Dead Space 3 Review

Dead Space 3 screenshot
Dead Space 3 screenshot

I’m nothing if not positive. When EA showcased Dead Space 3’s action-focused new direction at last year’s E3, I steered clear of the dissenting voices and naysayers. Visceral knows what it’s doing, I thought. When coop was revealed, I chose to think about the ways in which another player could add to the horror rather than detract from it. I didn’t even get angry about microtransactions and 11 pieces of launch DLC. The proof would be in the pudding - the gristly, deformed, pus-spewing pudding.

Turns out, Dead Space 3 is pretty much the exact game everyone else said it would be. It is, quite frankly, a bit of a mess; a misguided, dull slog that’s so devoid of innovation and inspiration that it seems mad that it actually comes from the same people as its stellar predecessors.

When EA launched Dead Space, it felt like something new. Yes, the component parts had been seen before in both cinema and gaming, but it brought ideas to a stale genre and did so with rare style. The sound design, the limb-rending, the zero-gravity, the isolation. The game was far from perfect, but it was fresh and bold. Dead Space 2 then took those ideas, threw in some new ones, and polished the thing into a shiny Triple-A franchise; another string to EA’s ever-growing big-budget bow.

Dead Space 3, though, is none of that. In a 14-or-so hour campaign - playable on your own or with a coop partner (more on that later) - there are no new ideas, no innovations, no flair. The game has transformed from mid-paced horror into an action shooter with an eye for the grotesque, but has done so without relaying the foundations necessary to facilitate that sort of mutation. You can’t just make a Gears of War game because you fancy it - you have to build every polygonal cell to support it.

The first worry is the introduction of human enemies - soldiers of the mad Unitology leader Danik. They appear early, suggesting that Dead Space 3 is going to completely eschew its roots, but in actual fact their appearances are sparing and actually strangely welcome. Turns out it’s more fun to fight a group of reasonably smart humans than an endless, relentless tide of necromorphs.

Every combat encounter - and there are many - is almost always twice as long as it should be. Any time Isaac accomplishes anything, whether it’s solving a puzzle or just finding a new area, he’s assaulted by a small army of waggly-armed idiots that need to be sliced up in classic Dead Space style. Being overrun by Necros has always been the least appealing part of the series, but now it’s a fundamental part of the game - by the end of the campaign I must have slaughtered over 1000 of them, and did so with no real skill or tactical consideration, just aggression, hope and just enough Stasis to slow a few of them down. It’s a slog.

Dead Space 3 screenshot

Considering the new focus on combat, it’s maddening that Isaac is now limited to carrying two weapons at once, and that the old upgrade system has been replaced by a confusing and somewhat cynical crafting mechanic. It breaks the flow of the action and seems completely at odds with the immersion the (admittedly excellent) visuals and sound attempt to establish. Every five minutes, you’re stuck at a work bench trying to cram a new attachment onto your gun, wrapping your head around 5 different pieces of in-game currency and praying that what you end up with is actually capable of doing some damage.

It reminds me of a meal I had the other week. I went to a restaurant that served steak on hot stones, so you can cook it yourself. It sounded great; novel, exciting, just pretentious enough to make me feel a little bit cool. Five minutes in, though, and I’m sitting there with a slab of uncooked meat and some heat, essentially. I’ve paid a premium to do the chef’s job for him, and the steak ended up being average at best.

The idea of crafting your own weapons in Dead Space 3 might sound great. It certainly nods to the Minecraft crowd, and Isaac’s engineering background justifies it narratively. But in practice, you’re just doing the designers’ jobs for them. Nothing I built was ever as good as a powered-up plasma cutter, and more than once I built something that actually made the game much harder.

Later in the campaign you actually do get hold of a bespoke weapon, and that goes on to inform the design in the rest of that chapter. It’s one of the best bits of the game. There’s a lot to be said for having your choices restricted by artists and creatives who might just know better. Especially when the ubiquitous bench also carries a giant list of greyed-out weapon blueprints that can only feasibly be made on a first play-through if you’re prepared to lay down some extra dollar. It’s a pretty ugly affair.

