Third time lucky?
The third installment of the Dead Space trilogy is upon us. We have journeyed along with Isaac Clarke and seen his horrors, both real and perceived, and how his fragile state of mind has been the cause of much of his anguish. With Dead Space 3, Isaac still shows signs of mental scarring, but at least he now has someone to share in his misery with Sergeant John Carver joining the series.
Dead Space 3 begins with a recap of the story to date and a brief prologue describing an event that happened 200 years prior on the ice planet of Tau Volantis. Fast forward again to find Isaac ‘recruited’ by Captain Norton and Sergeant Carver and on his way to this cold planet to find Ellie Langford and investigate the mysterious Markers, the objects that are seemingly behind the Necromorph infestations and Isaac’s hallucinations.
The story flows rather nicely, though most of the questions with regards to the Unitologists and the meaning and purpose of the Markers take until the second half of the game to unfold. The gameplay for the main story arc is somewhat linear. For the most part you travel down narrow passageways which basically guide you from one location to the next. In between the travelling, there will be Necromorphs to dispose of, ammunition and parts to collect and weapons to be crafted. And although the chapters are somewhat repetitive, the tense nature of the game keeps you on your toes.
One addition to the story arc the inclusion of Sergeant John Carver into the fray. Co-op players can assume the role of Carver and assist Isaac during his journey. The core story remains the same albeit with tougher opponents and puzzles that require the two players to co-operate in solving. There are sections that require one gamer to complete a set task while the other player ensures that he comes to no harm. The drop-in function works quite well and certainly adds a heap of replay value to the game, especially considering the heap of side quests that become available when Carver is added into the mix. The side missions add a further five or so hours of gameplay, and it is definitely enjoyable to take on the Necromorphs inside the bodysuit of someone other than Isaac.
Many of Isaac’s (least) favourite foes have returned in Dead Space 3. And, as was the case in the previous game in the series, each of the Necromorphs are quite different in shape, size and attack pattern. Both old and new enemies require different tactics to neutralize. Some can be thwarted with some well-placed shots to their legs, but even then they’ll crawl their way towards you until you finish them off. One variant has fireballs attached to their bodies and will charge at you. Failing to shoot these guys before they get too close will result in a painful explosion, which means shooting them whilst they are amongst other Necromorphs can be highly advantageous.
Another Necromorph type has tentacles that fire stakes at you and dismembering their tentacles should be your main priority. With the variations in Necromorphs, it is no use just shooting blindly at them. It pays to quickly assess which foe is attacking before aiming at the appropriate area on its body. Oh…and never shoot the fat guy in the stomach. Yes, it’s a big target, but trust me, don’t do it.
Controls will be familiar to Dead Space gamers. Music and sound effects set the tone perfectly.
Less horror than in previous instalments. Linear gameplay for the main story.