Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
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Sunday, February 24, 2013REVIEW OF...DEAD SPACE 3 (Yes, I do games now too)
This has been crying out for a review all week, but I've been stuck in Liberty City.
Okay, Dead Space 3. If you don't know this already, the first Dead Space is one of my all time favourite games. It has it all: atmosphere, story and action. Dead Space 2 expands on the ideas of the original, but taking place in larger locations, loses some of that all important feeling of desolation, no matter how many creepy, blood splattered nurseries you chuck in there.
So how does the third installment size up?
Number 3 once again puts us in the rig of Isaac Clarke. While the game offers a previously on Dead Space video to get players up to speed, the marker story line is getting somewhat convoluted by now, and I found it best to go into this one fresh.
Turns out after surviving the events in the last game, Isaac and fellow survivor Ellie had a short lasting relationship which Isaac still dwells on. Enter Captain and complete dick clown Norton and his lacky Carver, who convince Isaac to accompany them to rescue Ellie, who resumed her mission to destroy the markers. Before her ship went dark, she requested Isaac and his expertise...
Oh, and there's another anus monkey called Danik who is a Unitologist, because religious fruitcakes always make the best villains.
The game can be considered as four parts. The introduction is very action heavy and loaded with set pieces as Isaac, Norton and Carver attempt to leave a panicked metropolis with Danik's forces hunting them down. I was initially worried that things had gone too far down a Gears path with cover based shooting. At least there are enemies that shoot back bullets this time.
Enter space and we settle down into core Dead Space gameplay. Long, empty corridors. Skittering sounds from the vents. Following that blue glowing line down elevators through the dark, deeper into the bowels of a ship haunted by quick, vicious killers.
The usual necromorph specimens are here with a few new ones thrown in for good measure in the latter half of the game. Yet I felt the gooey beasties could take more of a licking and had a tendency to come at you in groups of four or five at a time, even creeping up behind you more often. They're also noticeably faster, so keep your stasis topped up!
We also see a fair bit of this:
Now while at this point things are all well and good in Dead Space Land, and I'm remembering how much I adore this series, things were feeling a tad stagnant. I've been in cities, on ships and floating through space before. Is this just a rehash?
DS3 brings a new environment to the table in form of Tau Volantis, the Hoth-esque ice planet on which the crew find themselves. Cue low visability, challenges regarding staying warm and as for those pesky necromorphs...they can jump out of the snow. Anywhere. At any time! Within a few minutes of landing, you'll soon to learn to keep on your toes.
Volantis has a strong Carpenter's The Thing vibe, which can never be a bad thing.
The final parts of the game again offer another completely new environment to the series, and a special kind of necromorph that will have you sweating when you see it dashing towards you, and shitting when you see two of them dashing towards you.
Another major new feature is regarding the benches. Rather than simply swapping weapons or upgrading them via circuits, players can now build weaponry from scratch, mix and match their preferred types, fine tune them with special features and then add new circuits to cater weaponry just the way you want it. My set up involved an epic missile and grenade launcher with extra damage upgrades to take out crowds or larger necromorphs in one slot, and a wide angled plasma cutter (classic) with an electric ripper for the weak and fast 'feeders' (or skinnymen, as I call them) in the other.
Scavenger bots are also a new inclusion and aid in gathering resources for building or upgrading weapons/rig. Big love for the little guys.
Negatives? The storyline is a bit jaded at times, with things never going Isaac's way, yet he always gets through it in the end.
"I'll get us a ship outta here. Gimme five minutes."
"Okay, I found us a ship. But it needs an engine. The engine is two floors down and guarded by a huge blob thing that shoots off little blob...things. Gimme five minutes."
(gasping) "Okay I got the engine, but my screw driver won't fit. It needs a flat one and I have a bloody Phillips head! Typical. I need to go down to the workshop to find one."
"Isaac here again. Someone put gum in the lock to the workshop and I can't get in. In addition, I left my lunch back on Uxor and I think I'm getting a touch of the flu. Gimme five minutes."
At times it's like Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em in space...
Will there be a DS4? I hope so, as long as the devs give us taste of something new once more. Desert world Necromorphs for example would be interesting.
DS1 is still my favourite, but DS3 is a highly polished, top class action horror game. Highly recommended.