Dead Space 3 Review
Extra Features: Online Co-op (2 players), Download Content
Dead Space 3 is the third game in the main action horror series of Dead Space titles developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts. Dead Space 3 is the first game in the series to bring in cooperative play during the main campaign. It changes the weapon management up to where the player can now build Isaac's weapons from scratch or modify existing weapons. Dead Space 3 has just as satisfying of a story as the rest of the games in the series and actually goes more in-depth with the overall history behind "The Marker".
Much like the rest of the series, Dead Space 3 follows the story Isaac Clarke. Dead Space 3 picks up after the events that happened aboard the Sprawl spaceship in Dead Space 2. Both Isaac and Ellie return from Dead Space 2 along with a whole new cast of characters. John Carver is an EarthGov soldier that can team up with Isaac during the events of Dead Space 3, but he is mainly a co-op exclusive character. While playing in single player as Isaac, a player will only see Carver every now and then during a cutscene. Carver basically plays little of a part in the single player campaign.
Once cooperative play is started, both players will have added dialogue since Carver will always be fighting along with Isaac for the majority of the game. Cutscenes that once only had Isaac in them, in the single player campaign, will have added scenes with Carver. Dead Space 3 is nearly like having two separate campaigns since the story, some of the gameplay and some of the puzzles are switched up during co-op play. Players must work together to solve some puzzles during co-op play, and they must both protect each other. Any player that dies can be revived by the partner in co-op play. The co-op is completely "drop-in, drop-out" online play where either player can leave the game at any time and the player that stays will get to continue on with the story in single player. There is no split screen play and there are no in-game voice commands during co-op play, so if you don't have a mic, you are very limited in communicating with a partner.
Dead Space 3 still has the same horror atmosphere that I have come to know from previous Dead Space games. The addition of co-op play has not changed the game whatsoever. It still has the same focus on horror and action much like Dead Space 2. Dead Space 3 is oozing with high production value from the beginning of the game. The action sequences are in your face and a good bit of the action is heavy all the time. Dead Space 3 constantly tries to "wow" you and it definitely succeeds.
The majority of the game still has the same controls from the last two Dead Space games. Isaac and Carver control the same as Isaac in previous games in the series. There is a new rolling dodge for evasive dodging and a cover system that a player can take advantage of. The rolling can help out slightly for dodging enemy attacks, but I never really used it much. The cover system is very limited - Isaac can only take cover behind low objects. The only time to take cover is mainly when fighting human enemies.
Isaac fights a few human enemies in the campaign of Dead Space 3 but the majority of the game is about fighting the necromorph human mutations. The enemies are composed of necromorph models from Dead Space and Dead Space 2 along with a few new types of necromorphs. Players will fight the familiar Slasher, Lurker, Pregnant enemies along with a few new enemies such as an infected soldier and other types of necromorphs that start to appear later in the game. The game offers a few boss fights and "bigger enemy" fights as well. The bosses are similar to Dead Space 1 where the boss fights are rare, but they are noticeably "boss fights" where a weakness must be found against a huge enemy that takes a lot more hits to kill than a standard enemy. The game can certainly get quite hard with the massive waves of enemies that can appear later in the chapters. The game has Casual, Normal, Hard, Impossible and Hardcore difficulties.
Benches are much different in Dead Space 3. In previous Dead Spaces, they could be used to upgrade weapons with power nodes, but in Dead Space 3, Isaac can construct his own weapons. There is no currency and there are no power nodes in Dead Space 3. Everything is made from scratch - including items. A player must collect materials then go to a bench to make Isaac some health packs, ammo or whatever else he might need. The weapon system is highly addicting in Dead Space 3. A player can choose between different frame types such as a light one-hand frame or a heavy two-hand frame when constructing weapons. Other frame types are available later as well.
Two weapons can actually be combined at a Bench now. I had a flamethrower on the top and a Ripper on the bottom of that flamethrower for a single weapon for the majority of the game. Basically, I had a great close range weapon that would keep enemies away with a Ripper blade and then fry them with a torch if they dared to make it past that spinning saw blade. You can make a submachine gun with a grenade launcher attached to the bottom of it or a shotgun with a line cutter attached to the bottom of it. There are many possibilities here and the overall fun you can have with this new upgrade system is quite nice. There are few unique weapon types that are different from other Dead Space games that a player can add onto weapons in Dead Space 3.
You can also add extra upgrades to your custom weapons via upgrade slots that can be opened on each weapon. These upgrades can give your weapon extra damage, faster reload times, a quicker rate of fire among other properties. These upgrades can be found in the environment or they can be constructed with parts as well. Any weapon that you build can be deconstructed and used for parts in order to build different weapons - the upgrades will go back into your main inventory also. Isaac and Carver can use a scavenger bot later in the game to send out in order for it to retrieve extra parts that they can use. The bot is time-based and will return to a bench after a certain amount of time with extra parts for building.
The campaign is 19 chapters long and this lasted me for a little over 12 hours - I do take my time through games, so that's about 10 hours for the average player. The game has 10 side missions that can be completed throughout the chapters of its campaign. I don't know if there are more, but one of those missions is a co-op exclusive mission - you can't perform the mission without a partner. Extra missions provide more background story and rewards are often some extra parts that players can use to build better weapons. Like other Dead Space games, Dead Space 3 has several text files and audio files. It also has artifacts that can be found in some chapters (basically hidden files). And of course, a Dead Space wouldn't be complete without the Peng treasure - there is always Peng!
Aside from the usual shooter gameplay, Dead Space 3 mixes up the action like Dead Space 2 did. There are a few vacuum areas, zero-gravity areas, mountain climbing areas, mountain descending areas and some areas where Isaac can quickly fly through the air (later in the game). All of these varieties of gameplay are very welcome when they are finally reached and none of them are overdone. The game has a few puzzles, and they are just as easy as they were in past games. The hacking puzzle from Dead Space 2 returns and there are other unique puzzles that have been added as well.
The music is atmospheric and often matches the action or moment that is taking place. Voices are well done as expected. The voice actors for characters that were in the previous games return to their roles in Dead Space 3. The main villain is voiced by Simon Templeman, who voiced Kain in the Legacy of Kain series - very good voice actor for a villain!
Dead Space 3 is a definite buy if you're a fan of the Dead Space series and even if you're not. If you are like me and had doubts about the game based on the demo that was released a few weeks prior to its release then just know that the full game is much better than the demo. The demo is actually not even a full part of the game - the areas are all reconstructed and placed in a different order in the full game. All of the horror atmosphere that was in the past games is all still in Dead Space 3 and the game is still very much a single player campaign, or you can play it in its optional co-op campaign to see the story with some additional insight on John Carver's character. Dead Space 3 is one action horror game that knows how to include co-op and not limit the single player experience!
+ Very high production value overall
+ Co-op adds additional dialogue and slight cutscene changes to the story
+ New weapons building/upgrade system is quite pleasing and addicting
- Cover and dodge controls feel tacked on
- No in-game commands during co-op play
Final Rating: 93%. The phrase "Turn if off" is used often in Dead Space 3, but your console is likely to remain "on" for quite a while with this action horror inside of it!