characters forcing him to continue because Dead Space 3 has to have Isaac Clarke. And an angry antagonist who’s…annoyed you used to go out with his current girlfriend? Really? That’s his motivation? I’m not a teenage boy, Dead Space.
System wise, the games difficulties now feel much better balanced. The game developers at least now seem to understand that easy should be easy, with plenty of resources. Because I don’t care about game difficulty, I could play any shooter. There needs to be more than that for me to want to play a game.
I do like that the game now has ‘optional missions’, even if I’m assuming most people won’t view them as optional and do them anyway, but it’s a nice idea. The game still has it’s mostly UI free look, though I did find in the sections where prompts popped up that the text and icons were too small to read from the reasonable distance I sit from the Television. The weapons system is interesting, and it seemed to matter less which weapon you used exactly, as you can upgrade whichever weapons you like using with customisable parts.
When I said the game seemed better than Dead Space 2, the main deciding factor I really used there was the atmosphere and the horror. Dead Space 3 does have more atmosphere – a lot of sections feel more like Dead Space 1, creepy dark environments, a little bit of exploration and monsters. Monsters do jump out at you less, and they seem to have gotten over needing to make all the dead ones on the floor jump alive (since all it meant is developing a habit of shooting all corpses) and there’s less enemies that simply spawn behind you. As a result it feels like they’re relying at least a bit less on jump scares.
But it is still much more of a shooter than a horror game. It needs more exploration, depth and other types of game-play, and just less enemies. The game still has the ‘Uber morph’ type monster, unbeatable and just as annoying. I always get the feeling the game thinks it’s racking up ‘intense action and tension’, but it’s not. Unkill-able enemies are mostly annoying, they waste time and make you, as a character, feel useless.
As another aside, Dead Space 3 has co-op. Surprisingly enough I want to play with my other half. Alas, it always seems like the way to go is on-line only, you sell more games that way, I guess.
So, despite most of the characters in Dead Space 3 being unlike-able, and the actual amount of stuff Isaac does as plot still being too light, it is a better game than Dead Space 2, it was marginally more fun to play. But you can easily take ‘more like Dead Space 1’ in a negative light – because I could just play Dead Space 1. And still enjoy it more than 2 or 3, despite it not being fantastic either.
Unfortunately, Dead Space still hasn’t died. After three main games, and three spin offs. Two films and a bunch of comics. People are still eating it up, and spending their money, despite the fact that it isn’t really doing anything different, it’s still a shooter playing at being a horror game, and it just doesn’t do it for me. Please stop making these.