Thankfully, the second controversial inclusion is probably Dead Space 3’s saving grace. In the absence of horror - and the game just isn’t scary, seemingly deliberately so - having a partner along for the ride does enhance the action. Certain sections are clearly designed for buddying-up, and your cohort Carver is a decent sidekick. He hates you, for one, which is novel enough, and he has his own personal tale to separate him from Clarke.

He’s much more than just a second Isaac or a bland avatar. Yes, he might look like a reject from the SS Normandy, but he has his own motives and backstory, and more interestingly actually suffers from visions that make his own journey through the campaign different to Isaac’s. It’s gimmicky stuff, yes, but still an interesting use of cooperative dynamics that does offer something more than just a friend to kill things with.

Dead Space 3 screenshot

The campaign does branch for each coop partner, too, and there are coop specific side missions which are about as exciting as the single-player equivalents (read: not). Dead Space 3 is definitely a better game when played together.

A shame, then, that it’s still not a very good game. When you’re not drowning in dead bodies, you’re carrying out bland menial tasks. Dead Space has always been a game about Isaac doing chores for other people, but this is ridiculous. Just getting to the snowy planet of Tau Volantis takes an age and requires a seemingly never ending succession of fetch quests, and even basic traversal is constantly halted by having to grab something to open a door or just wait while the damn things open. One chapter has five elevator rides in it. Five. The pacing is baffling at times - every time it threatens to keep things moving it yanks you back into some dull busywork.

The snowy planet doesn’t do much for the horror, either. Having the action step out of the darkness is no bad thing, but it doesn’t take much of a critical eye to see the frozen tundra and permanent snowstorms as just sexier versions of PSOne fogging - the actual levels themselves are cramped and linear. And while some sections and set pieces do shine - one open chunk in deep space is marvelous to look at, while a few Uncharted-style scripted sequences are genuinely impressive - there’s so much plodding and killing that it’s hard to enjoy them.

Dead Space 3 isn’t a let down because Visceral decided to turn it into an action game. No one can tell them what Dead Space ‘is’ - they decide to make whatever game they want. And there is enough lore and scope to make Dead Space an action game, even if that choice is probably a poor one. Dead Space 3 is a let down because it’s not a very good action game, and a really substandard horror game. It is devoid of ideas, hung up on laborious combat and obsessed with making even the exciting seem boring. In truth, it’s a bit of a shocker.

Version Tested: Xbox 360

Time Played: 14 Hours

5 / 10

  • Nice looking
  • Good co-op ideas
  • Amazingly boring and laborious
  • Neither horror or action
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Highest Rated Comment

MJTH's Avatar

MJTH

Not only do you insult me, you completely ignored the majority of my argument. Instead of making a decent rebuttal to my comment as a whole and, you choose criticize the most trivial of points.

I apologise for using the "you have to do it yourself to criticize it argument" as it wasn't a good way to end my comment. But your reply would of actually had more meaning if you had actually tried, to make an actual come back to towards the majority of my argument.

The part that makes up two thirds of my post about how a lot of the games that aren't reviewed by the media would decrease the average review score from a 7 to 5 if the media bothered to review. And the reason why the media doesn't review these games is because we are now in a position where they don't have to because we have other ways to find out these games they didn't review are bad.

Could you at least give me the dignity of making a come to that, by reading my original post, and actually acknowledging it in a reply with an answer that sounds like you have thought about it with respect, instead brushing it to one side before insulting me again...

