Dead Space 3 starts off with Isaac Clarke living on the New Horizons Lunar colony hiding from Unitologists and EarthGov. Three years after the Titan Station incident, Isaac is in hiding, trying to hold onto what sanity he has left. His girlfriend Ellie is on a secret mission and requests Captain Robert Norton and Sgt. John Carver (your co-op partner) to retrieve Isaac Clarke because she believes he is the only one who can help them. While attempting to leave Lunar Colony however, the three run into Jacob Danik, the leader of the Unitology contingent sent to kill Isaac. They quickly make their escape aboard the Eudora and head out to Tau Volantis, Ellie’s last known position.
Resources and Components
The biggest additions to Dead Space 3 are the weapon creation system and resource gathering. You’ll need resources to do any upgrades to your suit or create new weapons and components. Resources can be found in the environment, scavenged off dead enemies, or through the use of scavenger bots, which is how you will gather the bulk of your resources. You can drop these bots anywhere in the environment. They can also gather larger amounts of resources when set down in certain areas which can be found by following the scavenger bots’ radar or by listening for the bots to emit a low ping.
Once a scavenger bot has completed its task, they immediately go to the nearest weapons bench. This is where you’ll craft everything you need including ammo, health packs, stasis modules, and torque bars to open certain rooms and access to your vault. A good example of the weapon creation system’s capabilities is when I decided to modify Isaac’s handy plasma cutter and mounted a submachine gun under it. With this modification, I could fire my plasma cutter and machine gun at the same time without switching weapons.
You only get two weapon slots this time around, but with the right modifications you can carry what amounts to four weapons in two slots. Building weapons is relatively easy; you start with a light one hand frame or heavy two hand frame. The heavy two hand frames are for placing two distinct weapons together (an Assault Rifle with Grenade Launcher attachment, for example). Each weapon can be upgraded further by placing circuits that have the upgrades built into them (i.e. +1 Damage, +1 Clip, +1 Reload, +1 Rate of Fire or combinations of two) onto one of four slots per upper and lower weapon. Powering up Isaac’s RIG also takes resources and can prompt you to conserve what resources you do have and prioritize spending. As long as you’re using your bots to gather resources, it won’t be a problem to fully upgrade your suit before the game ends. The game gives you two types of RIGs to wear: the Zero G space suit, and an Arctic Survival suit, which keeps you from freezing to death on the planet surface. I acquired my N7 suit by having a Mass Effect save file.
Mechanics, Game Modes & Co-op
Firing a dual mounted weapon is simple; hold Left Trigger/L1 to aim, then firing either your primary or secondary weapon is done by pressing any of the right shoulder or trigger buttons on the controller, depending on your platform. New to the game is a crouch feature that Isaac can use to take cover while the Unitologists are shooting at him. While I’ll admit that the Unitologists’ aim isn’t the greatest, they will kill you if you’re not paying attention to Isaac’s health. Crouching is a bit awkward at first but you’ll need to get the hang of it fairly quickly or you’ll die.
Fortunately there is no sticky cover so Isaac won’t get stuck hiding behind chest high walls when the Necromorphs run in. There are a few areas in the game that you fight Unitologosts and Necromorphs at the same time so running and gunning is key. To make Isaac crouch, just click down on the Right Stick. This feature was normally reserved for the waypoint system, but now you’ll have to hold down the Right Stick for that. Another new addition to Dead Space 3 is a dodge feature, which can be activated by pressing the Run button twice. This is good for quickly getting out of the way of enemy attacks.
The game unlocks additional gameplay modes after your first playthrough: New Game+ allows you to replay the game with all acquired gear, Classic mode forces you to play the game with weapons from Dead Space 1, Pure Survival mode offers zero enemy loot drops and forces you to use the scavenger bots to gather the resources you need. Hardcore mode is a different story altogether; you can continue from saves only and, if Isaac dies, it’s game over. I tried the drop-in/drop-out co-op feature in Dead Space 3 and it’s better than the multiplayer feature Dead Space 2 had. You can jump in on some unsuspecting player with quick match or simply just playing with friends via Invite a Friend. Either way, it was just someone else along for the ride. If you get someone who jumps into your game and keeps dying or grabbing all your health and ammo then you can easily boot them from your game. The only special feature co-op has are the sections in the game that are specially designed for it. There are certain doors that can only be accessed with a co-op partner which brings several new but brief moments in the story. Anyone interested in getting Dead Space 3 should definitely try co-op.
While the idea of scary creatures popping out of air vents were frightening in the first game, the same gimmick just doesn’t hold up after two iterations. Isaac himself even advises his companions to “stay away from the air vents,” almost mirroring the player’s prior knowledge of how and when Necromorphs spawn. When you walk into a room and all you see air vents everywhere, you already know something will be popping out of them eventually. Because of this, there’s no surprise or suspense anymore and it ruins the suspense given that these encounters have turned formulaic. This probably explains why the focus has shifted from horror to action horror, as exemplified in both Dead Space 2 and 3.
A Space Worth Exploring
Whether Dead Space 3 has changed for the better or for the worse depends on what you find important to the series. I personally liked the weapon creation, resource gathering, and overall look and feel of the game. There are plenty of enemies to shoot with all the different weapon mods you can create and you’ll have no shortage of ammo or health packs. The puzzles in the game fit in well, but you’re guaranteed to be attacked once you solve them. Co-op is fun as long as you’re playing with someone you know. Isaac has more dialogue this time around which may have some players upset but I find it more enjoyable when the main character can narrate what’s going on around them. The Unitologists finally arrive for a refreshing change of pace but it’s hardly a noticeable change. The main antagonist Danik is somewhat of a different story. I didn’t like his dialogue or his fanatical motivations and his onscreen moments were less than satisfying. Overall Dead Space 3 is fun to play and a worthy successor in the Dead Space franchise.
Chris finished Dead Space 3 on Hard difficulty at 25 hours, 25 minutes on the PlayStation 3. He then jumped on a co-op game to get a feel for it and observe possible alterations to events or the storyline. EA did not provide us a copy for review.
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 3