So, reviewing demos is always hard. Being given only small snippets of the game to criticise is tricky when not getting the full package. You may not get enough to talk about, or perhaps miss out on something key about the game. With this demo though I think I managed to get a good idea of its message. ‘Death to survival horror’. Oh yeah everyone, it’s gonna be one of ‘those’ articles.
Dead Space 3 lacks what originally put the franchise on the map. Replacing the dark, twisted labyrinth passageways of an abandoned space ship with large, bright and open areas of a snowy planet called Tau Volantis, which stresses an immediate loss in the scare factor. Instead we’re treated to (whilst albeit some impressive looking backdrops) large playing spaces with the only real restriction coming from that of our sluggish character Isaac.
Then there’s the enemies, whilst you get your traditional Necromorphs, most have been replaced with standard soldiers. These enemies after taking some hits will explode in the mid range area exposing three tentacles. You know the drill, pow pow pow goes the tentacles and he’s dead. The combat feels repeated, lacking real threat due to the nature of the setting and the minute a body was reactivated and proceeded to use the assault rifle in its hosts hand, followed by the HUD prompt to be able to crouch behind low walls I found myself feeling the imagination on the gameplay has been thoroughly left back up in space.
As many may recall, Dead Space was well known for its use of sound. Usually waiting for the really quiet moments to unleash a burst steam bent in your face with an almighty hiss as if a Rattlesnake was just fired from it. Or even the classic orchestral shriek. Whilst it was simple stuff, it worked and it got you spooked. Though, given the nature and the setting of DS3, some things not working as well as it did. The attempts at getting your heart pumping just leave you wanting to mute your television, the games loud and brash attempts at getting you going just leave you annoyed and agitated rather than clenching on the end of your seat. The music should work with the setting, I should be made to tip toe through each area in the anticipation of something to shock me rather than just running through it all in the hopes all the noise will stop. The fact there’s no dark corridors to twist through cement this issue. I can just run about like an idiot with nothing to worry about. By removing the tight boundaries of being on space ship in the middle of…well, space. I’ve lost all restriction. All meaning to preserve Isaac, the ammo, the health. You’ve just axed a massive part of the original gameplay with one design decision.
Yet another series that was well developed in the survival horror has now succumb to the pressure of moving into Action Adventure. We’ve been here already guys. Resident Evil, Silent Hill. Plenty of others have sacrificed its genre roots to get more hits in the world of accessibility. And it seems Dead Space 3 is no different.
So let’s get onto some new introductions shall we? Stasis is still involved and still shows us Isaac is still lazy as hell, but the two main attractions are possibly two of its worst.
Weapon Crafting, perhaps I should have read the descriptions slower but the navigation and HUD interface for weapon crafting is about as confusing as trying to understand why Isaac shields his face from wind, snow and sun when he’s wearing a helmet. Personally, I was happy with using the power nodes n such to upgrade the weapons as you saw fit. It allowed for some sweet upgrades without getting too confusing. When it gets to the point when I’m trying to add lower sections, upper sections, attachments and all that, only for a petty +1 damage, I find it genuinely strange why I can’t just use my credits to upgrade my gear the normal way. Call me old fashioned but hey.
Second addition is Co-op. Yes. Games are more fun with co-op. Yes, I’m aware DS2’s 4 player wave mode was relatively popular. YES, sticking a friend into your campaign does not make things any scarier in a game that’s already struggling to get my nerves beyond a cold shiver.
It’s definitely impressive that they’ve structured things like the script to change whether you’re playing it solo or co-op to give the second player a sense of actually being there rather than just a hired goon that doesn’t even appear in cut scenes. I’m pretty sure it will allow for some good 2 player moments too but if this doesn’t hammer the final nail in the phase ‘Dead Space is a survival horror…’ for people, I don’t know what will.
Dead Space 3 is a noisy, unimpressive genre tweak for the franchise. If you’re hooked to the story, then you may find yourself with a gleaming third entry to the Dead Space universe. Whilst Dead Space 3 offers some nice visuals and originality in story/history, I got into the series for his horror roots, so I’d sooner take that Plasma Cutter to myself than force myself through a campaign of lacking scares and repetitive Action Adventure game play.
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Review: Dead Space 3 Demo
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