So now let's try this again, but this time with FEELING!! :thumbup:
Posted 21:49 on 05 February 2013

User Comments

FThis1992's Avatar

FThis1992

Another example of an idiot critic calling a game bad by comparing it to other existing titles and not understanding what's in front of his face. Jon Denton, consider a career change cause you sir are one sh*tty critic.
Posted 20:13 on 07 September 2013
tavverin's Avatar

tavverin

i have to agree with knifeknifeinthedark . Mr Denton you're an idiot. thwarting weapons customization is among the best I've ever seen. Being too idiotic to understand it IS your problem. and the 5 resource types.... really that's too much for you? maybe you shouldn't be a game if you can't grasp the resources. they are even clearly categorized for you. Honestly I have platinum trophies is both ds1 and ds2, and it is my personal opinion that this one has the moat fun gameplay. granted, very little can compare to the thrill i had when my friend handed me ds1 for the first time and i popped it in knowing nothing about what about. ds3 is a clear cut 9.5 to me. Don't listen to this idiot.
Posted 03:31 on 02 May 2013
DormantDeity's Avatar

DormantDeity

R u a fricking Idiot? Even after playing all three the only ones I enjoyed were number 1 and 3 two felt to much the same as 1 just with some new added features such as talking for the main character, somewhat a minegame when trying to unlock certain doors, new creatures, and a somewhat better story that basically had the same objective of destroying a *****ing marker just like 1! Dead space 3 on the other hand went completly innovative on isaacs ability to construct a whole weapon from scratch himself, the gameplay was given a new chance to be different abit with the ducking and rolling, theres a complete new environment, sadly a sucky selection of enemies though its basically the same with only like two new enemies that dont really bring anything to the party, and has the absence of isolation and most horror elements. But the story is finally getting intriguing while it was in the first and a little in the second its actually getting somewhere to its origins. And its much more innovative with the little minigames, and kinesis. And the weapon crafting system isnt hard at all and l it's in my opinion more intertaining then adding a few nodes as in the first and second and thats it. I do believe you are overpowered in 3 though and that sucks. I feel so much better now....
Posted 20:59 on 26 February 2013
clangod's Avatar

clangod

Felt nothing for the demo apart from the familiarity with the first 2 games. I considered it functional and mildly entertaining.

After playing roughly 2 hours of the game proper I am enjoying Dead Space all over again. It'll be a solo game for me so I'm not too worried about co-op play although I think it would be fun.

I must admit I am a sucker for a well dressed environment. What Dead Space does get right every time is the levels. The detail and the beauty of these outer space areas. Like when just about to board the Roanoake for the first time. I sat out there for a while in zero G admiring the sight.

The dark corridors return which carry a somewhat diluted sense of foreboding. Necromorphs do seem instantly more aggressive though, so maybe the fear will return.

Turn the music off and enjoy the ride I guess.

Totally worth the price of admission.
Posted 01:22 on 18 February 2013
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ altaranga

Explains the no attention from the parents.
Posted 14:59 on 16 February 2013
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Mintyrebel

I don't understand why ODESSA_Z says Gears 2 is broken when he completed IT 100% and then bought all it's DLC and did that AT 100%.

If it's broken then how did he get the achievements and if he meant broken, as in rubbish...then why did he buy all the DLC as well for it lol.


Just LOL
Posted 14:29 on 16 February 2013
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ KnifeinTheDark

Hurray ODESSA, you brought your friend along :)
Posted 10:23 on 16 February 2013
KnifeinTheDark's Avatar

KnifeinTheDark

Time to put your dunce caps on children! Mr. Denton is about to get torn a new one!

First of all, Mr. Denton, you say there is "no new innovation" and that "Isaac is now limited to two weapon slots." I must begin with saying, this is ignorant, blind, and downright trollish.

Innovation: something new or different introduced

First of all "no new innovation" would imply the drop-in/drop-out co-op does not exist, and the new, vastly intricate way of creating and upgrading weapons does not exist. Of course we can clearly see, all of these things indeed exist.

I apologize if the complexity of the weapon upgrading system flies over your head Mr. Denton, but don't blame Dead Space for your lack of understanding. As for the weapon slots? You are allowed to have four weapons, two on each frame you create, so your argument is laughable, as there are four, 4, cuatro, guns total in 2 slots (potentially of course, unless the weapon upgrading system is too complicated, Mr. Denton). Doing the devs job for them? As far as I can see, the idea in and of itself of the new weapon system and all of the options relating to this system were all a complex web constructed by the devs. It was excellent, and fun.

In addition to the dual weapon option, there are well over one hundred unique weapons as the game progresses, considering all the different ways you can upgrade and mix and match barrels and under-barrels.

I am also disgusted by your apparant lack of skill and how you conveniently blame the devs for this. You sound like the kids I know that said Ninja Gaiden 2 was too hard and there were too many enemies. You sound like some of the kids I play in Starcraft that complain all I do is make a huge army and win, but really any well-made game comes down to this: First is mechanics; your speed, accuracy, and coordiantion. Second comes strategy and things like stasis. Stop relying on things as a crutch to help you through a game you wish was easier.

Being swarmed wasn't appealing? Anyone else remembering the epic fights with that regenerating necro from DS 1 and the marker fights? My heart was pumping, adrenaline rushing through me, and I was in fear. Being swarmed by many weaker enemies has been a fear-inducing calling card of Dead Space since the beginning. The overwhelming numbers combined with the mindless, but primally aggressive enemies is a great recipe for fear.

You also make criticism over the co-op taking out the fear. Let me let you in on a little secret; there have been MANY players on the visceral and EA forums that have reccomended and thought co-op would be a great addition, they wanted to play with their friends. I share this sentiment, as I have friends, that I play games with. Co-op is YOUR option, you can play alone if you choose.

Yet when you speak about the horror in this game, you say it isn't horror at all but "a shooter with an eye for the grotesque" (as I recall from reading). This is a narrow view. I played DS 1 and 2. I have every achievement in DS 1, nearly all of them in DS 2. Ironically enough, a fellow DS1 fan (scariest game of all time, no doubt) disagrees. The horror was indeed present, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Comparing any horror to the precedent DS1 set is stupid, that is like comparing every boxer from Ali to the end of time to Ali, how could you hope to measure up? It is unfair.

Judge something in its own right, don't compare it to a legend when palying it, even in your head don't do it, that's how horrible, biased reviews like this one are made.
Posted 03:34 on 16 February 2013
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ rbevanx

Meh. I've not played the game, I'm simply commenting on his clear fanboyism and disrespect to the reviewer.
Posted 21:52 on 15 February 2013
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Mintyrebel

Good one mind if he is a troll, he's got a reaction :P
Posted 21:50 on 15 February 2013
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ rbevanx

Where on Earth did he get a score of 93 from? VG gave it a 10 and don't deal in .3's.... trollers gunna troll....
Posted 21:50 on 15 February 2013
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga

"I'll side with ICE-T".

LOL. It just reminded me so much of this...

YouTube Video
Posted 21:46 on 15 February 2013
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ altaranga

Quote:
Visceral Games supporter.

Yeah not half lol.

I disagree with the review aswell and don't think it deserves a 5, in fact I think it's better than Dead Space 2 and I'm really enjoying it.

But to me he lost the argument soon as he said Gears of War 2 online was "THE MOST BROKEN online of any game in the last 5 years", never mind the childish insults. Pretty much every game have looked to Gears for online inspiration.

Gears 3 online is rubbish though I felt.
Posted 21:46 on 15 February 2013
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ ODESSA_Z

You sir are what we call an idiot. Now if you would please return to your troll cave we can continue with any sane and intelligible conversation we were having.
Posted 21:41 on 15 February 2013
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ rbevanx

Ruh Roh. Fanboy alert...

https://twitter.com/ODESSA_Z
Posted 21:34 on 15 February 2013

Game Stats

Dead Space 3
5
Out of 10
Dead Space 3
  • Nice looking
  • Good co-op ideas
  • Amazingly boring and laborious
  • Neither horror or action
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 08/02/2013
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Publisher: EA
Genre: Survival Horror
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 203
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